If you had to pick one word to describe Jami Hamel De La Cerda, it would have to be “passionate.” She’s passionate about her work. She’s the founder of the Diamond Learning Center in Clovis serving adults over 18 with intellectual disabilities, and she’s passionate about her life. She is a single mother of three sons, “The three Kings” as she calls them, including 16-year-old Elijah who has down syndrome.
Bridgette Franco works at the center and she says Jami’s passion, dedication and drive are what makes her remarkable.
“She makes a statement when she enters a room. Who she is and what she does, and what she brings to the table all the time,” says Franco. “We always have to remind her to think of herself. She always has this selfless thought in her head, ‘How can I help someone else? What do they need?’.”
Jami overcame personal hardships growing up. She graduated from Fresno State and got her master’s degree in special education. She was teaching in the public school system when she realized the need for services for adults who have aged out of other programs.
Jami says the “diamond” in the center’s name refers to the people it serves, but the center itself is a diamond. Established in 2005, it provides education and job skills for 160 adults. A curriculum that is life-changing for students and the staff who work here. “I believe in the underdog and helping someone be all that they can be. and sometimes they don’t even realize the potential they have inside them. But we can sort of figure out what that is and present it and see if it’s something they choose to do,” Jami says.
COVID closed this center for seventeen months, but Jami made sure it transitioned online and continued paying the staff. Now reopened for in-person learning, it’s busy once again, and at the center of it all, is its dedicated founder who also happens to be a mother of a child with special needs.
“Anything that we choose to do here, when our team looks at it. My final word is, ‘Would I have my son do that?’ and if it’s no, then we don’t do it,” she says.
Her passion for work and her passion for life are what make Jami Hamel De La Cerda “Remarkable.”