Lisa Villani is an amazing woman whose personal life experience enables her to identify and empathize with the families she supports as an Advisor in the Special Needs Project.
For Lisa herself has a health diagnosis from her early years. She remembers how her mother reacted to Lisa’s diagnosis. Because of those memories and impressions, she relates with incredible respect and understanding for parents whose children have special needs.
Lisa has been an Advisor with the Special Needs Project for over 3 years. Previously she worked for many years as a social worker in youth protection and teen/youth centres at the Local Community Service Centre (CLSC) in Montreal.
Now Lisa works part time at the Marie-Enfant Rehabilitation Centre in Montreal, part of the St. Justine Children’s Hospital. Lisa’s job includes reception, evaluation and orientation of requests for services.
While Lisa enjoys her work at the Marie-Enfant Centre, she is thrilled at the opportunity she has to talk with parents through her Advisor role in the Special Needs Project. And Lisa is a remarkable person to speak with – she is trilingual, speaking Italian, French and English! While the majority of the families she supports in the Special Needs Project are French speakers, there are a few bilingual French/English parents as well.
One of the highlights of Lisa’s work in the Special Needs Project was the day she met one of the parents at her job at the Marie-Enfant Rehabilitation Centre. This parent was the first parent Lisa had ever contacted through the Special Needs Project! Lisa was getting to know this parent and had been able to provide her with some resources. Lisa said that this face-to-face meeting was ‘enormous’ for her – she just loved having the chance to meet the parent she had come to know over the phone!
Through her work at Marie-Enfant and the Special Needs Project, Lisa gets to see a lot of families and children who have extra needs. She feels that people who work with children with special needs are able to put the children first as they collaborate to support families.
Lisa has a busy life – she is caregiver for her father and, along with her partner Patrick, rescues dogs. Her current canine companion is ‘Sugarcrisp,’ a most beautiful and generous 7 year old Golden Labrador Retriever.
What has Lisa learned from her role as an Advisor? Lisa sees so much growth in the families; she sees how parents change over time from when they first learn of their child’s diagnosis, becoming strong and resourceful as they develop a sense of a new ‘normal’ with their child.
Lisa has an overwhelming respect for the families in the Special Needs Project, who continue to teach her so much about people. Lisa says that these parents “give me strength, and they don’t even realize it!”