Meet Liz Glenn: A Person Making It in the Community

Photo of Liz Glenn at her workplace, the Essence of Thyme Cafe & Gift Shop

Liz at TILL's Essence of Thyme Café & Gift Shop,
where she has been employed for 12 years.

Until you meet her, you might not know that Liz Glenn has a disability. This 44-year-old Alabama native lives with a roommate in her own Quincy apartment. She wakes on weekday mornings and commutes to her job at a Hyde Park business called the Essence of Thyme, which provides catering and a wide array of gifts on par with any Newbury Street establishment. On weekends, she enjoys visiting with friends and is a regular churchgoer.When you speak with Liz, she will smile and tell you all about her world, her neighborhood, her network of friends and family. You soon become aware that this woman is determined to make it, despite the challenges she has so frequently faced in the past and will invariably encounter in the years ahead. Ask her if these challenges are easy and she’ll give you an honest answer: “Of course not, life is tough!” If you were asked the same question - whether hitting the occasional curveball is demanding - you might respond the same as Liz.

Living in the community is not without its share of risks, but with risk comes reward, self-fulfillment and life. Liz has thrived as a member of the rainbow of people comprised of different colors, sizes, and abilities that make up our community. Consider for a moment how you would feel without access to your community - if you were told that all of the risk, the pain, the joy and tears could be kept away, that you could be made “safe.” Is that the kind of life you would choose? Again, you might respond as Liz would: that life without community is much less of a life.

Liz is the face of community.

According to her official Department of Mental Retardation file, Liz’s “Relevant capabilities, limitations and preferences” are listed as follows: “Has use of right arm only, but can lean forward and reach with other arm. Can’t travel independently to familiar places.” Her “Distinguishing Marks” are listed as “quadriplegic, multiple old surgical scars, uses electric wheelchair.” Her “ability to protect self without assistance” is described as “Not able due to physical disability.”

There are those who would say that Liz and others with similar physical and cognitive disabilities should remain shuttered away in segregated “safe” institutional settings. There are those who would say that people faced with such challenges cannot possibly survive outside, exposed to the harsh light of the community. They really should spend time with the woman described above... because Liz is the face of community.

Learn more about The Arc's efforts to promote community living for people like Liz