If you do not know about Tobosa, this is my opportunity to introduce you to what we do and who we are. I’m excited to share with you some inside information about Tobosa’s forty years of operations.
Fundamentally, Tobosa is here to provide critical and essential services to people of all ages who need help in learning everyday tasks and work skills. Throughout the last forty years, continuing today, services to our clients are Tobosa’s primary focus.
The last forty years have not always been easy. There have been challenges from things like lack of funding, lack of workforce, changes in expectations, to changes in standards and service. All of these things have caused struggles and stress in our day to day operations. Yet we persevere because our work is important.
What makes our work fulfilling is to see and hear about the progress and successes being made by the adults, children, and families we serve. I know some of you may think, “this is what we hear from all non-profits.” We invite you to make the time to see and experience the smiles and joys that we see in the individuals we support daily. We want you to be able to fully appreciate what we have witnessed and really understand why we do what we do.
Tobosa began serving clients in September 1978, birthed from the grassroots efforts of parents who wanted a better life for their children than they could expect during that time. The newly formed charter members of the Board of Directors hired an Executive Director who unfortunately vanished. And I mean literally vanished after leaving for Christmas Break, and never returned. This left the charter Board members with a major dilemma. However, led by Baudelio (Bobby) Ramirez, the Board was able to recruit a new Executive Director and move forward. Bobby remained active on the Board of Directors until his death in 2006.
I don’t like to say this, but when we first started, we had very little to offer, but then we found Joe H. Madrid. Joe was hired to be our new Executive Director in April 1979 and was expected to arrive on May 1, 1979. We eagerly prepared for his arrival but he never showed up that day. We didn’t have cell phones back then, so we decided he had also vanished. Imagine our surprise when he actually came in the next day. The joke was on us! He came in like a Tasmanian Devil and cleared the deck of all driftwood. If I am still here, it’s because I was “damn good”. My t-shirt said so the day he arrived.
Before joining us, Joe spent ten years in the Midwest learning about new services for people with a variety of special needs. He brought that experience and knowledge to Tobosa to establish the future vision and the foundation of the corporation. The staff all bought into his vision, hit the road running, and haven’t stopped.
For thirty-seven years, Joe was our fearless leader. When he retired in 2015, I was selected to take the helm and lead the corporation’s operations into the future. Through those years and continuing today, I have seen many volunteer Board members and staff members who have left the corporation but their thoughts and actions continue to influence Tobosa’s direction. Many of our current staff members have made a tremendous difference, by working with us for a significant number of years. We rely on our experienced staff to be the core leaders of our services and community.
A Success Story
Let’s return to my favorite topic: the progress and successes experienced by the individuals of all ages that we support. One of my favorite stories is about Domingo Romero. I met Domingo at the Special Olympics in Albuquerque many years ago. He saw the Tobosa group and came over and introduced himself. He wanted to know more about us. We visited with Domingo and shared some information about our programming with him. Shortly thereafter, Joe Madrid received a call from someone saying “Joe, come pick me up.” It was Domingo! Joe asked him for additional information: where he was, what was going on in his life, why he wanted to come to Tobosa. He just stated, “ ‘Cause I liked what I saw in Albuquerque at the Special Olympics.”
After that call, we began the process to bring Domingo to Tobosa. From the time we picked him up in Las Vegas, NM from his aunt’s house, I have watched “Mingo” go through the various phases of life. From him living independently in his younger years, to today, in his golden years, needing 24/7 staff support.
One of my favorite memories of Mingo was when he worked hard and earned the very first “Bob Thomas Award” for making the biggest strides toward independence. It was a really big deal.
We went to Santa Fe to a fancy dinner where the award was presented. Mingo dressed up in his finest clothes and looked very handsome. He knew about the award so he dressed as best as he could. He was so very proud that he had the biggest smile on his face. That smile lit him up for days and still lights him up now.
He still comes in to see me and proudly reminds me about the time we went to pick up his award. I am so happy that I was able to share that special moment with him. It still brings tears to my eyes.
Today, I find Mingo has grown much older (like me) and is showing the signs of old age. Even so, he still proudly holds his head up and copes with the challenges that old age has presented him. I admire his continuing strength of character when I see him in pain, but still saying “hello” as best he can. We all love that man.
I come to the end of this blog post with hope that I have given you more perspective on Tobosa. What we experience day to day is very special. I also hope I’ve given you insight into the kinds of relationships that we build with the individuals we support. I invite you to join us at our 40th Anniversary Gala where we will celebrate Tobosa, the individuals, the staff, and the successes we have been fortunate enough to be a part of in the past forty years. We’re also excited for you to join us in looking forward to what we will do in the future, together.
Rosy Rubio, CEO