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Tierra del Sol Foundation’s Ten-Year Club Anniversary Brunch November 22, 2009 Angeles Golf Course

Sunland, CA


Dear Fellow Members of the Ten Year Club, After struggling for some time to come up with just the right words for this message I finally realized just how unimportant these words actually are!! This day is not about words at all – it’s about actions - lots and lots of actions: Getting up and coming in to work each day... Sharing your smile with your fellow staff and with the people you serve... Offering encouragement and help to others when their day didn’t go exactly as planned... Accepting help and encouragement when your day “blew up”... Getting involved with harvest festivals and art shows and plays... Sharing triumphs and tears with the people you serve and their families... Most of all, sharing your heart, your laughter and your spirit with each other... It is the sum total of all of these actions and many more that we have taken together for ten years or longer that has created this organization we call Tierra del Sol. It is the definition of commitment. While I have struggled to find the right words to honor you for your commitment, here is how Abraham Lincoln put it about 150 years ago - and he could have been speaking directly to each of you: “Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none. Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism." Thank you for coming through time after time. Thank you for your character and your integrity. Thank you for making Tierra del Sol the very special place it is.

Steve Miller


Tierra del Sol Foundation’Ten-Year Club Anniversary Brunch 2009 Tierra Staff: Nancy Bissonette-Andrew Rebecca Morrill-Lienhard Charlene Montgomery Steve Miller Rebecca Hamm Julie Snyder Teresa Rathsam Alex Marin Jacquie Williams Keri Giddens Lelani Dixon Laura Huggins Darryl Carlton Edna Moreno Rhonda Haynes Andrea Olvera Lupe Velasco Cesar Ramirez Pamela Mireles Candy Zavala Maria Luisa Gonzalez Jerald Doswell Mary Lou Farren Maria Isela Castellanos Juana Pena Angela Milburn Karen McQuown Wendy Garcia Edgardo Acosta Vilma Linares Kurt Hagihara Angelica Lozano Helen Giron

Congratulations to Our 2009 Honorees for Your Dedication & Service Toward Making Tierra del Sol a Better Place for Those Whom We Serve!


Ed Sovich - Board of Directors Member Joined Tierra Family in 1996 Tierra has been blessed by the presence and the contributions of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Sovich for more than 20 years. Ed has done his best to keep up the tradition of loving service established by his bride Carmen. He has served for 13 years on our Board. And, as sure as we are that our students enjoy eating in Bud’s Place, we should know that every bite was prepared in Ed’s Kitchen. It’s his design and his labor of love – just one of the lasting legacies of Ed’s gift to Tierra del Sol. Thank you Mr. Ed Sovich for your many years of invaluable service.

Celebrating 13 Years of Service Nancy Bissonette-Andrew - Clinical Director Joined Tierra Family in 1983 My “second family” at Tierra has shared in my joy with the births of each of my children, and they continue to be there for me as I’ve experienced the loss of loved ones, as well. My children were nurtured and loved at Tierra by their day care teachers, clients, and staff --- they had such a rich experience. They are better, kinder people because of the relationships they have built over the years at Tierra, either directly with our folks, or through the stories that Mom shares at home.

Celebrating 25 Years of Service

They still think about, and say a prayer for Oscar, or wonder if Terrell got his job yet, and greet Kenny with a smile and a handshake whenever we run into him at a local store. This ability to look past the “disability”, and see and value people for who they really are, and support them in becoming all that they can be, is something Tierra does so well. I’m proud to be part of a team of dedicated “ambassadors” who day in and day out influence others to view our folks in this way, as well.

Rebecca Hamm - Program Director Joined Tierra Family in 1990 Imagine one day tumbling into First Street, drawn in by the artists, their artwork and the dynamic approaches taken to explore their creative visions. On that day, 17 years ago, I entered as a guest artist and left invited to teach at the program that then served eight people. A year of teaching, two more managing the gallery and another fourteen years of directing the program has more than impacted my life. It has given foundation and fire to an evolving vision of fine arts, community and human services that continues to inspire, astound and change me. Daily, I am awed by the personal, professional and transformative effects the Tierra del Sol Vision brings to individuals, local communities and the greater society. I am deeply grateful and humbled to be part of this incredible practice and among those sincerely dedicated to positive growth and equality.

