Friendship Author Update

Marie and Family

Did you ever wonder who the two friends on our website cover photo are? Their names are Marie and Connie, and they were a friend/mentor pair at a group in Grand Rapids, MI. Do you remember this article, originally published in the Winter 2007 Extras newsletter? Marie was a student at Calvin College when she shared her tips for “Building a Deeper Relationship with Your Friend.”

Since then, Marie earned her bachelor’s degree in Special Education and taught at Elis Christian School in Palos Heights, IL for 2 years. Marie was then married and moved to Austin, Texas where she continued her work in special education and taught at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In January 2017, Marie and her husband Sungmin had a beautiful daughter, Jina. The family currently lives in West Virginia where Marie watches over their little girl at home. She loved teaching and hopes to return to the field of special education someday.

Connie, sadly, passed away in 2016. Her Friendship Group in Grand Rapids still thinks of her fondly, and misses her huge smile and cheerful attitude.

Building a Deeper Relationship with your Friend

A Mentor Shares What Works
by Marie DeVries

  • Visit Anna. This could mean so much to her, especially if she lives in a group home or seldom has visitors. Seeing her home setting will help you understand where she is coming from and what life is like for her outside of Friendship group. A visit will also let her know that she is an important part of your life.
  • Call David. If he lives far away or if you are unable to visit, surprise him with a phone call every now and then. See how his week is going, ask if there’s anything in particular you can pray for, and tell him you’re looking forward to seeing him at the next Friendship meeting.
  • Invite Melody over to your house for dinner. If your friend is able to visit you, bring her into your life and introduce her to your family. Then watch how she becomes a blessing to them. Or take her out for dinner, to a movie, or anything else she might enjoy doing.
  • Send Ben a card. Remember his birthday, or write him a note just to let him know you are thinking about him. If your friend isn’t able to read or doesn’t have someone to read letters for him, haul out your colored pencils and try corresponding through pictures.
  • Interview Paula. If Friendship group is the only place that works to meet your friend, ask her to bring favorite pictures or items from home, and you do the same. During one-on-one time, ask each other questions, tell stories, and give your testimonies. If your friend is nonverbal, invite a family member or caregiver to sit with you and to share what they know about your friend.
  • Pray with Ryan. Praying together has a way of deepening our relationships with each other even as it draws us closer to God. If your friend is uncomfortable praying at first, come up with a prayer script to pray together. If your friend is nonverbal, find other ways to pray together, including sign language, gestures, or perhaps a prayer song.

Remember, if you are unsure how to build a deeper relationship with your friend, ask family members or caregivers for ideas. They know your friend better than you do, and with their help you and your friend can build a lasting relationship.

Were you or a friend ever featured in a Friendship Newsletter article? Do you have an update you would like to share? We’d love to hear about how Friendship has helped you grow in faith and community! Contact LaVonne at to learn how.

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