Ten years ago Diana didn’t have a job or income and felt that she was a burden on her family. She wore the same clothes for years on end, because she lacked the funds to buy herself new ones. Then her life took a change for the better. She was referred by the San Diego Regional Center to Toward Maximum Independence (TMI), a nonprofit serving children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
When Diana was a newborn she fell from a bed and suffered a brain seizure which left her with a developmental disability. TMI Independent Living Case Manager Keltoum Cherki assisted Diana in applying for health insurance, food stamps and Social Security benefits. Within a month she received her health insurance coverage and food stamps. Social Security proved more difficult; they denied her benefits. TMI kept applying and Social Security kept denying her. Finally, in 2014, TMI appealed the decision and Diana was granted her benefits.
In 2016, TMI helped Diana find her own apartment in a new development. Diana was on her way to a new life.
Diana once said “I don’t know where I would be without TMI. When I felt alone and desperate, they were there to tell me that I am okay and that I am not alone.”
Even in the most challenging of times, Diana never gave up on her dream of being a mother. She is now a mother to a beautiful baby boy named Ethan.
When Diana told Keltoum that she was expecting a child with her boyfriend Edgemont and wanted to have a natural and organic childbirth, TMI connected her with the University of California San Diego Nurse Midwifery Service, as well as attended Diana’s meetings with her midwife.
Diana had a successful delivery and was overjoyed to welcome her son! Like many new mothers, Diana faced challenges including holding the baby, breastfeeding, and keeping Ethan safe. TMI staff were able to assist Diana with those challenges by helping her follow and apply the midwife’s instructions.
“It gives me great happiness to see Diana enjoying motherhood and caring for her child,” said Keltoum.
TMI gave Diana a crib that will later convert to a bed which was purchased with funds from the TMI Julie Casey Honorary Fund. The fund provides grants to TMI clients with I/DD for essential purposes. Diana was extremely happy and excited to receive her gift! Given what happened to Diana as a newborn, having a safe place for Ethan to sleep means the world to her.
“TMI has a great impact on my life, I could never be where I am without them,” said Diana. “TMI has changed my life, gave me hope and made my dreams come true.”
Diana is smart, funny, friendly, and a big dreamer. She hopes to one day purchase a home for her family. She likes to draw and loves spending time with Edgemont and Ethan, as well as her grandparents.
“My hope for Diana is that all of her dreams come true,” added Keltoum. “She dreams big and works hard to achieve her dreams. Diana knows that TMI will always be there to assist her with achieving her dreams.”
We are extremely happy for you, Diana! Congratulations!
Please consider making a donation to the TMI Julie Casey Honorary Fund to help us continue to directly assist our clients like Diana. We thank you in advance! Please feel free to contact us for additional information.
The TMI Independent Living program assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live as independently as possible at home with the necessary support. The program provides up to 80 hours a month of one-on-one support to adults with disabilities living in their own home. Services are focused on skill development and can include, but are not limited to:
· Money management
· Meal planning and preparation
· Shopping and accessing community resources
· Safety, health and household management
· Parenting education
· Budgeting, bill paying, financial management
· Community orientation, access and participation
· Accessing community resources
· Social skills, relationship building
(Thank you to Keltoum Cherki for contributing to this story and for being a wonderful TMI Case Manager!)
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.