Our Stories

Our Stories2023-06-02T14:51:59-04:00

More than anything else, Main Street is a community of people with powerful stories to tell. Learn about the story of Jillian and Scott Copeland and of other families who have joined the Main Street movement. To meet the Main Street staff, visit our team page.

The Copeland Family’s Story

September 22nd, 2021|Categories: Our Stories|

Main Street is the vision of Jillian and Scott Copeland whose son, Nicolas, has developmental disabilities. Nicolas, now 21, began having seizures at the age of 8 months. While his seizures are currently controlled, Nicolas’ neurological diagnosis creates global challenges as a young adult. After successfully founding the highly-regarded Diener School 10 years ago to fill the unmet need for children with social and educational challenges, Jillian turned her attention [...]

Main Street’s Artist-in-Residence Finds Healing Through Creativity

December 12th, 2023|Categories: Our Stories|

When artist-in-residence Denise Feldman was deciding what to hang on the walls at Main Street, she kept coming back to one theme, something that played an important role in her own life: Hope. A Rockville native and breast cancer survivor who recently became a grandmother, Feldman considers herself a mixed-media artist. She paints but she isn’t a painter. She enjoys stitching, but she isn't a quilter. “It gives me the [...]

Training Days: How Fitness Instructor Zaid Alfa Finds Inspiration at Main Street

September 8th, 2023|Categories: Our Stories|

The young man in the wheelchair couldn’t speak. His body was nearly still, though he could wiggle two of his fingers. But what struck Zaid Alfa the most, the thing that’s always stayed with him, was the emotion in the man’s eyes. “It’s like he was just looking into your soul,” Zaid says.  It was 2019, and the young man’s mother had brought him to Spirit Club in Kensington for [...]

Belonging 2023: The Artists Behind the Exhibit

August 17th, 2023|Categories: Our Stories|

When David Godoy was working on "Night Owls," his painting for Belonging 2023, he imagined the two birds talking to him, like they were all friends. He's always been intrigued by owls, especially the sounds they make, and before he started painting he spent time learning about them. "They are not strangers to me," says David, a front desk associate at Main Street. "Everything I do, musically and artistically, there's [...]

Bound for Berlin: A Journey to the World Games

June 2nd, 2023|Categories: Our Stories|

A few weeks before the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, Ashley Thompson is busy with kayaking practices at Black Hill Regional Park, 6 am workouts in the gym, and her part-time job at Wegmans. Still, she’s finding time to learn a few new words before her big trip. “Alexa,” she’ll say. “How do I say 'good morning’ in German?” The 36-year-old Main Street resident won three gold medals at [...]

Mikey’s Story: “I’m Finally Here”

May 4th, 2023|Categories: Our Stories|

Mikey Johnson walked through the doors of Poppy Boy’s Kitchen last Friday night to the sound of people he’d never met cheering for him and chanting his name. He smiled, waved one hand in the air and looked around. There was a lot to take in—he’d been waiting for this moment for a long time. “After two and a half years on Zoom, I’m finally here,” he said. “I’m finally [...]

Music City Workout: Keeping Up with Spirited Sam

March 10th, 2023|Categories: Our Stories|

It started with a pizza. Main Street resident Sam Smith had ordered a delivery from Domino’s, and when he went downstairs to meet the driver he ran into some staff members in the lobby. They’d heard he was a fitness instructor, and after a year of virtual programming at Main Street they were starting to offer in-person activities. “There were five people sitting in the room saying, ‘What are your [...]

The Making of a Friendship

February 6th, 2023|Categories: Our Stories|

Their handshake has four different moves. It isn’t complicated or jazzy, but it’s theirs. They kept it simple on purpose so it would be easier to remember. “It’s something that signifies our friendship,” Grianny says. “That’s very important,” Tristan adds. “It’s good to have a special handshake.” Neither one of them was expecting to become friends, they say—they weren’t paired up or anything. Tristan (pictured in purple) was working his [...]

