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TMI Paid Internship Program at Smart & Final Pays Off for Our Client Jack

Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Jack doing what he loves

(Jack doing what he loves)

The Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Paid Internship Program (PIP) was launched in January 2018 and is off to a great start! TMI has already placed 14 clients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities with the program, which is growing daily. Funded by the Department of Developmental Services, TMI is the agency responsible for administering the program by directly interacting with employers and our clients to foster successful outcomes. One of our PIP clients who is excelling at paid employment is Jack.

Jack is passionate about many things, the least of which are the Padres and food! So when he came to TMI seeking employment with our Supported Employment program, Jack already knew that he wanted to work in the food industry while still having time to enjoy baseball games at Petco Park and cooking for his family.

Jack had completed all of the culinary courses offered at Grossmont College and then began working in the restaurant industry which didn’t feel like the right fit for him. He had his sights set on working at Smart & Final near his home where he could interact with the community he grew up in.

TMI’s Director of Supported Employment Marcus Byrd set out to make that dream come true for Jack. Marcus knew right away Jack would be a great candidate for TMI’s PIP program and felt confident that once Jack got his foot in the door it could lead to paid employment. After a stellar interview, Jack was offered an internship with Smart & Final which then led to paid employment after only a few short months.

Jack on cart duty

(Jack on cart duty)

“Jack always has a positive attitude about work and people in general,” said Marcus. “He has natural customer service skills.”

Jack loves working at Smart & Final! “It feels like I am doing the right thing,” said Jack. “It isn’t overwhelming, I am good at it and the people are very nice.”

Smart & Final Store Manager Gus Biner also feels like Jack’s position as a Courtesy Clerk is a great fit for him. “If you are looking at a perfect employee, Jack is it!” said Gus. “He is efficient, thorough, right on time, and we never have to ask him twice.”

In Jack’s free time, he enjoys exploring San Diego and spending time with his family. His mom, Robin, loves that Jack can work in the community where he grew up at a job that he loves.

Jack at home with his mom Robin

(Jack at home with his mom Robin)

“I am happy to see Jack productive, responsible and hard working,” said Robin. “As a business owner, I am impressed with his work ethic and how hard he works. He is learning skills he can use forever! We were very excited that he was offered paid employment following his internship.”

Robin loves Jack living at home with her and her husband, Daniel, which gives them the opportunity to visit in the evening while Jack uses his culinary skills to prepare meals for the family, including smoked meats, Italian food and tacos. Jack does hope to one day live on his own, but for now he is enjoying time with his family. He loves when his older sister, Emily, visits to spend time with the family.

Everyone at TMI is very proud of Jack’s success! “I am smarter, kinder and more successful because of TMI,” added Jack.

With those tools, we are sure Jack can do anything he sets his mind to and that he has a bright future ahead. Congratulations, Jack!


Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) has been transforming the lives of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1981 and those who are deaf and hard of hearing since 2000. Like all of us, our clients are born with hopes, dreams and the drive to contribute to society. TMI strives to help our clients to realize their hopes and dreams by providing Employment Solutions, Community Living Services and Family Support Services throughout San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties.

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