Updated: May 14, 2019
Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Supported Employment (SE) Division Manager Brent Ramsey recently celebrated 25 years of service to TMI and our clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He heads up our North County SE Division and is driven by his passion to find our clients jobs. Ruby Fontanez recently logged 20 years with TMI and continues to find her work as a San Diego Integrated Work (IW) Job Coach rewarding. Anna Frichtel is an Associate Division Manager for our deaf and hard of hearing division, Evolution to Independence (ETI). For 15 years, her belief in the capabilities of our clients has driven her work. We love their answers!
Q. What interested you about working at TMI?
B: I responded to an ad in the newspaper! My sister encouraged me to apply. She was the reason that I got into this field and I am grateful for that.
R: That I would be working with people that have a disability out in the community.
A: I have always been interested in assisting those who are faced with challenges. My motto is that everyone is capable of accomplishing anything that they set out to do, provided they are given the right tools.
Q. What is your favorite part about working at TMI?
B: Getting people jobs!
R: The clients that I work with.
A: I enjoy being an asset to the deaf community, “bridging the gap.” Educating others, in both the hearing and non-hearing communities, about the perspectives of each.
Q. What challenges do you face, your clients face, and how have you helped them?
B: Overcoming barriers for employment. The people that I support face challenges daily, anyway I can help them, I will do my best by using persistence and patience.
R: Patience and understanding one another. With time I have learned to understand and communicate better with my clients.
A: Often the deaf individuals I support are asked by colleagues, “Can you tell them…?” Being an interpreter I realize the skill needed to allow both to communicate directly. I’m supposed to be seen by the deaf and heard by the hearing community.
Q. What are your hopes for the future of individuals with developmental disabilities?
B: To increase inclusion opportunities in every facet of their life.
R: Be successful and enjoy life.
A: My hope is that the phrase “developmentally disabled” or any classification that labels one as “less than” is no longer needed. We all have our own issues. From the way I was raised, it is “differently abled.” People can always make adjustments.
Q. How does making a difference in the lives of your clients make you feel?
B: Happy. Fulfilled.
R: It is fulfilling and gives me joy to help them.
A: As my grandmother put it, “Try to do something nice for someone every day.” That includes just smiling at someone who looks like they need it.
Q. How do you enjoy spending your free time?
B: I enjoy spending time with my son. He is in college now, so watching him develop and succeed is awesome.
R: Taking my dog on long walks and playing with her. Going to the mall with my granddaughter.
A: I enjoy camping, bowling, running, and spending time with my family. My one niece describes me as “Aunt Crazy,” because I come up with out of the box things to do.
Q. Who do you admire and why?
B: My father, I miss him so much. He was a Sales Manager and a politician. I am told that I am a lot like him. He had the fortitude and passion to do his job. I have those same traits that he has passed down to me. I am forever grateful for that.
R: There are three former TMI employees that I admire very much (sadly two have passed away and one retired). Bonnie - For being there when I needed her help. D.J. - For being an awesome mentor and patient with me. Louanne - For making the impossible possible and helping me out.
A: My two grandmothers. My dad’s mom acquired polio when she was young. Her feet were different sizes and she had to endure many struggles with that. My mom’s mom was a pound and a half at birth. Both lived long and positive lives, enduring many challenges. That’s who set me on this path.
Q. Words to live by?
B: Nike “Just do it!” As a job developer that is your goal, to make it happen, period!
R: Always try to do your best and never take life for granted.
A: “Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.” – Homemaking.com author Darlene Hill.
Q. Final thoughts?
B: I am ever so grateful to the agency for taking a chance on me when I was hired. I have seen the agency change a lot in 25 years. What I do know is that we continue to “walk the talk” and provide the best of services to the people in each program. My past mentors and co-workers mean a lot to me. I will be a TMI soldier for years to come. Thank you!
R: Working at TMI has been challenging and rewarding and fulfilling and meaningful.
A: Everyone can excel at anything they set out to given the right opportunity as TMI has given me.
Congratulations to Brent, Ruby and Anna! TMI is certainly very fortunate to have three such amazing, hardworking and dedicated employees. We wish you continued success and happiness in your careers with TMI. Thank you for taking the time to share with us!
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 and Family Support Services throughout San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties. To stay connected with us follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Together we can share acceptance and awareness, ultimately contributing to further inclusion.