Celebrating 19 Years of Service

Seventeen years ago, my wildest and most dreamy predictions would never have neared the expansiveness I find with my work at Tierra. Thanks for the support, learning, challenge and love that has made this all come into being.


Steve Miller - Executive Director Joined Tierra family in 1990 My mind is really swirling with images right now - 18 + years of life as a Tierran! I remember so vividly going home after walking around the campus - meeting lots of people and talking with Ginny and Nancy – I remember like it was yesterday telling Katie – there’s something very special about this place. There’s just a feeling or spirit about it that is good and joyful and loving. I remember saying and believing that my job will really be just to not screw things up! And today, I believe that more strongly than ever. Having the privilege of reading the collected memories in this book, I see, first of all, that each of you have been touched to the core by this remarkable place. And then I realize that it’s really more than us just being affected by Tierra – it’s somehow that each of us has found here the ability to live out our own individual values and beliefs. And there is fulfillment in that. Each of us who has made Tierra our professional home has brought our unique background and our common values. We have bonded through our common belief in the goodness of our fellow man and the knowledge that each of us can make the world a better place for someone else everyday. (Thank you Darryl, your note really helped me understand this.)

Celebrating 19 Years of Service

The palpable sense of energy and joy and optimism that runs through this organization isn’t in the walls or the water or even the beautiful grounds in Sunland. No - it is in the hearts and minds and actions of each of you wonderful people. And so, when new people come to work here, guess what? We are the Tierra that they experience and come to love just as we have. And so….I guess, maybe for me, my greatest memory will be pouring over these pictures and your words and thinking about all the life passages we have been through together – weddings, births, new moms dropping off their precious bundles in day care, all the laughing and crying about our kids and our parents and our clients Ginny and her remarkable family all here together. I feel very blessed and proud to be a part of what we have created here.

Rebecca Morrill Lienhard - Director of Integration Services Joined Tierra Family in 1990 The thing I love most about my job: There are probably too many moments to count as to why I love my job. It it could be the shine in the eyes of a newly-hired client employee who has just received his first paycheck in his life, or his knowledge that we are now on equal playing fields in the big game of life. It could be the very moment in a Futures Planning meeting when everyone sitting in the room has just realized the true human value of the person being served for the first time in their lives and then realizing the world of opportunities that are truly possible. Or it could be the sense of pride (not for my efforts) I feel when someone that I have worked with for years can stand up in front of an auditorium full of people and say how full and remarkable her life has become. Or it could just be the challenge of each day juggling all of the details, logistics, systems, and conversations... all the while, knowing at the heart of all of these pieces are people waiting and wanting to grow as fast as they could... if I could just get it all going in a straight line a little faster.

Celebrating 19 Years of Service

It could be any or all of these moments and more, I am sure. What I also know to be true is the inspiration that I receive every day of my life, knowing that Tierra touches people – all sorts, with and without disabilities, staff and persons served, community employers, community members, mothers, fathers – in a very human way. And once touched, they will never look at the world the same way again. But even more than all of this, at the end of each day, I go to bed knowing that my kids are proud of their “Mommy” and the work that she does; in turn, I know that they will be better citizens/leaders/mothers because of it and with that, I will have left the world a better and more hopeful place. Personal experiences that I’ve shared with my Tierra family: “Three children, a wonderful husband, my Master’s degree, incredible circle of friends...the list goes on...18 years is a long time!” Page 7


Charlene Montgomery - Family Support Facilitator Joined Tierra in 1977 for 8 years and then again in 1998 What makes you a good person and proud of what you do in life? There are so many moments and memories of my experience at Tierra that answer that question for me. Like so many others, I have both happy and sad memories from eighteen years I’ve spent at Tierra. I feel like a part of Tierra history, because it was one of the nuns from the School Sisters of Notre Dame who hired me! Now that I am getting close to retirement, looking back on my life, I know one thing for sure…if she had not given me this opportunity in 1977, my life would not have been as fulfilling and for sure, not as rewarding.

