Updated: Oct 28, 2021
A lover of Starbucks and Mexican food, Darrel will be remembered fondly as a very active gentleman who loved to be out and about in his community. A Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) client for more than 20 years, Darrel will be missed by many. He knew people everywhere he went. Employees at many local restaurants in Rancho Penasquitos grew to love not only Darrel, but his TMI Facilitator Tom LaScala. Some of Darrel’s favorite places to visit were Starbucks, McDonald’s, N.Y. Giant Pizza to chat with the owner, Joey, and Mi Ranchito to chat with the owner, Mauricio. He loved to talk to the employees of just about anywhere he went. Each time Darrel went to have his power wheelchair repaired at Mobility Solutions, he had fun talking with Mel, Carmen, Rink, Jessie and the staff. Darrel especially looked forward to going to church on Sundays. He also enjoyed going to his day programs and SDSU Peterson Gym to workout.
“Darrel spread joy wherever he went,” said Tom. “He was always excited to see puppies or babies and would always first ask how old they were.”
Darrel grew up in San Diego with his older brother, Brian, and younger sister, Peggy. He attended Escondido High School and then later transferred to Fallbrook High School. He enjoyed camping with his family and playing at the beach. His mom, Barbara, said that as a child Darrel would sometimes ask her to tie the kitchen towel on him so he could play in the yard as superman and was very friendly with everyone even at a young age.
“I had the pleasure of working with Darrel for a few years,” said TMI Case Manager Jenna Plante. “Darrel had many strengths, but his ability to keep living his life the way he wanted made an impact on me. Darrel had a lot of health problems that he had to deal with, but they never slowed him down. He couldn’t stand being stuck at home and loved being out and about. He definitely kept his TMI staff very busy with his activities. I will remember Darrel for his love of his community, love of coffee, his smile, and his ability to persevere.”
Three years ago, TMI assisted Darrel to reconnect with his family after many years apart and whereabouts unknown. As a result, Darrel was not only able to find his family, but he was able to spend time with them in the last years of his life which gave him great joy.
“It was a very important time in Darrel’s life when he reconnected with his family,” added Tom. “Darrel called his mom regularly to tell her he loved her. He spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter with his family as well. On occasion, Darrel would meet his brother and family for dinner at Richie’s Diner in Murrieta. Darrel loved his family and proudly showed off the gifts they gave him.”
Darrel was with TMI’s Supported Living program, which assists our clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities to develop and build skills so they can do things for themselves; be independent. We also help our clients develop relationships with neighbors and other members of the community so they can identify and discover activities and places where they can meet people, make friends and become productive, contributing participants in the community. We helped Darrel to do just that. We believe he was at peace when he passed with both his family and his TMI family at his side.
“I worked with Darrel for about 5 years starting back in 2006,” said TMI Case Manager Monika Driscoll. “Due to changes in my caseload, I came back to Darrel in March of 2019. We quickly reconnected as we had seen each other over the years at annual TMI events, such as picnics and holiday parties. It means a lot to have been there during Darrel’s final days and see his family and staff of over 13 years by his side during his last moments. I’m so glad we were able to reconnect and have a final cup of coffee and a doughnut together. It is perhaps my fondest memory now.”
Thanks for the memories, Darrel. We will miss you!
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.