Updated: Oct 11
Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) recognized several outstanding individuals and organizations at our Transforming Lives Hollywood Nights "An Evening with our Stars" Gala at the beautiful Legacy Hotel Resort & Spa. All proceeds from the evening went directly to TMI's Julie Casey Honorary Fund to benefit our clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It was an amazing night for a wonderful cause!
Chris - Outstanding TMI Client
Chris started with TMI in late 2009 after his Social Worker from San Diego Regional Center referred him for Employment Solutions. Chris and his father thought a job for Chris would be great to help them during a time in their life when good news was needed. Chris agreed to be hired by Job Options, Inc. (JOI) in 2010 at Camp Pendleton Mess Hall Number 53 as a Mess Hall Attendant.
His work shifts required him to be there at 5:00 am to begin providing restaurant services to very hungry Marines. Chris would bus tables, wash dishes, serve food, and sweep and mop the dining room floors. After his initial training period provided by his employer and his TMI Job Coach, Chris excelled and to this day is one of their top employees. He has been recognized over the years by JOI for his continued hard work and dedication to the job. Chris has an excellent attendance record. He rarely takes time off, but when he does it’s well deserved to re-charge his internal battery to get back to his job that he enjoys.
In his 13 years of employment, Chris has had only two TMI job coaches who have provided the best of services to him. He is well established in his current position. The independent skills he demonstrates continues to excel each day he is there. His managers love him, and he is very reliable and consistent with his work. Chris is also well liked by his peers, and they rely on him to help train new staff members when it is warranted. Congratulations, Chris, we are all very proud of you!
Patty Castillo - Outstanding Family Support Services Resource Family
Patty Castillo has been a Resource Parent with TMI since 2007. During this time, she has provided care and support to numerous youth. Two have been under her care for the past 7-8 years. Patty has been open to TMI feedback, flexible with scheduling and is an active member in the lives of the youth she serves. The biological families of the youth in her home love Patty as she maintains good relationships with them and provides a loving home where their children can thrive and feel supported. They really are like family to her. Furthermore, she has her doors open for emergency respite and does not shy away if challenges arise. Patty and her family are valuable and special members of our TMI Resource Families. We feel fortunate to work alongside them to provide the best care possible for our San Diego youth. Congratulations and thank you for all that you do to transform the lives of our clients!
Feeding San Diego - Outstanding Support Partner
Feeding San Diego has been in partnership with TMI since 2017. It started with one Integrated Work community group who volunteered at the main distribution site in Mira Mesa. After the pandemic, as the program began to fully return to the community in 2022, we had very limited community resources for our clients. Most nonprofit organizations were not bringing back volunteers to their organization. Feeding San Diego welcomed us back with open arms in the fall of 2022. TMI was able to place three recurring community groups at the main distribution site.
The TMI groups that volunteer at Feeding San Diego are extremely grateful to be a part of the team. The friendly, warm environment is a great place for TMI clients to learn new work skills, meet new people, and engage with positive, supportive Feeding San Diego staff. Whether it’s gleaning through produce for people to take home or filling backpacks with dry goods, all the groups have a terrific time pitching in to help out those in need.
TMI is grateful to Feeding San Diego for providing volunteer opportunities to clients who have intellectual disabilities. The site is a great place to obtain meaningful work skills and provides a wonderful opportunity to engage with people out in the community. TMI looks forward to our continued partnership with Feeding San Diego which allows our groups to contribute to their community. Thank you for your continued support of the clients we serve!
Job Options, Inc. - Outstanding Community Partner
Job Options, Inc. (JOI) has been in partnership with TMI since 1999. It began with a few clients being hired at the San Ysidro Port of Entry as Janitors cleaning the various administration buildings. To this day, JOI has provided employment to 55 TMI clients who are currently working at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, Balboa Naval Hospital, MCRD, Miramar Commissary, Camp Pendleton Food Services, Camp Pendleton Janitorial, and Camp Pendleton Commissary. The TMI clients who are hired by JOI are committed and determined to provide incredible work services day in and day out. They work all hours of the day. JOI provides an hourly rate way above minimum wage, plus a very comprehensive benefit package. JOI benefits from the hardworking clients and TMI job coaches to ensure quality work services are rendered. TMI is grateful to JOI for providing work opportunities to clients who have intellectual disabilities. TMI managers work hand in hand with their staff to provide well qualified candidates who may not have had an opportunity for meaningful employment elsewhere. With the successful working relationship with JOI continuing to grow, the jobs and opportunities are endless. Thank you, JOI!
