My connection to Main Street is that I always answer YES when Jillian Copeland calls! As a longtime special education and disability parent advocate in the DC area, I find myself being connected a lot to professionals, therapists and families, and truly when I heard Jillian was pulling together volunteers and families around the idea of Main Street a few years ago – I was wholeheartedly IN! Navigating parenthood when you have a child with a developmental disability is daunting and I realized early on that I would constantly be knocking on doors, pushing through barriers and advocating, advocating, advocating. But, in the last two decades of this journey, Main Street was the first time that I personally connected with other parents in a very honest, funny and FUN way. But it wasn’t just for me – it was for my kids too – they have had a blast with Main Street in their innovative activities and events.
Bobby, 20, an Ivymount School graduate as of June, and Katie, 18, a student at the Katherine Thomas High School, are the most amazing young adults. Bobby is creative, kind, sweet, thoughtful and so comfortable in his own skin; Katie is sassy, assertive, creative, determined and so full of vigor. Main Street really gives them a wide variety of ways to be connected, be appreciated and be part of something. There is no judgement with Main Street – and Main Streeters are everywhere – it IS a community. My husband, Danny, and I have enjoyed everything our family does with Main Street.
Personally, I’ve watched my erstwhile “career” take a turn from nonprofit management and development and communications to the realm of special education and disability advocacy. I’ve served as the Director of Development and Communications at the wonderful Ivymount School and ED of the DC Association for Special Education. New this spring, I’m so proud to be the new State Director for Best Buddies Capital Region: Virginia & DC. My passion has long been supporting the movement for inclusion, so I’m right where I want to be! Best Buddies Capital Region serves over 4,000 individuals in DC and Virginia through one-to-one friendships, supported employment, inclusive living and leadership development for individuals with ID/DD. I know that many of us, as parents and community members, worry about the “cliff” and how people with disabilities who don’t have meaningful work and friendships will be able to build productive, independent and happy lives. I’m so excited to be leading Best Buddies-Capital Region, because they, like our Main Street partners, CHANGE this trajectory for countless friends and families in our community. I love being a Main Streeter as a mom, and I cherish the collaborative partnerships my team at Best Buddies will be creating with the Main Street team. (Have questions about Best Buddies – tag me at: firstname.lastname@example.org)