For Copelands, yearslong project inspired by their son

BETHESDA MAGAZINE (7/31/2020) – The founders of an affordable residential building in Rockville that seeks to include people with disabilities celebrated the complex’s opening in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.

Jillian and Scott Copeland of Main Street were ecstatic as they stood in front of their new apartment complex, which opens on Aug. 3. It is at 50 Monroe Place, near the Rockville Metro station.

The celebration marked the end of a yearslong project inspired by the challenges of finding a place to live for their 21-year-old son Nicol, who has a form of epilepsy.

The celebration was streamed live over Zoom from in front of the building, with a mix of live speeches and cuts to prerecorded messages of support.

A small number of people attended in person. Almost 1,500 people registered to watch the live stream, a Main Street representative said.

Scott Copeland read out loud a letter sent from former vice president and presidential candidate Joe Biden, and Main Street aired a video sent in by Gov. Larry Hogan.

The Main Street complex at 50 Monroe Place will officially open for tenants on Aug. 3.

It features 70 affordable one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. About three quarters of those will be open to the public at a reduced price for households making less than the median income in the area. The other 17 apartments are reserved for people with disabilities.

The apartment building will host a membership-based 10,000-square-foot community center. Tenants will automatically be included in Main Street Connect, as the program is called, at no additional cost.

There is a fitness center, a “teaching kitchen” with a lowered countertop more easily used by people with wheelchairs, a classroom, a multimedia room and more.

The goal of both components of the Main Street project — the apartments and the community center — is to create a a gathering place for people of differing abilities. People with disabilities can bring whatever support they need with them to the building to help them live independently, such as staff or family, Chief Strategy Officer Sharon Cichy said.

“We believe that people without disabilities have as much to gain from being a part of an inclusive community as do those with disabilities,” Main Street’s website says.

During the pandemic, the center livestreamed classes for people of all abilities, open to anyone.

The apartments themselves were designed from the ground up, Cichy said. Apartments have features like moveable countertops for ease of access.

Each member of the Copeland family spoke emotionally about what the project meant to them. Nicol Copeland, readying a pair of giant silver scissors, went last.

“Where are you going to live?” Jillian Copeland said.

“Here!” Nicol Copeland said.


This article was written by Matt McDonald and originally posted on on 7/31/2020.