A Wedding Story: Showing Love for Main Street

January 5th, 2023|Categories: Our Stories|

Carly Larkin and Justin Cooper were admiring the artwork at VisAbility Art Lab in Rockville last year when they came across a painting of a mermaid that caught their attention. They had no idea they knew the artist—until she happened to walk up to them. “Total small world,” Carly says. “My sister went to Ivymount with Faith, so I’ve known Faith ever since she was little.” Faith McLuckie, a Main [...]

Isabel’s Story

November 3rd, 2022|Categories: Our Stories|

For Main Street staff member Isabel Garcia, one of the hardest things about having an invisible disability is feeling like she always has to explain herself. Her pain doesn’t show—and sometimes the symptoms come out of nowhere, like six months ago when she was driving on I-270 and suddenly felt so dizzy and nauseous that she thought she was going to crash her car. At a concert this summer, Isabel [...]

Kaity’s Story

September 21st, 2021|Categories: Our Stories|

Kaitlin Taylor is a member of Main Street Connect along with her mother, Courtney and brother, Khary. Kaity regularly participates in Main Street programs but she also leads an art class that meets several times each month called "Let's Get Crafty". Kaity's class is incredibly popular among Main Street members, filling up quickly each time a new date is posted. Recently, Kaity worked [...]

Joanna’s Story

March 30th, 2021|Categories: Our Stories|

Joanna Yen, a resident and member of Main Street, shares how Main Street has empowered her to engage with the community and helped her become even more independent. "Before Main Street Apartments opened I was living in a Housing Opportunity Commission (HOC) apartment unit that wasn’t suitable for my physical disability and very expensive. I researched and saw a news article that an affordable housing project was developing in Rockville. [...]

Sabria’s Story

October 15th, 2020|Categories: Our Stories|

We are thrilled to have Sabria Still among our new residents at Main Street! Sabria currently works for Montgomery County Councilman-At-Large, Will Jawando, as his scheduler. Here's a peek into who this young woman is, what her goals are and what Main Street means to her. Sabria was born at Shady Grove Hospital and raised here in Rockville. She has two younger step brothers. Sabria has taken classes at both Montgomery [...]

Molly’s Story

October 2nd, 2020|Categories: Our Stories|

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 [...]

Cynthia’s Story

April 1st, 2020|Categories: Our Stories|

Cynthia Zapata wears many hats – she is a Program Specialist at Montgomery County’s Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC), the mother of three and a committed sibling to her brother, Tony, who has a developmental disability. Tony and parents, Rolando and Asunta, live with Cynthia, her husband, Marc, and her youngest daughter, Angelina. The Zapata family moved to the U.S. from Bolivia when Cynthia was a young child and now reside in Silver [...]

Dara’s Story

January 1st, 2020|Categories: Our Stories|

When I think of idealism brought to life with love, joy, creativity, commitment, purpose and unity, I think of Main Street! My connection to Main Street is through my lifelong friendship and sisterhood with Main Street's Founder, Jillian Copeland. I have known and loved her since she was 5 days old! Her big sister, Stacey, was my lifelong best friend. I also had the honor of working with Jillian when [...]

Leroy’s Story

November 1st, 2019|Categories: Our Stories|

My name is Leroy Price and I have been a licensed electrician for over 25 years. Presently I work with Hawkins Electric Service, Inc. I am working on the Main Street building as a licensed electrician. In this role, I have the opportunity to work with a team of dedicated co-workers committed to producing a quality and safe product. I have a good working relationship with all my fellow team [...]

Karen’s Story

October 1st, 2019|Categories: Our Stories|

Every time I pick up my bright orange Main Street Connect tote bag, I am reminded of all that bag represents – for our family and especially for our Montgomery County community. My daughter, Nadia, has been my partner in advocacy all her life. She has testified before the Montgomery County Council, presented at Parent Academies and conferences and been an ever-ready source of information at our annual Transitioning Youth [...]

