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Each month, we are happy to take the time to highlight a school or agency that is 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 Kevin Ivery from Cross Plains Community Partner (CPCP) in Georgia.

How long has your group been involved in e-Buddies?
We became involved during August of 2006.

How many members are currently matched with e-Buddies?
CPCP has 5 individuals—or Persons Served-- actively corresponding with an e-Buddy, as well as one or two more folks on whose behalf CPCP is working to provide the opportunity to have an e-Buddy, should they choose to "go for it".

What are some key challenges you have faced and overcome?
We try to work in one or two people at a time, no more than that, and at CPCP this approach is probably for the best, as there are so many things going on simultaneously here, and so many things going on with each of the persons CPCP serves (as well as with the staff members who support our Persons Served). Indeed, if a CPCP staff member were to try to assist with bringing in several people at one time into e-Buddies, it might be a bit too overwhelming a task (not for any the Persons Served necessarily, but for the staff member).

Some of the challenges we have faced are mentioned above-- in our particular case (at CPCP), the primary challenge being, namely, that there is so much going on around here. So much so, that it’s hard to work everything in (not just e-Buddies, but a hundred other things as well), and sometimes it seems that something, somewhere, has got to suffer. Indeed, finding the opportunities, and time, to assist our Persons Served applying and registering, etc., for e-Buddies, and then supporting them getting on-line so they can make contact (some need varying degrees of assistance here) and then with the actual corresponding—making time for this, and doing it, is a challenge, and an on-going challenge at that.

How do you make e-Buddies work with your group?
As far as working out a schedule for all this correspondence, at CPCP we have a computer lab (for Persons Served) with 3 of the 9 lab-computers hooked into the Internet. Having such a computer lab definitely helps. During a regularly scheduled "lab”, there might be several opportunities wherein a Person Served can, if he or she chooses to, correspond with their e-Buddy (something they usually get done between, say, playing computer games, painting via the computer paint program, making collages and greeting cards via Print Shop, surfing the net and writing text via Word, etc.). That said, however, staff at CPCP tries to encourage our folks to come in at arrival and do their corresponding—before things get all hectic, as our days at CPCP invariably become. One last note-- if a Person Served can’t write the text himself (or herself), which is sometimes the case, staff is happy to take dictation, always striving to put the message down (in the email) the way our Persons Served say it, not the way we’d say it.

What have your group members gained by participating in e-Buddies?
Eventually the e-Buddies "thing" becomes not only part of the routine for some of our folks, but in some instances, and particularly with certain individuals, something very special.

Thomas is the best example of someone for whom corresponding with their e-Buddy has become an integral part of his life. His relationship with his wise, family-centered, New Yorker e-Buddy Dave has, seemingly on its own accord, taken on the form of a real bond—indeed, a friendship of sorts, upon which Thomas looks for actual support, for something that’s dependable and consistent and always there.

Another of our Persons Served, Mac, shoots the breeze and “talks Southern” with a hip, happening, family-centered musician from Boston named Bryan.

And Jennifer makes sure her e-Buddy knows she loves Garth Brooks.

The rewards are as big for us as they are for them.

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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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