by: Dan Pittman
Published: December 13, 2022

Todd Eckert, left, and Paula Tomei of South Coast Repertory stand before the stage with Project Independence clients and staff wearing red holiday scarves at a South Coast Repertory’s of “A Christmas Carol” in Costa Mesa

COSTA MESA…Clients and supporters of nonprofit Project Independence that has more than four decades of service and stability in Orange County as a lifeline to adults with developmental disabilities, recently attended a performance of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa.

The reaction of the playgoers who are clients of the nonprofit was universally positive. Craig Thompson of Huntington Beach summed it up this way: “Boy! That really started my Christmas!” 

Jewel Dukes of Costa Mesa said, “I know some friends who could use some visits from those Christmas ghosts.”  Ruth Ann Hogue of Costa Mesa hopes Project Independence will make a visit to the theater an annual  affair.

The supporters agreed. “Thank you for sharing the experience with us, your staff and wonderful clients from Project Independence,” said Basil and Judi Witt of Newport Beach. Elaine O’Connor of Irvine said, “It made my season to share this holiday tradition with the wonderful people Project Independence serves!” 

“It was a joy for us to welcome staff, clients and supporters from Project Independence to A Christmas Carol,” said South Coast Repertory ‘s Managing Director Paula Tomei. 

“Their enthusiasm and excitement about being at South Coast Repertory and seeing the show  — including being decked out in red scarves for the evening – warmed our hearts and boosted our spirits,” she shared. “We are grateful to Todd Eckert and his team for making it possible for them to join us and hope they come back next year.”

“We are delighted to share community experiences like this one with our wonderful clients and  staff and thank our loyal supporters for their many contributions to all we serve,” said Project Independence CEO Robert Watson.

Project Independence is looking for prospective employees who want a job where they can make a difference working in a friendly and stable work environment.  Visit

Eighty-seven cents of every dollar raised by Project Independence goes directly to support vital programs for people with developmental disabilities. 

Photo:Kristen Smith