The Penelope Impact – the impact of one child on a community (Documentary film)

When a parent has child with a disability, the roadmap is not always clear.  Parents rely on building networks of people who have been there before, schools systems and current policies, etc…  Where and how any child is educated is an experiment at best – when it comes to students with disabilities, the world gets much more complex with IEP’s (individualized education program) along with this are often lawyers, and teams of professionals trying to guide the “proper”education for these kids.  Often, the menu offered to the family/parents is limited.

Here is a story about Penelope Lassman who started out at age 3 in a segregated school for kids with significant disabilities in Evanston, Illinois.  Matt and Megan, Penelope’s parents wanted more for Penelope and pushed for her to be in their neighborhood school.

Please watch this story of one family’s challenge and how the community school rose to the occasion.


“The Penelope Impact” – a documentary film about 4 years of inclusion in a neighborhood school in Evanston, Illinois

We are hosting a private viewing for Willard Elementary School in Evanston of The Penelope Impact next Wednesday, but then will be posting this for everyone to view following that event… Stay tuned.


Sister Pat’s View on Aging

So, several months ago, my mom came to me and wanted to discuss growing old and how people age with dignity. Our family has had some wonderful experiences with Sister Pat and the Addolorata Villa in Wheeling, Illinois and so we decided to take an afternoon and visit. We listened to sister Pat talk about growing old and some of the difficulties with finding the right balance between independence and safety for our aging family members.

What have your experiences been?

Out of Poverty and Talking to Power

In this episode of Pepsi with Brigid, we interview Vanessa Garcia, a young woman who grew up in poverty and who was inspired by Marianne Williamson at her Sister Giant conference to do something about her situations and others like her. She originally found out about Marianne through a show on Oprah and went to the Sister Giant conference which is where RESULTS Board Member, Marianne Williamson shared her desire to see people like Vanessa take charge of their own destiny.

Patrick Hughes who also sits on the RESULTS board, met Vanessa at the RESULTS conference in the summer of 2013 and took a couple of minutes to hear her story…

The Mission of RESULTS:

Our vision is of a world where the devastating impacts of poverty no longer cripple the ability of individuals and families to sustain themselves and contribute their talents to the world in which they live — where all people have a fair chance at success. But it takes citizens pressuring their leaders for effective anti-poverty programs to receive the attention, policies, and funding they need.

Perhaps, Penelope

This is a story about a 2nd grade student, Penelope who is fully included into her home school of Willard Elementary School in Evanston, Illinois. In this piece, we explore the tough decisions that Matt and Megan Lassman went through to get to this place… Please watch and share

brigid smiling with guillermo matt and megan posing close up of guillermo Matt smiling matt and megan thinking Megan Matt Guillermo and Brigid IMG_2412

Come watch the viewing of “Perhaps, Penelope”

promotion for preview screening


Perhaps, Penelope

Rather than just posting another video blog here at Pepsi with Brigid, we are going to have a viewing event first at Inclusion Solutions along with a discussion. We have shared the story of the Lassman’s several times now.   We sit down with Matt and Megan to discuss how Penelope is being included into their neighborhood school for the first time this year. Most parents who have a child with disabilities, are rookies and are simply left to trust the school systems and what they are being offered. Matt and Megan share with us the impact that it’s having on them, their family and the community.

Please join us

April 10th at 7pm
Inclusion Solutions office
2000 Greenleaf
Evanston, Illinois 60202


Fighting Poverty: Where do you start?


Have you ever thought that the idea of Poverty is just to big to think about, much less get involved with?  Me too.

After the earthquake in Haiti, I traveled there as a friend of a local organization in Evanston, Illinois called the Haitian Congress to bring 4 containers of supplies to people who needed assistance.  I saw things that I had never seen before and then was confused about what to do afterwards…

In this video blog posting we discuss briefly the Haiti trip, then my introduction to the RESULTS organization where I traveled to Bangladesh to meet with RESULTS partner BRAC where I saw with my own eyes solutions to extreme poverty.  There are solutions…

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Please join us

The FDR Memorial – A Story of a Statue (a conversation with Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)


This week we discussed the FDR Memorial with Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, one of FDR’s grandchildren.  Anna has been associated with the Roosevelt Institute for over 30 years and is currently the CEO of Goodwill Industries of Northern New England.  At Goodwill, she works on inclusion and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The FDR Memorial in Washington DC was originally commissioned without any image of disability.  The disability community felt that the memorial was not complete without this image, and members of the disability community, along with Anna Eleanor Roosevelt and her cousins, advocated for an additional statue to be placed at the entrance of the memorial.  The statue, which depicts FDR in a wheelchair, is the most accessible and most photographed statue in the memorial.

A special thanks to Anne for this conversation – it was quite a treat.  Please go visit the memorial in Washington DC.

Remembering Brian Hughes – Innocence, Prison, Mental Illness, AIDS and Family

My parents Pat and Brigid Hughes sat down with me to discuss what it was like to raise a child with mental illness.  It has been 5 years since my brother Brian died and today (April 24th) would have been his 43rd birthday.  I felt compelled to share his story with you.

I think about my brother all the time.  He is with me everyday in my business life and my personal life.  I am forever grateful to my parents for making Brian part of our lives, and for their extraordinary generosity in sharing his story with people we have yet to meet.

Please watch this video to meet my brother Brian and our parents.

After I shot 40 minutes of video interviews with my parents, I struggled to tell this story.  I approached my cousin Terry Maday who is in the film business and asked for his help in telling a story that brings clarity to my brother’s life.   Terry and Oscar Ayala both did an amazing job and I will be forever grateful for their support.

Meet The Lassmans – The impact of disability on the family

Please meet my friends, the Lassmans.  7 years ago, their daughter Penelope was born and there began a wild road of learning how to live with a child with disabilities and how it has impacted their whole family.  They also discuss how important community and friends have been in their experience.

Several years ago, (before I was thinking about blogging) I interviewed them because I was very moved by a story they told me and I put it on video because I thought Oprah Winfrey would have appreciated it…  I haven’t heard from her yet, so please watch it, it blew me away and I think it will you… (please excuse the bad hair in the intro)

My goal with sharing the Lassmans with you is to say that when the community engages and supports families like the Lassmans, our world is a better place.  Please talk with each other and take the time to