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Jennifer Wassermiller

As soon as she got her degree in human development from Cornell, Brooklyn native Jennifer Wassermiller headed west. She worked in restaurants part-time and also in organizations serving adults with mental illness, at first in Albuquerque, where she met a guy from Oregon, then in Portland. She got pregnant, got married, had two sets of twins, fled her abusive husband, and wound up in Eugene. "With four kids I couldn't do social work, so I waited tables," she says. "People know me from Cafe Navarro and Ring of Fire." As the mother of a child with autism, Wassermiller became an advocate for people with disabilities and started a support group for parents of kids with autism at Bridgeway House. "I also facilitate a group at home," she adds. After marriage to Paul Solomon in '04, Wassermiller carpooled to Portland State once a week. She completed an MSW in June with a 4.0 GPA and gave one of the commencement addresses. "I call myself an Ivy League welfare mom," she says. "Having used services like Womenspace and the Relief Nursery makes me a better service provider."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 6 July 2006

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