Best Buddies

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contentse-Buddies in Action!

This is a new segment of the e-Beat! Each month we will highlight a school or agency involved in e-Buddies. Our hope is that this will be an opportunity to share some of the challenges and triumphs encountered through group participation in e-Buddies!

This month, we spoke with Julie Thompson from the Barbara Olson Center for Hope in Rockford, Illinois!

How long has your group been involved in e-Buddies?
Our main site has been involved since 2001; our satellite site has just joined us this last March.

How many members are currently matched with e-Buddies?
We have matched 18 altogether. One young lady moved out of the area recently, and we are trying to see if she can get access to a computer to keep it going.

What are some key challenges you have faced and overcome?
Some of our people are very challenged when it comes to communication in written form. Working with them each week on complete sentences and questions has been challenging, but they have made great progress. They have also learned appropriate boundaries of what to write and what not to write.

Another big challenge is that our agency is a day training workshop setting, which means some of the people here work and earn a paycheck. Scheduling everyone and trying to get them all done each week when sometimes they are working has been tough.

The last challenge is technology. When we joined e-Buddies in 2001, we had brand new computers, but they have had many issues, which has slowed our progress down some weeks.

How do you make e-Buddies work with your group?
The small lab we have is not in the work area, so we are really asking people to leave paid work to write an e-mail to their e-Buddy. When it comes to the working, we try to remain flexible; however, there are times when we have to say, “If you don’t come now, you won’t get a chance until next week”. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t, which means we do go back and try to pull them away again. This is time-consuming, but we manage to get them all. Occasionally, when we try to get someone who is working, we will offer to take other people to the lab, and we actually get new people interested in the computers this way.

What have your group members gained by participating in e-Buddies?
I have seen many friendships grow. Some of our members have had the same e-Buddy since we started, and you can tell the person really cares when they ask about family week after week. Some of our members have lived through many natural life occurrences through communication with e-Buddies. Marriage, births, death, moving, weather, new jobs and TSUNAMI all have been spoken about in the letters. e-Buddies has given the participants here at the Center of Hope a chance to learn more about the world and expanded the world they live in.

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Do you work with a group of e-Buddies participants? We'd love to feature your group here! Please contact us at ebuddiescomments@bestbuddies.org.


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