Celebrating 8+11 Years of Service

With so many years having worked here at Tierra, its hard to narrow down what I love most about my job into only one experience. After I returned to Tierra from a 12 year break (taking care of dad) an opening became available at Tierra assisting clients that were too ill to be in a day program (usually in convalescent hospitals). One client in particular that I have worked with for over 10 years has truly inspired me. Margo’s strength, attitude and will to fight inspire me. Through the years, I have assisted Margo in becoming more independent, enabling her to be more self sufficient in her daily life routines in spite of being afflicted with cancer, overcoming 3 operations, and enduring 2 years of chemotherapy. Tierra has allowed me to be able to support her through these difficult times as she does not have any other support systems in her life. I thank God for Steve Miller who came to her rescue when other resources could not help to support her. It is very rewarding to know I have helped her become a “Warrior” and that I have left my footprint on her heart – but more importantly, she’s left her’s on mine.

I know for certain that anyone who works here is going to heaven.

Julie Snyder - Client Coordinator Joined Tierra in 1991 I will never forget the first time I met Steve Miller. It was my first sort of interview with someone from Tierra. I met him at the Hayvenhurst Tierra West site, as I was applying for a job over there initially. Steve met me and said, “Sorry, I can’t shake your hand; I’ve been cleaning toilets. One of the job trainers was out and I was covering.” Immediately, I knew that if Tierra had an Executive Director who worked with the clients directly and cleaned toilets, then I wanted to work there. I wasn’t able to take the job at Tierra West at that time, but later on, I had a grueling interview with Nancy and Cheryl White. I was hired as a Client Coordinator at Tierra Sunland campus, and so, I began my 16 years.

Celebrating 18 Years of Service

As a Client Coordinator, I have loved the fact that I have had the opportunity to work with such caring and compassionate people, true advocates for our clients and families. The way we are able to support the clients and the families is unbelievable to me. We give parents an opportunity to watch their son or daughter grow and take on new and different challenges. The parents want to have and deserve to have the peace of mind that we give them, so they don’t have to feel scared or fearful and can allow them to have a life. The good news to me about Tierra is that over the years, with all the positive growth and changes, Tierra has (in some ways) never changed. From the day I started, our philosophy and our values have remained the same. We have never lost sight of what we believe in. I have seen so many of our folks come to Tierra and go on to experience greater self confidence, self-esteem and have true pride in themselves and their accomplishments. They have become adults that want to better themselves, to get volunteer jobs, build relationships, work, or simply try new things and discover that they have a natural talent they didn’t know they had. I am continuously exploring, discovering and learning about life from our clients and that makes my life so much better every day. Page 8


Teresa Rathsam - Director of Client Services Joined Tierra Family in 1993 My Dream Job Becoming a High School Counselor used to be my dream job. Not because I wanted to push people into higher education, but because I wanted to help support people and help them grow. I stumbled into this field by working on weekends at a group home. When I got married, I applied for several different types of jobs and Tierra was the first to call me back. Interestingly enough, I did not have the experience to be hired as an Instructor at Tierra over 13 years ago. My first position was as a “One-to-One” instructor. I can say this, Nancy had a good hiring week…Alex and I started on the same day. My position as a Program Director has always fulfilled my need to help people; I am committed to my staff equally as much as I am committed to my clients.

Celebrating 16 Years of Service

As I embark on my new position as Director of Client Services for the Sunland campus, I realize that I have my dream job and that I am on THE DREAM TEAM.

Alex Marin - Program Director Joined Tierra Family in 1993 On August 1st, 1993 I became part of the Tierra family. I vividly recall driving to my first interview a few days before and saying there wasn’t a chance in hell that I would make that hour long drive again, even if I was offered a position. After leaving my interview and meeting some of the people at Tierra, I recall saying to myself there wasn’t a chance in hell I would turn down a position at Tierra… regardless of what it was. There are far too many defining experiences for me to just single one out; whether it be client’s smile of accomplishment after being told by her supervisor how valuable she is as a volunteer worker, another client’s tears of frustration over the world’s inability to understand what he is feeling, or a family’s expression of gratitude for what most of us take for granted on a daily basis. To me, Tierra is not simply a job or a place; it is a part of what I’ve become, what I believe, and what I am.

