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Star Vons Courtesy Clerk Doesn't Let Autism Hold Her Back

Updated: May 14, 2019

Felisha at TMI's holiday party

As a Courtesy Clerk on the autism spectrum at the busiest VONS in Southern California, Felisha had to learn the ropes quickly, but she was up to the challenge and is thriving after 11 years on the job! She is a former Mission Bay High School Homecoming Queen and it is clear upon meeting her why she was chosen. Felisha is genuinely a kind and friendly person who instantly makes you feel at ease. Her smile is contagious, making her a natural fit to provide customer service for the many visitors entering the Pacific Beach, San Diego VONS store.

“Felisha is a team player who never complains and is always on it,” said VONS Supervisor Rebecca. “It is nice to have an employee like that.”

Felisha's TMI Job Coach Andrew Palasciano, Felisha and VONS Store Supervisor Rebecca

(Andy Palasciano, VONS Store Supervisor Rebecca and Felisha)

Felisha, who is a client with Toward Maximum Independence (TMI), knows the store inside and out. At first it was a challenge learning where everything was, but now even the most seasoned employees know that they can count on Felisha to locate items in the store. Recently, Felisha started cart duty which at first seemed like a daunting task to both her and her family. But as she did with her other duties such as bagging, go backs and customer service, Felisha excelled with the assistance of her TMI Job Coach Andrew (Andy) Palasciano.

Felisha and Andy at TMI's annual summer picnic

(Felisha and Andy at TMI's annual summer picnic)

“Felisha can now clear the carts without my help, which is awesome to see,” said Andy. “It is great to be her Job Coach. She is really happy and has a positive attitude, not to mention she keeps me up to date on the Gull’s games. She is their number one fan for sure! She attends games whenever she can and can tell you the names of all of the players and all about their upcoming events."

Felisha also enjoys riding her bike around Pacific Beach, taking Zumba classes, going to the Swap Meet and attending TMI events including our annual summer picnic and holiday party. Felisha lives with her mom and dad and loves to spend time with them celebrating birthdays, going bowling and just being together.

When we asked Felisha how TMI has helped her over the years, she said “they have helped me with everything.” She also expressed how proud, happy and independent working at VONS makes her feel. It is her home away from home and she loves it there! As for her hopes for the future, Felisha said that she hopes to continue working at VONS and that she simply “looks forward to each day.”

Thank you for being an inspiration to us, Felisha! Thank you also to VONS for partnering with us to make an impact in the lives of our clients!

Felisha is with TMI’s Supported Employment program which is designed to help develop the capabilities and strengths of all people desiring to work. It is the mission of the program to support, enhance and educate the general workforce population on the contributing value of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our mission drives our work to ensure that all people have the right to attain dignity and self-respect in the employment sector.


Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) has been transforming the lives of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1981 and the deaf and hard of hearing since 2000. 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. To stay connected with us, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Together we can share acceptance and awareness, ultimately contributing to further inclusion.

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