Life Navigators has been a saving grace to many consumers across the state of Wisconsin. Few are a better testament to the organization’s work than Mark S, of Cudahy. Mark, a 52-year-old who has developmental disabilities. He lost both of his parents at a young age and has been a part of the Life Navigators family since the death of his older sister, Debby, in early 2016.

For the time that Mark lived with Debby they enjoyed gardening, grocery shopping, and carrying out their Wednesday night tradition of going out to eat. If Debby had to work, Mark would get up at 6:30 in the morning to see her off. In her absence he would find ways to keep himself busy around the house like doing dishes or watching TV until he could greet her the same way he did every other day, “Hi Debby!”. Since Debby’s tragic death Mark has had to adjust to living on his own.

“When Debby died it was almost the end of my life, I lost everybody,” said Mark. The first few days were tough, Mark sat alone in a house previously filled with life. He spent his days playing computer games to try to console his lonely heart. It wasn’t until Valentine’s Day when he received his annual Valentine from the school across the street that things began to look up.

Thankfully, Mark’s resilience and positive outlook on life allowed him to learn how to live an independent lifestyle and do things he never did before such as banking, paying bills, grocery shopping, and cooking. To keep himself occupied Mark partakes in his lifelong hobbies of collecting baseball cards and playing video games. As a way of honoring Debby, Mark plans to continue their tradition of planting a garden. He also enjoys visits to the grocery store and the bank as outings. As quick-witted as Mark is, he still attributes much of his success at independent living to Life Navigators. Mark cites showing him how to write checks, use a debit card, and assisting in planning Debby’s funeral as the most valuable of Life Navigators’ services. As for his case workers, Mary and Lynn he appreciates their advice and counseling especially when it comes to explaining pieces of mail that he doesn’t quite understand. Perhaps this final quote best illustrates the relationship of Mark and Life Navigators. “For 52 years of my entire life it was either mom or dad or Debby, now it’s me and I have Life Navigators to help.”

This story was written by our student volunteer, Dominique, pictured above (right) with our Program Manager, Mary Till, and consumer, Mark.