Celebrating 16 Years of Service

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Jacquie Williams - Client Coordinator Joined Tierra Family in 1994 When asked about a Tierra experience that has inspired me, I realize that those moments range from little everyday happenings to big events....and it’s hard to put into words the dozens of things that have inspired me through the years. I remember one time that had a particular impact on me early on, one that I think helped me see something I needed to see. When I was in CIP – (Community Integration Program) at least ten years ago, I was assisting David (a client we still serve) to learn how to take the bus on his own. I was skeptical and scared for him. He had a habit of falling asleep on the bus (understandable!) and hence missing his stop. David really needed to get this right to move on to his next big step in having his own job – independent of the work enclave. I wasn’t sure if he could do it or not. This would be one of the tests of his ability to be safe. That was my focus.

Celebrating 15 Years of Service

David didn’t know I was in the back of the bus, waiting and watching. When David pulled the cord just before his stop my first reaction was relief – I wanted to know he could do this for me to feel safe for him. But when David got off the bus with the happiest expression on his face –it changed me. The pride in his stance and the confidence in his stride was a LIFE issue for him. It taught me to look beyond my own fears, past the safety issues and look to the LIFE that someone wants. Thanks, David. I’ll never forget it.

Elaine Miller - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1995 My current position is as a Floating Instructor, and I really like it. I enjoy working with the clients and staff, because they all let me know that they really do appreciate my help. It is interesting to me to see how other instructors set up their class, what they do and how our people respond to each class environment. I really love going into the community with my group. You know, years ago, people would stare at us or give us “the glare”. Nowadays, I still see that others are looking at us, but it is because now we belong here. They are looking at us now because our groups are part of the community. This is the longest job I have ever held, and I am not planning on going anywhere soon!

Celebrating 14 Years of Service

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Keri Giddens - Transitions Coordinator Joined Tierra Family in 1995 My view of the growth or positive change in a Tierra participant with whom I have worked: There have been so many from Boaz to Cary to Andrea to Janet...but I always think I am the one who benefits most from the time spent working with them. The thing I’ve loved most about my job: My work at Tierra makes me a better person in the rest of my endeavors. I am a better citizen, coach, parent, student, and family member because of my job. It serves as so much more than a paycheck; it’s a source of inspiration. A personal experience that I shared with my Tierra family: Graduating college!

Celebrating 14 Years of Service

“Every experience I have had at Tierra inspires me to believe that there is good in every person, as well as ability for growth and strength and courage” - Keri

Lelani Dixon - Program Director Joined Tierra Family in 1995 I had never worked in this field prior to being hired by Tierra del Sol to be the Animal Care Instructor and Farm Manager twelve years ago. I had a class full of active and enthusiastic folks who challenged and taught me on a daily basis. In addition to caring for the farm and animals, my class enjoyed outings that were physical in nature.

Celebrating 14 Years of Service

One hot summer day, I went on a hiking trip in Altadena with three people from my class, Cathy, Jackie and Eric. After hiking for about a half mile, we came to a stream that we needed to cross in order to continue on our trail. The water level was extremely low and there were rocks that could be stepped on to cross. Cathy hopped across with no help and no problem. Jackie was more tentative and wanted me to walk beside her and give her a hand to balance (the water level didn't come above the rubber on the bottom of my tennis shoes – so no problem). She made it across with no mishaps. Finally it was Eric's turn. He bravely stepped onto the first stone with a firm grip on my hand and then the second stone, but as he stepped on the third, he faltered and I turned toward him and gave him my second hand to help him regain his balance. Eric had another idea entirely. To save himself, he leapt into my arms, wrapped his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck and held on like his life depended on it. There I stood, in the middle of a stream, with a full-grown man clinging to me for life in a ¼ inch of water. The only danger was that I would laugh so hard I would drop him (and myself). Somehow I managed to walk across the stream with my 'burden' and set him safely on the other side, collapsing in a fit of giggles. He too saw the humor in the situation and joined in. Well, I could be working in a bank….

