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Students Build Friendships Through Best Buddies
3/21/2012
Graphic: Best Buddies LogoDo you want to make a difference in someone’s life? Twenty-nine students from the University of St. Thomas do just that every week through their involvement with Best Buddies.

A nonprofit volunteer organization, Best Buddies builds one-on-one friendships between students and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). UST is one of 16 Texas universities with active Best Buddies chapters. Each IDD adult – or “buddy” – is paired with a student who calls or visits at least once a week.

Twice a week, vans are available to take UST students to visit their buddies and the students plan regular activities such as bowling or visiting local parks. Many buddy pairs remain the same from year-to-year, allowing real, long-term friendships to form.

Chloe Jester, treasurer of the UST chapter, said she joined Best Buddies looking for a way to become active in the community, not realizing the impact it would have on her life.

“The most fulfilling part of Best Buddies is the positive feeling I get every day I see my buddy, Carol,” Jester said. “She is an amazing, beautiful person who has expanded my view of the world and has shown me how wonderful life truly is.

Carol has made me an advocate for adults with intellectual disabilities.” On March 31, more than 9,000 members of Best Buddies Houston will come to the UST campus for the Best Buddies Friendship Walk, an annual fundraiser advocating social inclusion in the community.

Jester said the benefits of being a buddy are infinite, including the friendships formed with other student members, the impact left on another person’s life and the laughter and fun of building relationships between buddies. Students looking to volunteer and see the benefits of their work first-hand are encouraged to join the UST Best Buddies chapter.

Student Buddies must be willing to commit to the mission of Best Buddies, participate regularly and maintain genuine friendships. For more information, contact ustbestbuddies@gmail.com.

Pictured: UST senior Jennifer Wade with Patty, her buddy of four years

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