Melissa Rapoza - Outstanding TMI Employee and Advocate
Melissa has held many positions at TMI and has worked diligently to provide the best services to the individuals that we support. She started with TMI as a Job Coach, then was promoted to Associate Division Manager, soon after promoted to Division Manager, and from there she was promoted to Associate Director of Integrated Work. She has greatly impacted the lives of our clients in a caring and positive way. Congratulations, Melissa, and thank you for all that you do to transform the lives of our clients!
Sycuan Casino & Resort - Outstanding "Engaged" Community Partner
TMI and Sycuan work closely together to provide the support our clients need to be successful. The first group started in 2017 working in utilities and dishwashing. Sycuan also hired our first individual placement in the same department. The partnership between Sycuan, TMI and our clients has strengthened over the years. Sycuan has also provided TMI with concert and event tickets which were used to reward our staff for the great support they provide to the clients who work there. Sycuan has proven their commitment to an inclusive workforce by continuing to provide employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities and working closely with us to build a workforce that is reflective of the community that they serve. Thank you for your partnership!
Ginger Cohen - Leadership Award for Outstanding Director of Corporate Communications
Ginger is an amazing individual who NEVER EVER stops persevering and pushing the TMI mission forward to benefit those we serve. For 23 years, she has worn many hats within the agency working as Manager of Administrative Services, Director of Finance, Media Communications and Corporate Relations Specialist and, most recently, she was promoted to Director of Corporate Communications. Her ability to diversify her skills and talents is resilient and worthy of applause. No matter what obstacles or challenges she faces, she always gives her very best and delivers exceptional results! We are honored to say that because of her commitment, creativity, passion, and skills, we have been elevated to another level of excellence in our marketing, media and communications. We thank her for truly finding the rhythm to the very heartbeat of our vision and for so eloquently sharing our stories of success in every beat. Because of her unwavering drive and tenacity, we know that we will be able to continue to grow our media presence and tell the beautiful stories of every shining star that glimmers our way. Thank you for making us all stars at TMI, Ginger!
Lihong Ke - Leadership Award for Outstanding Director of Finance
Lihong is one of the most gifted individuals we have had the pleasure of working with. What she brings to this agency is priceless and invaluable. Her genuine concern for the overall financial stability and future of this agency makes us grateful and excited about our projected growth and expansion. In the eight years she has been with the agency, she has shown her ability to thrive and slay challenges in the face of tremendous opposition. The more difficult things get, the more she shines. Her amazing talents and skills are second to none, and we feel that we have found a precious and valuable jewel to be appreciated and treasured within our TMI family. She truly gives us her all each and every day and we feel her genuine care. Because of her brilliant leadership in finance, we were recently able to increase wages significantly this year for our deserving and hardworking staff. She makes working at TMI such a joy with her sense of humor, contagious laughter and amazing work ethic. She is a woman of GREAT integrity and is passionate about assisting TMI in becoming one of the leading agencies in the state of California. With her expertise in finance, dedication, commitment, and support, the sky is truly the limit for our agency and we ARE reaching for the stars!
Congratulations to you all!
Thank you to our community partners who made our gala possible and are helping us to transform lives: Hill CCM, Better Days Community Services, I Strive Community Care, Sycuan Casino & Resort, Lakefront Family Dentistry as well as our individual gala sponsors TMI Board Secretary Cathy Bishop, TMI Board Member Jocelyn Gonzalez and Manivanh Meuangkhot. Thank you also to our in-kind donors, attendees and volunteers. A special thank you to our Mistress of Ceremonies TMI Executive Director Dr. Rachel Harris, Master of Ceremonies TMI Associate Executive Director Jessie Campbell, guest speaker Dr. Michelle Hu, Board speaker Heather Martin, TMI Director of Organizational Engagement & Effectiveness Frances Johnson, Cecilia Nichols - We Like to Party Events, The Bash Hollywood Guest Celebrities, DJ Gil, and photographer/videographer Charlie Cheize.
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. In 2020, we launched Disabled Veteran Employment Services. 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, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Together we can share acceptance and awareness, ultimately contributing to further inclusion.