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Laura Huggins - Day Care Teacher Joined Tierra Family in 1996 Why I love my job... I have the greatest job, because I just love kids. A real long time ago, I had my own day care business out of my home and I loved the kids I cared for so much. Yet, in all my years at Tierra, it is even better because our mission is so special and meaningful. The whole organization is so rewarding. I have seen wonderful change & growth in the clients who come in to day care to help out...at first, I really had my doubts, but it was something I had to learn, too. I personally witnessed the growth of confidence in people like Elaine, Terri and others. Tierra really is all about families, because that was Tierra is to me: one big family.

Celebrating 13 Years of Service

I have had the privilege of caring for so many babies, toddlers and little ones over the years here at Tierra. The wonderful difference is that its not just been a “day care job”...I have had the luxury of really loving these children, and getting to know their parents and families for the great people they are. I could never have done it all these years without Claudia, who knows me so well, we finish each other’s sentences! We work so well together and I am so grateful to say I am part of the Tierra family.

Darryl Carlton - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1996 My unforgettable Tierra experience has been just to look and see Boaz Korn change. He used to look sad, but now he is happy most of the time. This has inspired me! The thing I love about my job is just to see clients trying their best and to know that if they need any help, I will be there to help them. That is what I love. When you ask me about what I have seen in the way of growth or positive change in a person from Tierra, it is Boaz. In the past, he did not get to go out in the community. Some days he would look so sad. But now, he gets to go out most of the time. He looks so happy. And I think that has made life for Boaz Korn great and positive.

Celebrating 13 Years of Service Rhonda Haynes - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1997 The thing that has meant the most to me in my job is the respect everyone has for our clients. Each and everyone of us has some sort of disability or struggle in this life...I just try to treat each person I serve in the same way that I would want to be treated. In my 10 plus years, I have seen Tierra transform from a place where we “count behaviors” to a destination where people count. It is a great job that makes me feel like I can do anything in this world!

Celebrating 12 Years of Service

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Edna Moreno - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1997 I really like my job and my boss, Alex. I enjoy seeing clients and not only helping them but helping their families too. The other nice thing about Tierra del Sol is being with people of all types of cultures and the diversity among us.

Celebrating 12 Years of Service

Andrea Olvera - Instructor Join Tierra Family in 1997 I found out about Tierra from my sister, Angela, who I happened to visit at work. At first I thought, “This is really nice place.� Ten years ago it was harder to get a job at Tierra - I think I went through 2 interviews. But I am glad I did! What I like about working here at Tierra is that the organization does things like this 10-year dinner for the staff...giving out pins, remembering our birthdays, recognizing how long we’ve been here and really taking notice of our good work at regular staff meetings. I really enjoy each student I work with, and enjoy the staff too. Tierra is a really supportive place.

Celebrating 12 Years of Service Lupe Velasco - Human Resources Coordinator Joined Tierra Family in 1997 The thing I love most about my job is: The fact that there was opportunity for growth and advancement for me from starting as a Receptionist to being promoted to Human Resources Coordinator. In my current position I have the opportunity to interview individuals with different cultural diversity and enjoy that. At Tierra del Sol we are a loving family so I am able to see my family grow each time I hire someone. Everyone here at Tierra del Sol is so supportive, understanding, and we all work well as a team. I feel very blessed to know that I make a difference in other peoples lives. I would like to Thanks Steve and Nancy for giving me this wonderful opportunity to be part of Tierra family. There is no other place I would rather be at then at Tierra del Sol.

Celebrating 12 Years of Service

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Cesar Ramirez - CIP Area Manager Joined Tierra Family in 1996 and then again in 1999 I can remember one of my first days working for Tierra del Sol. I was left in a classroom with about 8 clients. I did not know what I needed to do at the time, and after a few minutes of just staring at each of the clients, they started to laugh. I then knew that I was in for a journey that I would never forget. I am so blessed to be able to work for an organization that walks what they preach. In the ten plus years that I have worked for Tierra del Sol, on of the best feelings I’ve had has been to see a grown adult jump up and down for a paycheck. I ask myself every two weeks why I don’t jump up and down every time I get paid. I thank my close friend Sergio for introducing me to an organization that has changed my life forever.