Lisa and Jessica’s Story

July 1st, 2019|Categories: Our Stories|

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 [...]

Ben’s Story

June 1st, 2019|Categories: Our Stories|

When asked to describe his future, Ben will tell you this: “When I am an adult, I am going to live on Main Street. I will have three dogs - Noah, Joey and Leo. I will live with a friend. In the morning I will go to Rockville Town Center to get coffee. I will take the metro to my job at the GAP. I will have lots of friends. [...]

Katie’s Story

May 1st, 2019|Categories: Our Stories|

When I learned about Main Street, I joined not once, but twice. And it was not a mistake! I wanted a family membership and also a professional membership. As a parent of a thirteen-year-old with autism, I was already involved with many organizations for families like ours, and it was at one of these organizations where I first heard Jillian Copeland speak about Main Street. Even though my son Ben [...]

Justin’s Story

April 1st, 2019|Categories: Our Stories|

Hi. My name is Justin Salzberg and I am 20 years old. I have an older brother, Noah, and a younger sister, Ally. I am a member of Main Street and graduating Ivymount and Thomas Edison School of Technology in late May/June of this year. Recently I took a train to Charlottesville, VA, all by myself for the first time to see my brother at college and had an awesome [...]

Nick’s Story

March 1st, 2019|Categories: Our Stories|

Nicholas has always been a cheerful guy with a great sense of humor. Even as a toddler with no language, he made people smile with his big eyes and floppy brown curls. Getting Nick properly diagnosed, effectively treated and appropriately educated was a challenge. It took nine months for a neurologist to diagnose his seizure disorder at age two. And, he wasn’t officially diagnosed with autism until age eight. In [...]

Jeni’s Story

February 1st, 2019|Categories: Our Stories|

My son, Mattie, was born with a rare neuromuscular disease. As a result of this condition, he often spent many months at a time in the hospital. This is not a typical (or ideal) setting for any person – especially children and young adults who are learning about life and the world, and who are in need of peers and community. Mattie was lucky though. In addition to having his [...]

The Eure Family’s Story

January 1st, 2019|Categories: Our Stories|

Stephen, our friendly 25-year-old son, first received services from Montgomery County Infant and Toddlers and the Preschool Education Program. Later, he spent many years in early intervention at home learning within an Applied Behavior Analysis program. Stephen has overcome many challenges including significant language delays so he now often speaks in full sentences. Upon graduating from Walter Johnson High School, Stephen attended the Community Careers and Connections program targeting travel [...]

Noah’s Story

October 1st, 2018|Categories: Our Stories|

My name is Noah Miller. I graduated from the Katherine Thomas High School in June and I am currently a freshman in the Mason LIFE Program at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. I love college so far. I live on campus in a suite with three roommates and a residential advisor. I am learning how to live independently. I am responsible for cooking dinner for myself and my roommates [...]

Kelley’s Story

September 1st, 2018|Categories: Our Stories|

When I learned about Main Street, I breathed a sigh of relief. You see, I am a mother of two active, young boys, ages 4 and 6, and my eldest is a differently wired kid. When he was 18 months old, he wasn't babbling and starting to talk like the other babies we knew. After many doctor appointments and evaluations, we learned that he might not be on the typical [...]

Marjorie’s Story

August 1st, 2018|Categories: Our Stories|

When I first heard about Main Street, I felt incredibly touched by everything it stands for. I have been involved in the special needs community in many capacities over the years – first and foremost, as a mom. Like so many others I navigated the world of early intervention, followed by chasing one symptom after the next, yet trying to balance promoting change with acceptance. During those early years, I [...]

Nmandi’s Story

July 1st, 2018|Categories: Our Stories|

Nmandi, our amazing 20-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when she was 3 years old. She spent so many years doing ABA at home as well as being in preschool full-time. She was the hardest working child we had ever known! Her hard work paid off as she went from almost zero receptive and expressive language to someone that can hold a conversation and engage verbally with others. Nmandi is currently in the [...]

