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Cooking Up Independence: Toward Maximum Independence Clients Enjoy New Cooking Class

Updated: Jan 31

Tina Quesada and Nancy Morgutia demonstrating teamwork with our clients
Tina Quesada and Nancy Morgutia demonstrating teamwork with our clients

Happy faces, laughter, and another step toward independence. This isn't your average cooking class – it's the Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Community Integration Training Program (CITP) teaching our clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities valuable life skills.

Tina providing instruction to our clients
Tina providing instruction to our clients

Led by the enthusiastic TMI Job Coach Tina Quesada, these budding chefs are whipping up not just culinary delights, but also learning cooking essentials and safety. Thanks to Tina's resourcefulness and a warm welcome from New Hope Church in Corona, the CITP program now hosts a weekly kitchen where clients can hone their cooking skills.

One week included preparing rich, gooey brownies as clients learned the magic of measuring, mixing, and baking. Another week, the class sizzled with the satisfaction of mastering perfectly golden grilled cheese sandwiches and crispy tater tots. Each step – from buttering the bread to flipping the sandwiches – is a lesson in independence, precision, and of course, teamwork.

Our clients learning new skills
Our clients learning new skills

The program boosts our client’s practical skills. They beam with pride at their culinary creations and the newfound confidence they bring to the table (pun intended!).

Tina’s tireless dedication and infectious enthusiasm is the secret ingredient that makes this program work.

Nancy working with our clients
Nancy working with our clients

From sourcing ingredients to patiently guiding each step, Tina goes above and beyond to ensure our clients are empowered and having a blast.

"This is the highlight of the week for our clients," said TMI Associate Division Manager Jeanette DeLuna. "I have had great feedback from parents and clients about how much they really enjoy this activity. Tina consistently goes above and beyond for our clients!"

Thank you to Tina, as well as our other outstanding Job Coaches Pat Carroll, Nancy Morgutia, Nila Ambrossi, and Robert Barraza for making this a wonderful program for our clients.

Tina overseeing the cooking process
Tina overseeing the cooking process

The TMI Community Integration Training Program is spreading its wings and is now offered across San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties. The program is designed as a vocational and social skills training program to recognize, develop and build the necessary skills for our clients to participate in their community, all at the level at which the client chooses. Clients generally start the process by volunteering throughout the community at various sites. They continue at their own speed, in line with their desires and abilities, while working toward their own personal goals.

The goal of the CITP is to offer all available resources for community integration and includes, but is not limited to, improvement in self-help, socialization, job acquisition and/or retention, and learning adaptive skills.

Training and support are provided in a community setting, consisting of small businesses, nonprofit organizations, churches, schools, animal shelters, or any location with the opportunity to hone skills and work on client goals. Individualized adaptations will be developed if needed to ensure maximum performance.


CITP services can include:

·       Vocational training

·       Self-advocacy

·       Social skills development

·       Educational or job exploration

·       Community safety & emergency preparedness

·       Mobility training

·       Development of natural supports 

If you are interested in community-based, person-centered services with individual supports to assist and enrich your life, please contact us to get started. We look forward to hearing from you!

P.S. Craving more stories about our amazing clients and dedicated coaches? Follow us on social media!


Founded in 1981, Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to transforming the lives of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and veterans with disabilities. TMI strives to help our clients to realize their hopes and dreams by providing Employment Solutions, Community Living Services and Family Support Services. To stay connected with us, follow us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, and Instagram. Together we can share acceptance and awareness, ultimately contributing to further inclusion.


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