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Noel & Michael Pino: it’s a family thing: By Abilities United

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Michael Pino dedicates much of his life to taking care of his brother Noel, a big-hearted man in his 50’s who is developmentally disabled. Michael has a simple, clear view of how Abilities United fits in with his life. “Abilities United enables a family to function with a normal workday, and enables me to pursue my career.”

How does Abilities United have such a dramatic impact on Michael and his brother? “Noel is at Abilities United every day during the week, and I know he’s in good hands there,” says Michael. Because of this, Michael can go to work. “Noel looks forward to going to Abilities United. Each night he tells me about his friends, and what they did that day.”

At Abilities United, Noel learns life skills like folding clothes or loading a dishwasher. With the help of Abilities United, Noel learned the days of the week. “That was amazing,” says Michael. “I’m very grateful for what may seem to others to be small progress.”

Noel also volunteers at community organizations with a group of other Abilities United participants. They work at 40 organizations including Mitchell Park where they pickup trash, NCEFT and BOK Horse Ranch where they clean stalls and groom horses, and the Humane Society and Marine Science Institute where they feed animals and clean up cages. These activities not only benefit the community; they also give Noel and dozen of Abilities United participants the satisfaction of making a valuable contribution to the community. They also learn important work skills which they may be able to use for employment.

Michael greatly appreciates that Abilities United has not only helped Noel maximize his potential, but that the organization helps families as well. “Early on, they helped me understand how to better understand people with disabilities, and they’ve helped both Noel and me learn how to cope with the challenges. It’s a family thing.”

His advice to other families is simple. “If you’re lucky enough to get into Abilities United, then thank your lucky stars. It’s been great for us.”

The Abilities United staff considers Noel to be an unofficial greeter at the facility, as he is always anxious to welcome visitors. His kind heart and friendly, open nature touches us all.

Based on an interview with Michael and Noel Pino in 2013. Written by Bob Thomas. Edited by Michael Pino and Wendy Kuehnl.