Buddy Program can change your life in wonderful ways
Are you looking to make a difference in someone else’s life while at the same time enriching your own? Have you ever wanted to help make the world a better place? Do you seek a way to “pay it forward” in honor of someone who has lent you a helping hand along your own personal journey?
Well, look no further. The answer is simple and offers the ultimate win-win scenario for all parties involved. Lives are changed, communities are strengthened, and lifelong friendships are created.
The answer is to become a mentor in the Buddy Program. How do I know this, you may ask? Well, 11 years ago I made the decision to do so and took a leap of faith in the face of my own personal doubts about my ability to make a difference. Would I have the time? Would I be able to establish a relationship with a total stranger? Would it cost me money I didn’t have?
Looking back at what has transpired in the 11 years since I nervously met my then 7-year-old Buddy, I am now filled with joy at the decision I made to follow my instincts to get involved with this incredible program. I laugh at all the anxieties and trepidations I had, as they all proved to be mere figments of my imagination.
I have had the privilege of witnessing the blossoming and growth of someone who is now a fine young man readying himself to be the first ever in his family to attend college and then conquer the world. I’ve experienced the joy of seeing a future that we designed together come to fruition and exceed all our expectations. We shared many “firsts” together: the first movie, the first rock climbing/ropes course experience, the first snowboarding lesson, the first camping experience … The list is endless.
I have witnessed the strength and resilience of the human spirit when we faced issues that would make most of us buckle at the knees. I have learned that you can learn as much from a young child as they can learn from you. But the best thing of all is that I met a fine young boy who has grown into an exemplary young man whom I’m proud to call my friend. He has been the “Big Buddy” to my own two children and has shown them firsthand the benefits of hard work and determination, as well as the importance of not being afraid to believe in oneself and dare to dream big.
There is nothing I regret about getting involved with the Buddy Program except for not joining earlier. I have full confidence that my Buddy and I will be involved in each other’s lives for the rest of them, and I urge anyone who is considering getting involved to do so now. There is a great kid out there just waiting to meet you, who I promise will change your life in wonderful ways you now cannot fathom.
Peter Dolan is a current Big Buddy in The Buddy Program. He lives in Carbondale.
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I wrote this column to share my story through my cultural assets: Aspirational, linguistic, familial, navigational, social, and resistant. I know we all have an open wound in our lives and I want to share…