• tmiorg

Christina’s Passionate Spirit Shines On and Off the Stage

Updated: Jul 31, 2019


Christina with her mom, Marina, after the AWO production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Christina is a shining star wherever she goes! Whether she is giving her all working at VONS or happily on stage in an Arms Wide Open (AWO) production, she is dedicated, helpful and brings sunshine to every room. Toward Maximum Independence (TMI), a nonprofit serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), has provided services to Christina since 2009. She first began working at VONS with the assistance of her TMI Integrated Work Job Coach Doug Hoehn in 2012. She took to her customer service role very quickly and has been an asset to the store ever since!

“Christina is a joy to work with,” said Doug. “She is so personable, loves to laugh and to talk with others. She is truly an ambassador of goodwill. She has a good and caring spirit.”

Christina with her TMI Job Coach Doug Hoehn.

Christina is a helper by nature. When a hard of hearing customer visited VONS and became agitated that no one was able to communicate with her for assistance, Christina stepped in as the only person to know enough American Sign Language (ASL) to assist her and put the customer at ease. Christina has taken it upon herself to learn some ASL over the years to communicate with others. She loves languages!

“Being able to work at VONS makes me feel good and independent,” Christina said with a big smile!

Christina takes her job very seriously and is passionate about safety on the job, as well as the San Diego Food Bank donation program at VONS. When assisting with bagging at VONS, Christina enthusiastically encourages store visitors to purchase $5.00 Hunger Bags, which are donated to those in need. This cause is especially near and dear to Christina’s heart as she has been volunteering at the San Diego Food Bank with her TMI Integrated Work team in 2012. Christina, along with TMI’s client, Justin, recently completed a two year shredding project at the Food Bank, which was a huge accomplishment!


Christina happily filling the VONS Hunger Bags

Christina is perhaps most passionate about performing with AWO, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults with special needs by fostering caring social environments and creating opportunities for recreation and participation in the arts. She has performed in AWO productions of Aladdin, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and most recently Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.


Christina (center) in the AWO production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

“This is my seventh show with Arms Wide Open and I love it!” said Christina.


Christina (right) in the AWO production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Christina practices for each show for nine months prior to the performance. She also takes contemporary dance class with Nancy Rubio, the sister of AWO Director Chris Rubio. Christina raves about the Rubios and AWO, which has given her the opportunity to meet wonderful friends. You can often see Christina practicing what she has learned from AWO on the dance floor at TMI’s annual holiday party! She also enjoys participating on a bowling league.

Christina with Nancy and Chris Rubio.

Currently, Christina is living with her mom, Marina, and sister, but is saving money in hopes of living independently in the future. She is very close with her mom and it is wonderful to see the special bond that they share. You can clearly see where Christina’s caring heart comes from. Congratulations on all of your well-deserved success, Christina!

Christina was excited to receive her gift at the TMI Holiday Party.

The TMI IW program is designed to meet the employment and community integration needs of individuals with IDD who are over the age of 18 and are Regional Center clients. Our clients participate in making decisions about their day which reflects their unique skills, support needs and individual preferences.

Thank you to VONS for partnering with us to help transform the lives of our clients! If you know of a local business who could benefit from TMI volunteers or employees, please contact TMI at (800) 877-5452 or info@tmi-inc.org.

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.

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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 RECEIVES FUNDING FROM DDS. SHOULD YOU WISH TO REPORT ANY CONCERNS, PLEASE CONTACT DDS AT (916) 654-1690 OR VIA THE DDS WEBSITE

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