I have been volunteering with Best Buddies for a decade now and I will never stop because I find the mission of Best Buddies so powerful and empowering. Best Buddies does not ask volunteers to be just mentors, tutors, or anything like that; instead, volunteers are asked to be friends. The great thing about friendship is the give-and-take nature of it. I have received much more from my experience with Best Buddies and from my buddies than I ever expected. If you choose to get involved with Best Buddies, you'll never regret it and you might never be able to stop.
I have had an E-buddy for almost 8 years now, and have developed a beautiful friendship with a woman I would not have otherwise met. Best Buddies is an organization that strives to build and cultivate love and friendships…what more could we want out of life? I love being a part of such a positive team, and highly recommend getting involved in this organization.
My name is Ikea Glover. I'm 22 years old and I'm from wilmington, delaware. I'm disabled and my family is disabled also.
The first organization I looked for at NYU's club fair was Best Buddies. Last year, as a freshman at a new school, I wanted to be a part of something fun, exciting, fulfilling and most of all, familiar. I had been a part of the Best Buddies International organization since my freshman year of high school and became the Chapter President my senior year. Although as a Chapter President I held many leadership responsibilities, the work that I put into building of our chapter never felt like work at all; I had the incredible support of Gerri Caruncho, the chapter advisor; Catherine Houlihan, the program manager; and my members who were always willing to volunteer extra time and share responsibilities. In Best Buddies, it is the culminated efforts of an entire chapter that determines its success of becoming an extended family. The four years that I had spent at Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, Florida were absolutely changed by my experiences in Best Buddies. Greater than the great love and dedication we worked to create in our chapter was the sense of pride, accomplishment and fulfillment of our chapter that Best Buddies has given us in return. More than I could ever teach my Buddy, Anya, is what she has taught me in return - to be a better person. After graduating high school I can only hope to share what my Anya has taught me with others in NYU Best Buddies and beyond: acceptance, respect, loyalty, trust and understanding - the constitutes of true, unconditional friendship. Of the many strengths of Best Buddies is that it is an organization that works for the future. It's dynamic encourages members and Buddies to grow as the organization grows, rather than just be a simple volunteer. With Best Buddies and what I have learned from it, I continue to grow as a person with the experiences I have with my new Buddy, Marieanne. Just last week we made princess crowns for her costume for the Halloween Best Buddies party. I was cutting out the gemstone shapes and the crown templates extremely carefully when Marieanne reminded me that she would love her crown no matter how it looked because I had helped her make it. With Best Buddies, I hope more people will realize that it doesn't matter if Marieanne doesn't know how to use scissors, she knows so much more that is truly valuable. She reminds me that perfection isn't what is important, but rather, the imperfections that make life special - A true testament to the Best Buddies mission.
I a m currently the chapter president of the University of Miami chapter of Best Buddies and I must say, all of our members enjoy being part of this grand organization! It is important for all of us that our buddies are happy with their friendships and are being contacted and treated as a true friend. We are required to send in Friendship Updates and describe the different activities we did throughout the month with our buddies. At UM, these updates are read thoroughly and problems are addressed immediately. The staff at Headquarters is alos a very important part of this organization- they are the base and the go-to for everything that has to do with Best Buddies. All staff members are reliable- they will help you with anything you need! Without them, Best Buddies chapters would not function. And as for my own buddy pair, I have been matched with my buddy for over a year now and I must say that our relationship has grown wonderfully, not just into a friendship, but into a sisterly-bond. We care for each other and although it feels great to know that in some way, i am making an impact in the life of another, it is indescribable to mention the many ways my own life has been impacted and the amazing feelings I get when I am around my buddy. It is a truly life-altering experience, always for the better.
I joined Best Buddies "email buddies" at first. That is how I wanted to get started and provide social inclusion with someone with an intellectual disability to let them know someone cared and was willing to be their friend. I wanted my 16 year old daughter (at the time) to join as an email buddy. She was skeptical at first. She told me she did not know how to interact and was scared. I told her all she needed to was be a friend. She agreed and I told her I would help her get started. I had know idea she was finally paired with an email buddy and my daughter wrote her buddy on her own. They have so many things in common. I think that makes email buddies special because it does take a while to get paired. I think they send emails everyday day now. My daughter has actually became a great friend to her email buddy. Sometimes her e-buddy will vent with frustration and my daughter always tries to cheer her e-buddy up. She also stresses that her e-buddy may have an intellectual disability that main streamed kids also get picked on too. They talk a lot about music, shopping, and movies. My daughter has never met her her e-buddy but they are like best friends. My college age daughter joined to become an email buddy. She was recently paired up and she really enjoys talking to this girl. My daughter is Bipolar and Dyslexic and has really helped her e-buddy overcome obstacles. Since they are older they are planning on meeting each other one day. I can not say enough for this program. I am actually in the process now of getting paired with an actual buddy from my area to be a friend too and take to the movies and shopping. In the meantime, we have two intellectually disabled 19 and 20 year old boys at my church and I wanted to approach the mother but not offend her. After mass one morning I approached her. I had to explain how in detail the program works. She listened to me. I gave her the email address to Best Buddies International and she signed her boys up for e-buddies. She then looked into the other programs to see what else best buddies has to offer her sons. She called me the next day and talked more. Her one son is in a group home apartments nearby. She gave the administrator information and the website. The administrator called me back and was interested to have me to meet the residents and sign them up with e-buddies and see if I can get them paired with a one on one buddy or jobs. My first step was signing them all up to be paired with an e-buddy. My husband works near this group home and is in management and is willing to give a couple of the residents jobs. He has also contacted Indiana and Chicago Chapters to get more information for jobs. He has talked to neighboring businesses about hiring some of the intellectually disabled individuals. This has turned into a family affair project that we all love socially included these individuals. Now my mother has signed up for an e-buddy and is waiting to get match! Best Buddies all around is a great program that promotes social inclusion for those with intellectual disabilities.
Best Buddies has truly brought something extra special to my life. I am currently a Visual Communication Senior attending Herron School of Art & Design located directly downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. This past semester, spring semester of Junior year, my creative team and I had both the privilege and opportunity to work with Best Buddies Indiana. This semester-long project ended with the delivery of a creative communications campaign that would ultimately better the organization. "Buddy Up", the title of the campaign, serves to gain awareness and spur the interest in getting more people involved within the organization. Many teammates of my group decided to jump in the organization ourselves to gain a real sense of what the organization was all about - given that most of us were completely new to the organization. I soon gained a Buddy, a person with a disability, but I like to label him as a life-long friend. Matt and I talk daily through either the phone (both talk and text) and via Facebook. Matt is considered high-functioning, yet doesn't technically have a label, although he's 27, but has a reading level of a third-grader. He truly knows how to make me smile and laugh in any given situation - for that, I'm thankful. "Buddy Up" just recently launched statewide in 72 high schools and colleges this past fall. It has been an amazing ride with Best Buddies and I know for a doubt it will continue. The stories my team and I have been receiving from area chapters has been absolutely rewarding knowing that not only it's working in gaining interest, but they're having a blast carrying it out. Best Buddies has taught me a great deal of character and has opened up my mind into not being so judgmental. I've learned to look past people's disabilities while in return embracing their abilities.