Since 1977, Project Independence has helped people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) expand their horizons. The organization currently supports 600+ people in
Project Independence’s focus is to help people with I/DD reach their dreams of living on their own, and having meaningful work and friendships. “These are dreams we all have,” said Debra Marsteller, president and CEO.
Debra is an advocate, trainer, mentor, and supporter of people with developmental disabilities
and has worked with the organization for over thirty years. She grew up in Orange County and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a teaching credential in Special Education and has a Masters in Education from San Diego State University.
In 2007, after 26 years of leading Vantage Foundation, Debra led the merger with Project Independence. She said, “This merger combined the Positive Behavioral Support expertise of
Vantage with the Independent Living and Supported Employment capacities of Project Independence.”
The organization provides support for people “in day” programs, independent living and supported employment. They also partner with Social Security for WIPA (Work Incentive Planning Assistance).
Debra’s favorite part of her job is working with the staff and clients and being inspired by the people they support. She said, “I’ve been here for 30+ years and the wonderful stories unfold, both
from our staff and the wonderful people we serve. Given the hurdles they overcome and the humor and diligence they go about in their daily lives keeps me grounded and focused.”
She added, “One of my favorite stories is the afternoon I answered the phone and could not hear the caller because all of our staff had burst into song after a long day. Unscripted and not very harmonious, but indicative of the sense of fun and humor they bring to their jobs.” Project Independence would like to extend a special thank you to our community: “Thank you to the many neighbors who generously donated gift cards, socks, scarves, toiletries and kitchen supplies during Christmas.
We asked for help when COVID-19 prevented shopping and gift exchanges. The smiles and
excitement from everyone was awesome when they received their gifts.” Deborah added, “We could not fulfill our mission of helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities reach their dreams without the ongoing generous support from our community members.”
For more information on how you can help,
please visit, www.proindependence.org.