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Marco Rose Above his Fears and Found the Courage to Pursue his Dreams

Updated: May 14, 2019

Marco has been faced with obstacles in his life, but that hasn’t stopped him from being incredibly kind, having a positive outlook and continuing to go after his dreams. As a child, Marco loved to play basketball. It helped him to escape the pressures of school which were challenging for him due to a learning disability that has hindered him from learning to read, write and, sometimes, communicate the way that he would like to.

Marco became a Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) client in 2016 in hopes of going to school to further his education and receive support to find employment in addition to his part-time job with Chili’s Grill & Bar. TMI’s Tailored Day Services program heard Marco’s hopes and dreams and set out to assist him with not only going back to school, but finding a job in line with his dreams. TMI Facilitator Lorinda Elder assisted Marco with starting school at Southwestern Community College, which led to a volunteer position assisting their women’s basketball team, the Jaguars. Marco helps the team with game set up, uniforms, equipment and travels with them to help out however he can.

What started out as a volunteer position, turned into a paid position due to Marco’s perseverance and hard work. In order to qualify to be paid to assist the team, Marco has to take six units of college coursework at Southwestern with passing grades. With Lorinda’s assistance, Marco has been passing his courses and is currently taking computers, vocabulary and weight training. Lorinda helps him with note taking, quizzing him and reviewing coursework, as well as encourages him to do projects outside of his comfort zone such as PowerPoint presentations.

“I think Marco is one of the kindest people I have ever had the opportunity to work with,” Lorinda said. “He is the first to offer help when someone is in need and is very hard worker. When I first started assisting him with school last year he didn’t want to participate in class because his speech can be difficult to understand. Now, after several semesters, I’ve seen him progress. He might be reluctant at first, but he found the courage to do PowerPoint presentations in front of three different classes. I am extremely proud of him.”

Marco lives with his step mom, two sisters and niece and nephew, who he enjoys spending time with. He loves to go to the movies, play Xbox games, volunteer for youth basketball, and go to the gym to play basketball and meet new people. He is always sure to help out at home before enjoying his free time. Each day Marco is becoming more confident and mature, while learning to be his own advocate.

“Marco was one of our first Tailored Day Services program clients to start in 2016,” TMI Division Manager Cathena Ferrero said. “He set his goal to obtain a paid position assisting a basketball team and with our help he made his dream come true.”

We asked Marco how it made him feel to be living out his dreams and he said “good, because I have been trying my best.” That is all any of us can do, Marco! Congratulations on your success!

Clients with TMI’s Tailored Day Services program are encouraged to self-direct and participate in determining their program day. We are here to help our clients plan their day their way. With the anticipation of maximizing life satisfaction, this exciting program tailors our client’s day based on their personal choices, hopes and dreams. The program allows clients to choose and customize day services to meet their individual needs at a 1:1 ratio with a Community Facilitator. Clients can choose to focus on post-secondary education, socialization, job development or volunteer opportunities. Services are available through the San Diego Regional Center (8 hours per week/maximum 37 hours a month) and private pay (no hour limit).


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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