Celebrating 2+10 Years of Service Pamela Mireles - Business Manager Joined Tierra Family in 1998 I first came to Tierra in 1998 from a temp agency and I thought I would only work here a few weeks and then be back at home with my three young children. Yet, here I am, ten years later! My first interaction with a client was with Sean from the CIP program. He walked out the front door and introduced himself to me with much confidence. When I was introduced to Steve a week later, I was a little confused because I thought that I already met the Executive Director, Sean. In February of 2007, I began a new chapter at Tierra as the Business Manager. With the guidance and patience of Steve, Teresa, Kevin and my many mentors, I'm finding my way in this new position. I feel truly blessed to work for this foundation. Thank you!

Celebrating 11 Years of Service Candy Zavala - Area Manager Joined Tierra Family in 1998 Not too long after I started working here I was at a training given by Rebecca and at this training I was was given a poem to read. This poem was written by a girl who described her brother who had autism. As I read this poem I began to cry as she explained how she didn’t understand how he could take apart a soda machine and put it back together again, but did not know how to put the coin in it to get a soda out of the machine. Although it was a long time ago that I read the poem, I remember it and it reminds me of why I do what I do and it makes me feel good about who I work with.

Celebrating 11 Years of Service

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Mary Lou Farren - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1998 A Tierra experience that I will ever forget that has inspired me was my first day at work! I remember walking into classroom 15 – seeing all the clients - getting ready for the morning activities (that day it was music therapy). All the clients were sitting in a circle and Daniel, the music therapist, was singing, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”. As he was singing, Lupe, one of the was holding on to a tambourine and moving to the music. Although she was blind and could not talk but could feel the rhythm of the music. It was beautiful to watch her. I almost started to cry – to see how much this music touched her and others around her, I knew at that moment that I wanted to commit to working with this population.

Celebrating 12 Years of Service

One of the events that I love to do here at Tierra are the Harvest Festivals! The first year I attended, Jerald was a scarecrow and I was dressed up as the “Tierra Queen”! I had wings strapped to my back and all the kids thought I could fly. It is fun to be among all the families and my coworkers at this event.

Maria Isela Castellanos - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1998 The opportunity to be surrounded with great people that are filled with love is one thing that I love about my job. Throughout my years of service to Tierra, I have worked and helped people who have inspired me to grow as a person - a person that can help others and make a difference. Tierra has not only been a job for me, it has been a place where I have learned the value of each individual I work with. I have found wonderful friendships that have helped me through my struggles in life. I have surpassed the struggles with the love, support and words of wisdom that I found within those friendships. Another thing I love about my job is working with people with special needs. I enjoy the opportunity to help my clients work hard to reach their goals and to be a partn of their success. I am rewarded by the love, smiles and gratitude and those alone are a blessing!

Celebrating 11 Years of Service Maria Luisa Gonzales - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1998 The thing I love most about my job is working with my clients and also my voluntary jobs. We are all team players here at Tierra del Sol!

Celebrating 11Years of Service

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Jerald Doswell - Program Aide Joined Tierra Family in 1998 The thing I love most about my job is that everyday I get to help someone out by meeting their needs. I am very fortunate to have great and special coworkers and supervisors throughout my time here at Tierra. My supervisors have helped me to become a better person through what I do. They have been my coaches and friends who encourage me to do my best. Like Teresa Rathsam...every time I talked with her, there was always a life changing moment and valuable lesson to be learned. She would just let me “be Jerald” and I tell people how great a supervisor she is - the best in my book! Among coworkers, Julie Snyder has always encouraged me, and when my dad wasn’t doing well, she was someone who I could talk to and for that I am grateful. They have all helped to change my life. Jackie has also been a great encourager for me during my time here at Tierra. When I first started, she would always thank me for my hard work and for being a great team player. She once told me that “we don’t always know what we’re doing, but God sure knew who He needed at Tierra” and to this day I’ve never forgotten those words

Celebrating 11 Years of Service

It feels good to be appreciated by my coworkers, supervisors and clients. I will never forget you and I will always be there for them as they have been for me.

Juana Pena - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1998 Working for Tierra has introduced me to a completely different and wonderful world. The best part for me is that you start this job thinking that you are going to be teaching the clients and helping them when, what actually happens is that it ends up the other way around and you are the one learning from them. At the end of the day I feel really good when I go home because I feel satisfied about helping someone else and about what I did that day for Tierra del Sol.

