During a crucial period in New Mexico’s history, a statewide closure of mental institutions released individuals into communities throughout the state. Unfortunately, many communities were ill prepared to provide a successful transition from institutionalized living. Family advocates in Roswell, NM recognized the problem and incorporated Tobosa in 1978. By the efforts of these trailblazers, disabled individuals, having experienced segregation, tucked away behind walls in every corner of the state, found care and support within the Roswell community. Today, at Tobosa, we continue to shed light on the challenges faced by those living with developmental disabilities.
In the first days after the closing of institutions like Villa Solano, parents found ways to support each other and schedule activities for their children. Our founding families helped provide hot lunches and coordinate rides to and from school. These modest actions assisted individual families for a short term, but the difficult road ahead required more strategic planning. While supporting individual families was an important start, we believed in organizing the greater community for the future. As families shared success stories with others around Roswell, we began playing a major role in providing more elaborate developmental services across the community.
We began with providing Roswell’s community of disabled individuals with therapy suited to their needs. We scheduled and joined them on important visits to the doctor. We helped them gain employment opportunities and we discovered ways of cultivating their talents. What started as family-oriented advocacy, turned into a community-wide organization successfully developing disabled individuals for independent living.
Having realized what once seemed impossible, we have experienced our share of growth. Throughout the last 30 years, we increased funding and acquired national accreditation. Programs like the supported employment, residential, day, and early childhood services expanded greatly. Individuals like Daniel and Felix, who for years, lived in incredibly poor and inhumane conditions away from the outside world, are now growing their own small businesses, using beautiful art to visualize their emotions, and creating a world for themselves. Through our work, Daniel, Felix, and many more have modeled what a person can do if they are given a chance to do it.
With the strong leadership of our Executive Director, Joe Madrid, our committed staff, our families, and our caring community helped all this come to fruition. From the small beginnings of nine staff and a budget of just under $112,000 in 1979 to 195 employees and a budget of $7 million, we have seen exponential growth, but we have also lead in fulfilling the desires of every individual we have encountered. Today, we provide opportunities for individuals to live their lives to the fullest, regardless of any challenge or disability.
With ongoing advocacy and outreach to the greater community, we work hard to remove the stigma of developmental disabilities and we continue to champion those we serve. Ultimately, we create a safe space where individuals can embody the vibrant and colorful pattern of the tightly knit fabric that exists in Roswell and the greater Chaves County.