top of page

Our Client Shaun is Celebrating 10 Years as a TMI Employee - Disability Doesn't Mean Inability

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

Shaun proudly showing off his TMI award for 10 years of service
Shaun proudly showing off his TMI award for 10 years of service

If you have visited the “San Diego” Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) office in the last 10 years, chances are you encountered our employee and client Shaun whose good nature and smile (pre-mask, but he is always smiling with his eyes) brighten our office. The work Shaun does for TMI, a nonprofit serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as an Administrative Aide helps to ensure that our offices are stocked, cleaned and running smoothly.

"Shaun brings sunshine wherever he goes and loves to engage with others around him,” said TMI Executive Director Rachel Harris. “He never fails to flash that big beautiful smile and ask how your day is going. We need more individuals like Shaun in this world, who are friendly, hardworking and simply kind.”

Shaun with his co-worker Vanessa and TMI Job Coach Beverly celebrating his birthday (pre-pandemic)
Shaun with his co-worker Vanessa and TMI Job Coach Beverly celebrating his birthday (pre-pandemic)

Shaun’s desire to earn a living drove him to want to work at TMI. Being a social butterfly, Shaun was also eager to work with the TMI staff since he has been a client with us since 2004. Seeing his co-workers is Shaun’s favorite part about working at TMI and his favorite task is shredding paper. While Shaun has struggled with being a bit too social around the office at times, particularly when that time had to be limited due to the pandemic, his wonderful TMI Integrated Work Job Coach Beverly Edwards can stir Shaun back in the right direction. Beverly has been Shaun’s Job Coach for many years and does an amazing job of working with him and his Integrated Work co-workers Sandy and Vanessa.

Shaun on the drums
Shaun doing what he loves!

While the pandemic has been a challenge for us all, Shaun has dealt with it by staying active, hiking, going to the San Diego Zoo, Sea World and spending time with family, friends and his church. Shaun loves meeting new people, playing card games, shopping, watching movies, playing computer games, and is also an excellent drummer and has sat in as a drummer with several bands.

Shaun feeding chickens
The "chicken whisperer"

“Shaun is a LIGHT and makes friends WHEREVER he goes,” said Shaun’s mom Diana Papworth. “He absolutely loves people and is happiest when he in engaged with others. Shaun also loves animals and has been called the “chicken whisperer” by our friend who raises chickens. The one anti-social chicken on the farm adores Shaun and will climb up on his lap. Shaun has great empathy for others. He is genuinely concerned when someone is sad and he does everything that he can to cheer them up. Shaun loves to help and feels a sense of accomplishment when doing so. He also likes to feel independent by doing things himself such as going through the self-check-out at Target and Costco and scanning, paying for and bagging his items. Shaun’s work at TMI helps him feel important and more independent. I am very proud of him!” After a break due to the pandemic, Shaun recently started working in the TMI office again and is very happy to be back and saving money for a Disneyland trip! We asked Shaun for his favorite quote and he said “I can do it myself.” He has certainly embraced…Toward Maximum Independence! Thank you, Shaun, for being a wonderful client for 17 years and an awesome TMI employee for 10 years. We love having you on our team!

Shaun with his Integrated Work co-workers Sandy and Vanessa
Shaun with his Integrated Work co-workers Sandy and Vanessa

The Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Integrated Work (San Diego County) and Community Integration Services (Imperial County) day programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are designed to meet the employment and community integration needs of individuals who are over the age of 18 and are Regional Center clients. These services are funded by local Regional Centers with dollars from the State Department of Developmental Services at a 1:3 staff to client ratio.


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.


bottom of page