While I enjoy many different roles, the one I am most proud of is being a special needs parent and coach. I am Lisa Benjamin Lipsher and I feel very lucky to have a family that includes my husband Bob, our two daughters Jessica and Catherine and (of course) our Portuguese Water Dog Bentley.

A few years ago, Jessica and I were asked to share our thoughts on growing up with a disability during a Sabbath service celebrating Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month. In preparing for our talk, we discovered that the concept of inclusion and the importance of treating people with respect and kindness, regardless of their differences, dates back thousands of years. Fortunately, Jessica is the recipient of this kindness every day. Born with cerebral palsy and now 28 years old, Jess uses a walker to get around. While that can present challenges, she is not shy about asking for help when she needs it whether from a co-worker, an Uber driver or a total stranger. She is met with smiles that match her own, and her interest in connecting with people makes people want to connect with her.

That’s what Main Street provides – the opportunity for Jess to meet other young adults with a variety of differences who accept her exactly as she is. Jess is working hard to become more independent in her work life, her social activities and her living arrangements. We feel so fortunate to have Main Street as a resource to support her growth and confidence as she travels this path towards greater independence.