The Bogasky Family’s Story

June 1st, 2018|Categories: Our Stories|

Our life with John has been the journey of a lifetime. We first learned he would need extra help when he was just a few months old. While we saw all the doctors then and now, John has never had a diagnosis. He doesn't have a known condition - he just has symptoms. Without a diagnosis, there has never been a prognosis. So, all the doctors could tell us was, [...]

David’s Story

April 1st, 2018|Categories: Our Stories|

My name is David Godoy and I was born with cerebral palsy in Ecuador in South America. I came to the United States for better education and better opportunities with my mom and sisters in 1995, and my father joined us later in 1998. Living with cerebral palsy is not easy but not impossible. I overcome many obstacles and barriers in order for my goals and dreams to come true. I [...]

Yelena’s Story

March 1st, 2018|Categories: Our Stories|

My name is Yelena Simpson. I graduated from the Katherine Thomas School with a high school diploma and attended Montgomery College for two years, graduating with a certificate. I have had several different jobs and internships. I work part time at a wonderful Italian restaurant as a busser/server and have been for the past five years. In my job, I work hard and like the customers and my co-workers. I [...]

Adam’s Story

February 1st, 2018|Categories: Our Stories|

I was born on July 17, 1988. I’m on the autism spectrum. When I was growing up I went to 6 special needs schools. During high school, I had an internship doing office work, like answering phones, filing papers, entering data in Excel, etc. In 2008, another student and I were the first graduates from the Katherine Thomas School high school in Rockville. For 5 years I attended Montgomery College [...]

Nancy’s Story

January 1st, 2018|Categories: Our Stories|

I have both a personal and a professional interest in Main Street. I am the proud mother of Adrian, a 28 year old with Down syndrome who expects to live an adult life that compares to that of his brother, Gabriel. Adrian is doing pretty well in that regard: he has gone to college (George Mason University’s LIFE program), works (at NDSS), independently uses public transportation and is very active [...]

The Edwards Family’s Story

December 1st, 2017|Categories: Our Stories|

We are so happy to have found Main Street as it will fill a big gap in what we can currently provide for our son Eric, 25, who is on the Autism Spectrum. We are a three-generation household. Eric’s grandfather, now 101 years old, moved into our home in Takoma Park in 2011 and our schedules revolve around his needs. Eric now shares an apartment near Rockville Town Center and [...]

Jess’ Story

October 1st, 2017|Categories: Our Stories|

The eldest of our four children, Jess, is 28 years old. She works two jobs (in a nursery school and an assisted living facility) and participates in Special Olympics, Best Buddies, and ArtStream. Jess is hardworking, creative, funny, stubborn as heck, and at the center of many of our family decisions. Also, Jess has Down syndrome. Jess spent her early years in Montgomery County Public Schools, where she was fully [...]

Spencer’s Story

September 1st, 2017|Categories: Our Stories|

Living independently, with whatever supports are needed, is the vision of Spencer Jacobs who has developmental disabilities. Spencer, now 26, began having difficulty at age 15 months with language declines among other developmental challenges. This snowballed into multiple special ed programs as well as numerous doctors, speech therapists, OTs, PTs, tutors, and home helpers, just to name a few. Spencer calls this part of his life Chapter 1. Spencer's hard work has paid off. He is [...]

Corey’s Story

August 1st, 2017|Categories: Our Stories|

Once upon a time, there was a family of a mother, father, sister and brother.  Pretty normal stuff right?  Well, it might have been— but we learned early on that our son, Corey, had many developmental challenges. From his first diagnosis we knew life would be anything but normal. For us, normal meant speech therapists, OT, PT, tutors, not being invited to birthday parties, psych evaluations, IEPs, lots of meetings with public school teachers and administrators. Over the [...]

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