Meet Tamiko – an invaluable member of our CFS family who has dedicated over three decades of her life to supporting people.
Born and brought up in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Tamiko went to Kean College then began her career in 1994 at the Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital, where she worked for four years. She went on from there to work with the Volunteers of America at Palms River, NJ, kicking off her journey in the nonprofit sector. Her commitment to helping others led her to New York City, where she worked to help people experiencing homelessness.
In 2006, Tamiko discovered her next calling – and now her professional home – when she applied to work at CFS. Initially her interest was in joining CFS’ Supportive Work Department, but instead Tamiko decided to immerse herself in the CFS participant community, conducting workshops and activities everywhere and anywhere possible in NYC. “I love being out in the community and being involved in the different workshops and activities around the city,” says Tamiko excitedly.
Tamiko’s life experiences instilled a deep sense of compassion and kindness in her. “My upbringing has been one of compassion and kindness. I was always being taught that we should serve each other,” adds Tamiko. She grew up helping her grandparents in their old age, adding that that’s where her passion for supporting others found its calling.
CFS has evolved over the years, and so has Tamiko’s role at CFS! Tamiko has gone full circle and now works in CFS’ Supportive Work Department as a Job Coach and Mentor for CFS participants, combining 17 years of Direct Support Professional (DSP) experience with her new responsibilities.
“There are many differences between being a DSP and the Supportive Work Department. One of those lies in travel training—most participants in the Supportive Work Department are travel-trained, while DSPs often assist participants who are not.”
Tamiko counsels and assists CFS’ participants with finding new job opportunities, forging connections with their direct supervisors, and gathering feedback to work on issues they face at their jobs or to enhance their performance. Participants under her guidance have found employment in fields that range from retail to the arts, including Banana Republic, insurance companies, and Carnegie Hall!
Tamiko also helps organize CFS’ World Go-Getters Workshop every Wednesday to help participants in their job searches. She conducts mock interviews, shares information about job fairs, and works with participants on their resumes and cover letters.
What sets Tamiko apart is her creativity. During the pandemic, she introduced CFS’ successful Laughing Meditation Workshop that made such a difference in people’s lives at the time, and was a greatly popular initiative. “Laughter is a very powerful tool. The pandemic was not a happy time, and it was something I thought could bring a lot of positivity to everyone involved,” she says.
Tamiko remains committed to learning and growing despite her years of experience. She constantly takes workshops and strives tirelessly for self-improvement.
Her advice to DSPs is equally inspiring:
“Think creatively, bring forward your ideas, and create your own platform. Turn setbacks into lessons, embrace words of encouragement, and find your identity. “Be a great listener – listen with a full ear. Not half an ear.” And: “First you learn it, then you build it, then you earn it.” Tamiko also emphasizes the importance of not giving up, saying: “We all experience setbacks – so turn your losses into a lesson.”
Tamiko’s story is one of perseverance, creativity, and profound dedication to making a difference in the lives of the individuals she works with. She is an example of what’s possible when one’s identity is intertwined with their work.
Everyone at CFS is so proud of Tamiko! We also congratulate her on her recent Innovative Leader Award that recognizes her creativity and mentorship.
We look forward to seeing her continue to inspire and innovate in the years to come.
Thank you, Tamiko!