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Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month - Taressa's Story

In 1987, President Reagan recognized March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to increase “public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities” and to provide the “encouragement and opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.”

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We are kicking off the month by sharing our client Taressa's story. In September 2020, Taressa started as a Courtesy Clerk at Ralph's with the support of a Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Supported Employment Job Coach. Magda Tejeda has been Taressa's TMI Job Coach for a year and is extremely proud of her! Several Ralph's managers have stated that Taressa is a wonderful employee, a fast learner and very friendly with everyone. She works the opening shift from 5:00 am-1:30 pm and is always on time.

Taressa happily practicing on the register as Magda checks out
Taressa happily practicing on the register as Magda checks out

In the summer of 2021, the Ralph's Front Manager asked Magda if Taressa would like to practice on the register. Taressa was thrilled! Taressa is now practicing twice a week and hopes to move up to a cashier position. Taressa is a shining example that DISABILITY DOESN'T MEAN INABILITY!


An estimated 1 in 6 people are born with a developmental disability. Just like all of us, they are born with hopes, dreams and the drive to contribute to society. Since 1981, TMI has transformed thousands of lives by providing assistance to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, giving them the ability to realize their hopes and dreams. It is important that everyone should have the opportunity to reach their full potential with opportunities to perform meaningful activities or work with support, if needed, to promote success.

Our clients can absolutely enjoy the rewards of being a contributing member in society and have the satisfaction and pride that comes with having a job or volunteering. The TMI Employment Solutions program works with our clients to secure and maintain gainful employment in the community, if desired, and also works in collaboration with local businesses to develop volunteer opportunities for our clients. Although paid work is the desired outcome for our clients, many are working as volunteers at a wide variety of nonprofit organizations throughout San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties. Please contact us should you wish to learn more about hiring a TMI client.

By sharing Taressa's story and stories like hers, we are highlighting that, with the right support, individuals with developmental disabilities can achieve their goals.

We are very proud of Taressa and know that great things lie ahead for her. Keep up the great work, Taressa!

(Thank you to Magda Tejeda for contributing to this story and for being a wonderful TMI Job Coach!)


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 and Instagram. Together we can share acceptance and awareness, ultimately contributing to further inclusion.


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