Executive Director Emily Rubin was recently featured on Wild Peace’s Podcast Series. In this episode, she explains the many emotions siblings experience when their brother or sister is struggling with mental health issues, and describes the various ways that siblings might respond.
The work of the MSSN focuses on supporting siblings of people with disabilities. At any age, being a sibling can be challenging — and this is especially true for young children who are still learning to navigate the world and their place in it, as well as their own complex emotions.
MSSN Executive Director, Emily Rubin, and Board Co-President, Hillary Dunn Stansiz, participated in the Cooperative for Human Services’ event in honor of National Sibling Day. Emily moderated the panel discussion about sibling experiences, challenges, and opportunities to connect individuals with disabilities to our communities.
This beautiful and honest short video captures the challenges, wonders, and wide range of emotions that siblings of people with Angelman Syndrome experience. Moreover, it brings to light the important role of siblings and the transition to a caretaker role that some siblings assume as they age.
Meet Zach Rossetti! Zach joined the MSSN Board in June 2017 and was named Co-President in February of 2019. As an Associate Professor of Special Education in Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, Zach teaches undergraduate and graduate students who will become general education teachers, special education teachers, and related service providers. He conducts research on sibling roles and relationships, family engagement in special education, and friendships between students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Moreover, he contributes to BU Wheelock’s service mission of promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Meet Brittany Bohrer! She is a wonderful new volunteer at the MSSN, where she is helping to organize adult sibling “meet and greets” and other types of outreach to siblings of people with disabilities. Brittany currently works as a special education science teacher. and enjoys hiking, travel, and reading in her leisure time.
Meet Hillary Dunn Stanisz! She has served on the MSSN Board of Directors since 2013. Hillary has an older brother with Angelman Syndrome, and as a result of her experience, she has devoted her career to assisting individuals with disabilities and their families. As an attorney at the Disability Law Center, Inc., she represents individuals with disabilities in matters involving special education, abuse and neglect, and securing appropriate community supports and services from adult human service agencies.
Hillary also serves on the Steering Committee of The Arc of Massachusetts and as a Council Member on the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. In addition, she enjoys mentoring siblings in law school about careers in the disability arena.
5 Questions with Hillary:
1. What does the work of the MSSN mean to you?
The MSSN means many things to me, but two big ones are community and progress.
Community in that adult siblings like me don’t often have friends or networks – a community – of fellow adult siblings with similar experiences, victories, challenges and concerns. It can be lonely for us. I have met amazing adult siblings through the MSSN who are now friends and part of my network. The MSSN has created, and continues to work to create, space for this “community” to grow for adult siblings.
Progress in that the MSSN is raising awareness about sibling experiences and issues across the life span and providing education to adult siblings on important future planning topics. After all, siblings most often have the longest relationship with their brother/sister with a disability. In the disability community, “family” or “family support” cannot continue to mean only “parent” or “parent support,” and the MSSN is leading the progress of changing this with service providers, state agencies, parents, and more.
2. How did you become involved with the MSSN?
Working in the disability community, I was aware of the start of the MSSN and knew one of the founders. Once I was a bit settled in my legal career, I began exploring volunteer opportunities and Boards that I felt I could help with and that would be meaningful for me. The MSSN was a natural fit.
3. What do you think is the biggest challenge that the MSSN faces?
Sustaining funding and building the organization from a financial standpoint.
4. What has been the MSSN’s biggest success?
The MSSN is a true grassroots organization – a volunteer board doing all the work itself. In a very short time, the MSSN, to the immense credit of Emily Rubin, has grown to have its first paid employee and be awarded a prestigious grant.
5. What mantra do you live by?
Work hard, family first, and never forget to laugh along the way.
For more information on the MSSN, contact us here.