Celebrating 11 Years of Service Angela Milburn - Health Services Coordinator Joined Tierra Family in 1998 The thing I love most about my job is the people I’m around. I am so grateful for the privilege to serve the people we serve. They teach me so much about what it means to have joy, to persevere and overcome challenges with dignity, and remembering to focus on what’s most important in life – living in the present and reminding the people around us how much we love and appreciate them.

Celebrating 11 Years of Service

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Claudia Avila - Daycare Teacher Joined Tierra Family in 1998 I love working at Tierra del Sol because this organization is so supportive, understanding and treats their staff like family. What’s more, I enjoy working with the children in daycare because seeing their smiles everyday brightens up my day! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this great opportunity.

Celebrating 11 Years of Service Norma Cahoon - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1998 The thing I like most about my job is working with my clients. I try to inspire them to do things on their own so they gain confidence in themselves to interact with society and the community. To work with a client and see him or her progress an become self-sufficient gives me great satisfaction.

Celebrating 11 Years of Service Karen McQuown - Art Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1998 A Tierra experience that I will never forget which has inspired me happened about 6 years ago during my first 6 months in the ceramics room. I noticed that several clients were only going into the art room and never attended ceramics. A student named Maria was a beautiful artist who caught my eye and I asked her if she would please give my class a 1-week trial. I promised her that she wouldn’t get messy, but could just come in and try it out. Her first week was a great success. One month later she saw the results of her works in a finished, wonderful plate and she was hooked! She then continued on to be one of my best and favorite clients. Maria inspired me to keep pushing and not to give up on new students. The thing I love most about my job is knowing that others – clients and staff, both – who have never worked with clay, or feel that they are not an artist, can just hold a ball of clay and TRY making something and seeing and feeling how good touching the clay makes them feel. It’s just so therapeutic.

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Wendy Garcia - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1998 I love working here at Tierra del Sol. I have been here for 10 years and it seems like I started yesterday. One of my most memorable experiences here at Tierra that inspired me was when I noticed a client in the pool one afternoon who was in distress. I went over to him and was able to use my skills and training that I received here at Tierra del Sol which allowed me to help him. Another reason I love my job is when a client or clients accomplish one of their goals and I was able to help them achieve it with my skills and expertise that I learned here at TdS. I feel like I have a second family here and I am thankful to God that I found Tierra del Sol.

Celebrating 11 Years of Service Edgardo Acosta - Program Aide Joined Tierra Family in 1998

My relationship with my clients as well as with my fellow staff is very special to me. The thing I love most about my job is finding joy as I teach my clients how to be independent. I also love seeing my clients progress everyday.

Celebrating 11 Years of Service Helen Giron - Job Trainder Joined Tierra Family in 1999

As a job trainer it is my responsibility to teach them many job skills and how to accomplish them. The clients see me as their teacher. But in reality they teach me many things on a daily basis. With them, I learn to be patient, to be strong, to work hard. They have taught me that with perseverance I can accomplish anything. All these lessons coming from people that are perceived as “disabled�. What great teachers they are. Working for Tierra for the past 10 years has given me many wonderful experiences and may they keep coming!

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Angelica Lozano - Job Trainder Joined Tierra Family in 1999 I have been at Tierra del Sol for 10 yeras now. I really like to be here because of the different opportunities that are given within this place. One of the many reasons is that I get to meet new people and I like working in a team. The challenges of working with my clients have helped me grow as an individual.

Celebrating 10 Years of Service Vilma Linares - Instructors Aid Joined Tierra Family in 1999 I enjoy working at Tierra helping the clients, that’s what God had planned for me. I enjoy the great communication and the team work we experience at Tierra del Sol and I’m very thankful for that.

Celebrating 10 Years of Service Kurt Hagihara - Instructor Joined Tierra Family in 1999 My main goal at Tierra del Sol is to assist adults with developmental disabilities. It's been very rewarding to see some of the people I've worked with make amazing progress and become great friends.

Celebrating 10 Years of Service

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A Decade of Service