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Core Programs

What Makes Us Unique

Project Independence was founded on the belief that people with disabilities possess the potential to live and interact in their communities, and that by listening to the hopes and dreams of people we serve, we can help them realize those dreams.

Independent Living

Our Independent Living program has assisted hundreds of people who have taken those bold steps to move out of group homes, family households, and other facilities, into homes – and lives – of their own.

Each step of this journey is taken with the support of Project Independence staff, from deciding where to live and picking a roommate, to providing whatever tools are needed to take those successful steps toward independence.

From benefits and budgeting, to planning menus, grocery shopping, and helping prepare meals, to prioritizing housekeeping and laundry tasks, at each step Project Independence staff listen to the needs of the people we serve.

People we support choose the services they want and need. Project Independence staff help to ensure that peoples’ needs are met while always encouraging and fostering independence and choice.

Brad’s Story

Brad has been living independently since 1990 with the support of Project Independence. Brad is unable to read or spell, but enjoys participating in his Money Management sessions, including writing his own checks for most bills, grocery money, and pocket money. Project Independence helped Brad create a ‘cheat sheet”  which provides Brad the tools he needs in order to write his own weekly and monthly checks, including his rent check, creating a personal sense of responsibility and independence.

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Supported Employment

The Project Independence Supported Employment program is based on the idea that, in creating a successful job match, a person with a developmental disability can do the job he or she was hired to do. Our job is to provide whatever the person needs to be successful, from extra training, establishing priorities and creating task schedules, to educating employees at the job site and building natural supports. This program serves 190 people as they work at real jobs for real pay. Currently, 40 clients are waiting for placements. Clients work for employers such as The City of Irvine, Albertsons, Ralph’s, Rite Aid, Sav-On and Target. This program develops jobs and then matches up the skills of clients to the needs of the employers. From orientation and skills training, commute scheduling, detailed job duties and supervisor contact; we aim for stability in the employer / employee relationship.

Jeff’s Story

For well over ten years Jeff has made sure that the mail finds its way throughout the large headquarters building for Hyundai USA. This was no easy task.  A few years ago, Jeff needed to pack his bags along with all of the employees and move to the 500,000 square foot building that now houses their headquarters. He rose to the occasion with his supportive teammates and kept the mailroom humming and efficient. His colleagues admit that his diligence and work ethic made sure that the transition was a smooth one. Jeff epitomizes what can be done with you have partners like Project Independence and an inclusive, compassionate corporate team.

Extra Mile Award 2017

Extra Mile Award 2017

Tom Peale, Trader Joe's employee and Project Independence client, gave this congratulatory  speech at our 2017 Walk for Independence on September 8th 2017 as Trader Joe's was presented the Extra Mile Award for going above and beyond to support Project Independence and our programs: Good morning everyone! What a great morning it has been! My name is Tom Peale, and it is my pleasure to be here today to congratulate Trader Joe’s on receiving the Extra Mile Award from Project Independence. I have worked at Trader Joe’s for over 18 years, and I have been a client of Project Independence also for 18 years.Read More

Benefits of Employment: Just the Facts

Benefits of Employment: Just the Facts

Presentation Topics: Benefits of Getting a Job New Federal Regulations Impacting Employment Barriers & Misconceptions About Going to Work Resources Work Incentives Planning Assistance (WIPA) ABLE Act  Tuesday March 7, 2017 6:00pm  7:30pm Regional Center of Orange County, 1525 N Tustin Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92705 Cost: FREE Please RSVP, Space is limited To RSVP please contact the following: Darlene at Integrated Resources Institute (949) 232-1172 OR Darlene@irioc.org   Light Refreshments will be served.  Please note we are unable to provide childcare.                                                     This Workshop is sponsored by Integrated Resources Institute and Project Independence through joint grant from the State Council on Developmental Disabilities Read More

Day Program

This program offers integrated work, volunteer and paid, recreation and community access. 210 people develop life skills, participate in community life, and engage in proactive and satisfying activities. The range of activities is as varied as the people themselves, and may include recreational activities, supported work, or continuing education courses.The program is designed to serve individuals in the communities in which they live. Integrated employment is a main focus of the Adult Development Program (ADP) with opportunities for placement in a variety of jobs including clerical, food services, janitorial, and medical services. Volunteer work is also done at local YMCA, libraries, as well as other non-profit agencies. Individuals may take classes at their community college and/or enroll in adult education classes. For example, we coordinate with our local Meals on Wheels to provide food packing and delivery for shut-ins throughout Orange County. Our staff have the training and expertise to provide Positive Behavioral Support for people with complex lives. Twelve vans facilitate these services.

Jonnie’s Story

Jonnie struggled to make sense of life after passing through the government-supported age of 18. His loving sister and conservator stepped up on his behalf. Together they realized that life in the small town of Big Bear and then five years in the Inland Empire, a better quality of life was to be more easily accessible by making a move into the Regional Center of Orange County with the help and resources provided by Project Independence. The move was well-warranted as Jonnie flourished with his new friends at Project Independence and the love of his sister and her new husband.  With the compassionate support from his family and his extended family at PI, Jonnie has built a life of independence, achievement and friendship.

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Harmony Senior Program

Project Independence’s Harmony Program serves seniors (50 years and older) with developmental disabilities. Individuals may participate between one to five days per week depending on their needs. Project Independence offers this flexibility because many seniors want to participate in a program but desire limiting the number of days they participate.

One of the main goals is to integrate individuals into senior centers in their communities. Individuals can choose from a variety of activities offered at the senior centers as well as Harmony Program events. Activities and events include bingo, bowling, exercise classes, live music and dancing, movies, shopping excursions and story telling. We encourage the development of friendships to help seniors build a reliable support system. Individuals are supported in a 1:4 ratio.

Liz’s Story

Liz Wilson is an extraordinary example of how it’s never too late in life to turn your life around. At 80 years old, she still lives independently. She comes to program every day and attends our Harmony program, for Seniors. She particularly enjoys Tuesdays and Thursdays, when she sings with the band at the Anaheim Senior Center. Liz always lets you know how much she loves her Program Specialist, Karen Moeller, who she has been with for 14 years.

Anaheim Community Dance

Anaheim Community Dance

Our Harmony Program serves our senior clients including Music & Dance at the Brookhurst Community Center. Members from multiple Day Programs at Project Independence participate and have fun kicking up their heals with other community seniors every Thursday. Through fun, camaraderie, music and a bit of soft-shoe we help to build a stronger more inclusive community.  Read More


Work Incentive Planning and Assistance is a grant awarded by The Social Security Administration to local organizations to provide work incentive planning services for beneficiaries in cash payment status for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Social Security Childhood Disability Benefits (SSCDB), previously called Disabled Adult Child (SSDAC). Anyone who is currently receiving cash payments under one or more of the following programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Social Security Childhood Disability Benefits (SSCDB) – also known as Social Security Disabled Adult Child (SSDAC) AND is either: Working, Looking for work, or Thinking about looking for work. All services are free of charge! There is never a cost for any of the services provided by Project Independence under the WIPA project.

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