by Beth Dixon

Jen McIntosh

Daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, niece, friend, classmate, dancer, actress, college student, writer, teacher, trainer, advocate, leader, community organizer, activist, and so much more - Jennifer was beautiful, smart, independent, and her presence was felt wherever she went.

Jennifer’s life journey was comparably short – just 30 years – but she accomplished her goals because she knew exactly what she wanted – a regular life that included a home, college, a job she loved, family, and good friends to hang out with.  She wanted to dance and act, go to concerts – especially a Taylor Swift concert – and just have fun.  She did it all.

When she was 21, Jennifer participated in the NH Leadership Series.  At the time her greatest fear was that Maine, her home state, was expecting her to move into a nursing home.  Jennifer had very different dreams for her future.  She organized people she knew could help make her dream a reality and it worked.  Jennifer became a New Hampshire’s resident and moved into her own apartment in Keene.  In 2010, she was recognized as a Celebrated Monadnock Woman.  She attended Keene State College and completed her degree in Psychology.

Jennifer was a writer and loved to dance to all kinds of music.  In college, she had a role in the Vagina Monologues.  She was an advocate for people regardless of their challenges and a staff trainer at Chesco, Inc. in Keene.  An activist and a member of ABLE NH (Advocates Building Lasting Equality), she loved being in the middle of a good demonstration.  Jennifer spoke out, presented at schools and businesses, and lobbied the legislature on issues affecting people with disabilities.  Through her words and presence, she changed how others perceived disability. 

The creator of change in her own life, she inspired others to do the same.  She has left a powerful and beautiful legacy.  Here is but one example, “Knowing you Jennifer has been an incredible gift.  Your spirit has changed so many.  You enhance the lives of everyone you meet and your advocacy will live on. Thank you for giving a voice to those who haven’t found theirs yet through your education.  When you came into my daughter’s 7th grade class you opened their minds, changed their perspective, and forever they will see the person - the individual - not just the disability.  I am and will always be grateful that you touched my life and the life of my daughter.”

Jennifer’s last wish was to swim with the dolphins.  She researched the trip, planned all the details, and is likely swimming with them now…

A Celebration of Jennifer’s life was held April 30th at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield, NH.  In lieu of flowers, Jennifer requested that people donate in her name to Crotched Mountain, ABLE NH, or the NH Leadership Series, click here to donate.

This was originally published in the RAP Sheet: Summer Issue 2016.