Non-profit champions for developmentally disabled cause
Looking for a new and different way to get involved with the Boulder community this year? Best Buddies, a non-profit organization that works with people with intellectual disabilities needs new volunteers.
For more information, visit their Web site or contact Kari Snow at email@example.com.
Best Buddies is an international program that pairs a student with a person who has a developmental disability, such as Down Syndrome. The CU chapter of Best Buddies, which was reinstated at the end of last year, pairs student volunteers with disabled adults ranging in age from 24 to 83. The adults with disabilities are members of the Carmel Community Living Corporation, which provides comprehensive services to people who are recognized by the government as having a disability.
Students are typically assigned one buddy. They are required to make contact with their buddy (usually by phone) once a week and go on outings with their buddy at least once a month. There are also several group activities throughout the year, such as bowling or pizza parties, which count as a monthly outing. Additionally, there is a monthly meeting that all volunteers are required to attend.
Best Buddies is hoping to take on more volunteers this year.
“Right now we have about five members,” said Jessica Dunn, the program manager at Carmel Community Living Corporation. “Essentially, we could get all of our 50 members involved.”
The number of people with disabilities participating in Best Buddies basically depends on the number of volunteers.
“We are always looking for more volunteers,” said Kari Snow, a junior hearing sciences major and director of the CU Best Buddies program.
Best Buddies is seen as a particularly important aspect of the lives of people with disabilities.
“It’s really the first time (that they) are being accepted in a peer group with non-disabled people,” volunteer Molly DeCoursey said.
“The hardest thing a person with a disability has to face is being seen as an equal,” said Snow.
In addition to gaining friendship and respect from their buddy, the disabled members of Best Buddies also enjoy group events.
“They love it,” Dunn said. “They always look forward to Best Buddy events.”
Although the time commitment for Best Buddies is relatively minimal compared to other volunteer organizations, the experience can be just as valuable and rewarding.
“I really think I got more out of this experience than my buddy did,” DeCoursey said.
Contact Staff Writer Julie Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.