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Tommie Ruffino Celebrates 30 Years of Transforming Lives

Without a doubt, Thomas "Tommie" Ruffino has transformed the lives of many of our clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities during his 30 years with us. Tommie’s dedication to clients with the Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Supported Living (SL) program is beyond measure. Tommie has lived with TMI’s SL client, Clay, for more than eight years and has provided services to him for more than 14 years. The impact he has had in the lives of many of our clients over the years is invaluable!

“Tommie walks the walk when it comes to taking care of his clients,” said TMI Case Manager Jenna Plante. “He has a huge heart and truly loves what he does. Tommie has treated all of the clients he has supported like they are his family. In those 30 years, he has supported two clients until they passed away.
Tommie never misses a holiday or a chance to decorate. Clay loves decorating for the holidays and Tommie helps him get the whole house decorated for Halloween and Christmas. Tommie encourages Clay to try new things that are out of his comfort zone, but are good for him. Tommie has helped to make a house a home with all of the clients he has supported.”

A 2018 TMI Honoree for Outstanding Employee, Tommie shared with us what he loves about working at TMI, what inspires him and more!

TMI CLS Director Angela Newmeyer, Tommie, Jenna Plante and TMI Facilitator Angel Segura when Tommie was honored
TMI CLS Director Angela Newmeyer, Tommie, Jenna Plante and TMI Facilitator Angel Segura when Tommie was honored

Q. What interested you about working at TMI?

A. I loved the idea of helping others and the feeling of fulfillment I would get working here.

Q. What is your favorite part about working at TMI?

A. The interaction with those that you truly care about and want to see succeed in having a great life.

Q. What challenges do you face?

A. There’s always challenges which makes it interesting and it’s wonderful when you see those challenges being met.

Tommie & Clay at the Grand Canyon
Tommie & Clay loving life!

Q. How have you handled the challenges?

A. I feel being patient and caring helps to succeed in the challenges given. Q. How are you assisting TMI clients during the pandemic?

A. Just trying to keep them safe and happy, as well as keeping busy with things to do that are within the guidelines. Q. How does making a difference in the lives of our clients make you feel?

A. It gives me meaning in my life and absolute joy. Q. What are your hopes for the future of individuals with developmental disabilities?

A. That they are all treated as anyone else, with respect and that they can enjoy a happy and fulfilled life.

Q. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

A. Traveling, being with family and friends, and celebrations.

Q. Who do you admire and why?

A. Those who have challenges, whether it be mental or physical, and achieve incredible goals for themselves. It’s beautiful.

Q. What is a quote that is meaningful to you?

A. I’ve always loved this quote from Helen Keller: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.”

Q. Is there anything additional that you would like readers to know?

A. I feel so blessed to be a part of such an incredible and heartfelt agency that really cares about the well-being of our clients.

We are grateful for you, Tommie! We look forward to you continuing to transform the lives of our clients for many years to come. Thank you for all that you do and congratulations on 30 amazing years!


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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