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TMI Clients with IDD Keeping Busy at Home After Pandemic Requires Closure of Some TMI Programs

Updated: May 20, 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) was required to temporarily close several of our programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). While TMI continues to provide in-person essential services, many of our clients who generally receive services in the community are at home with their families.

(Irene C. cooking chilaquiles at home )

One such client is Irene C., who has Down syndrome and is with the TMI Community Integration Training Program (CITP) in the Hemet/San Jacinto area. During her stay-at-home, she is enjoying putting together puzzles, as well as drawing, gardening and watching movies with her family. Irene C. also helps with preparing meals, organizing cabinets and walking the dogs.

“TMI has continued open communication with Irene C. and all of our clients and families to ensure their safety and to offer our support and encouragement that we will get through this together,” said TMI Executive Director Rachel Harris. “Many of our clients are confused and asking when they can return to their community program. We will make that happen as soon as it is deemed safe by Governor Newsom.”

Irene C.’s mother, Norma, who became a TMI Job Coach a couple of years after Irene C. joined TMI, is grateful for the continued communication with TMI.

TMI is wonderful,” said Norma. "I'm happy about the open communication and that they are thinking of our children and their well-being during this time. It makes me happy to know that they are there."

(Irene C. completed a 1,000 piece puzzle during her time at home)

Irene Balderas is Irene C.’s TMI Job Coach. Prior to Governor Newsom’s stay-at-home order, Irene B. assisted Irene C. with volunteering in the community at Sunny Senior Health Care, Valle Vista Calvary Church, Salvation Army, Ramona Rehabilitation, Valle Vista Library, as well as at the San Jacinto Senior Center and Bread Basket Food Pantry, which are two of her favorite volunteer sites. At the Senior Center, Irene C. helps prepare meals for seniors in Hemet and San Jacinto and at the Food Pantry she helps organize and move food products for people in need.

Irene B. said that she is proud of the major changes that Irene C. has gone through since starting in her group. Irene C. needed a lot of encouragement to start tasks, because she was shy, but also because she lacked motivation. After several months in the program, Irene C. became a self-starter, open communicator, and when she finishes tasks and has nothing else to do she asks her co-workers in her group if they need help. Irene C. misses her co-workers, TMI staff, and the community sites.

(Irene C. helping her mom in the kitchen)

“The TMI program has helped in developing Irene's confidence, drive, and independence,” said Irene B. “I look forward to getting back out into the community with our clients to continue to assist them with being the best that they can be. I miss them.”

When things go back to normal, Irene C. can’t wait to join her TMI group to once again do their volunteer work. She also can’t wait to be able to eat at her favorite restaurants including Sizzler, HomeTown Buffet, and local Hemet and San Jacinto spots like La Fogata and El Zarape in Hemet on Florida Avenue, and to go bowling!

Amanda is another TMI client who is home during this time. The past few weeks she has been working on a puzzle which has kept her productive and busy for hours. She has shared her progress with Irene B., who is also Amanda’s TMI Job Coach. Amanda continues to regularly communicate with Irene B. and looks forward to sharing her puzzle progress with her.

(Amanda working on her Disney puzzle)

“I am really impressed with Amanda’s puzzle,” said Irene B. “I have encouraged her to frame it and hang it in her room. It makes me happy to see our clients keeping busy, but I look forward to when we can all be together again.”

Serving more than 1,000 children and adults with IDD, TMI continues to employ staff of more than 400 and hopes to be able to retain all of our employees beyond the pandemic. Many of whom, thankfully, have the ability to work from home. Our employees are doing their best to provide community services remotely, as well as complete required training. TMI continues to offer essential services via our Family Support Services and Community Living Services programs. Please consider making a general donation, which will be used toward the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment for our essential employees when providing in-person services to our clients.

TMI was required to cancel our 3rd Annual Putting for Independence miniature golf tournament in Murrieta. Last year the tournament raised $4,000 for TMI’s Julie Casey Fund, which goes directly to our clients for essential items such as clothing, food, rent assistance and other necessary items. Please consider making a donation to TMI’s Julie Casey Fund.

First established in 1981 in San Diego, TMI offers trusted programs to individuals with IDD, including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, throughout San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties. We have established a web page for COVID-19 Updates and Resources. Please call (800) 877-5452 or email with any questions. Please stay safe!

(Thank you to TMI Job Coach Brad Hyman and TMI Division Manager Jose Mayorga for contributing to this story.)


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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