By Jillian Ramsey
This article was originally published in Issue 4, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (October 22, 2015). Click here to view the entire issue.
Most of us start college hoping to meet new friends or return for another school year excited to reunite with old ones.
Best Buddies takes a different approach to meeting new friends at DeSales. Best Buddies is an international nonprofit organization committed to creating one- on-one friendships as well as employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs).
On Sunday, Oct. 4, Best Buddies hosted its first event of the semester in McShea Student Union, the meet-and-greet cookout. It gave DeSales students and their new buddies a chance to meet one another. All students and their buddies introduced themselves to the club and talked about what they like to do together. After lunch and introductions, everyone had fun painting together.
Lauren Weiser, a senior accounting major, has been a member of Best Buddies for four years.
“After everyone was done introducing themselves, Billy Jack, one of the buddies, came over to me and pointed to Phil, a college student, and said he wanted to be his buddy,” Wieser said. “He was so excited because Phil likes to do outdoor activities just like he does. It was the greatest thing to see him so happy for this new friendship.”
Janine Curran, a senior business administration major, and a four-year member of the club, explains the major benefits of Best Buddies.
“I feel as though the benefit for both sides of the friendship is, honestly, just friendship,” Curran said. “You cannot put a price or a value on the connection you make with your buddy. Taking the time out of your day to talk to your buddy or go out and do something with them makes both their day and your day.”
Aside from planned club events, students are encouraged to spend one on one time with their buddies as well.
“My buddy’s name is Kelly, and our favorite thing to do is shop,” Wieser said. “Every time I ask her what we should do when we hang out, she always says, ‘shopping!’ Even though I’m graduating this year, I will still be best friends with Kelly, and I’m sure there will be many more shopping trips in our future.”
DeSales students and their buddies do many different activities together aside from organized events. A lot of students take their buddies out to eat, to go bowling or to on-campus sporting events.
Best Buddies is truly the start to a lifelong friendship. It helps build confidence and, of course, make memories.
“You cannot put a price or a value on the connection you make with your buddy,” Curran said. “Seeing the smiles on their faces when you hang out with them is something that can never be replaced. It is the most heartwarming feeling you’ll ever have.”