Who We Help | Marynell

For Marynell and Susanne, Life Skills has offered more than just a new friendship. Life Skills’ Friend-In-Deed program has provided them with a lifelong sisterhood.

Marynell, 57, lives with a cognitive developmental disability that usually hinders her ability to reside independently and makes it difficult to do things most of us take for granted, like make friends.

Marynell joined the Friend-In-Deed program because she “thought it would be nice to meet other people and see what other things are like.”

Life Skills, a United Way supported agency, has been helping people with developmental disabilities expand life dignity by finding jobs, homes and making friends since 1966. The Friend-In-Deed program pairs clients who have been diagnosed with a developmental disability with a community volunteer.

About a year ago, Susanne was matched up with Marynell. Since then, their lives have been changed. Because Susanne has a sister back home in New York with similar disabilities to that of Marynell, she knew their Friend-In-Deed match was meant to be.

Their first outing was to the Missouri Botanical Garden, and they have been going back ever since. Once a month, Susanne picks Marynell up from her house and they spend the weekend days together. Enjoying activities such as painting each other’s nails, attending concerts and their favorite – shows at the Fox Theatre.

“She had never been to the Fox, so I took her to see Shrek,” Susanne said. “If you could have seen her when I picked her up; she looked radiant and all dolled up.”

Without Life Skills’ funding from United Way, Marynell may have never been able to experience the love and true friendship Susanne offers.

It has only been a year and already Marynell has experienced the benefits of this program – especially the social benefits. She joins Susanne and her family for holidays and has no problem fitting in. Susanne even offered to help Marynell rearrange her kitchen so that things would be easier to reach.

Susanne and Marynell continue to enjoy each others’ company and have become more than just good friends.

“I consider Marynell part of my family,” Susanne said. “I used to have six sisters; now I have seven.”

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