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The State of e-Buddies

By Lisa Marlene Derx

Perhaps this season of political conventions and electioneering has me in a more statesmanlike mood, so I can't resist saying, as we have heard so many presidents say in their annual address to the nation, the state of e-Buddies is strong!

Whimsy aside, the state of e-Buddies IS strong. We have a terrific program, dedicated participants, and a creative staff. We have survived severe cuts to our budget, a drop in the number of staff focused solely on e-Buddies, and fears about Internet safety. We have overcome these challenges, we have continued, we have improved, we have streamlined, we have flourished.

Most importantly, we continue to grow, adding new members each year while retaining a high percentage of those who enrolled in previous years. We measure activity by the number of e-mails exchanged.

In 2007, 73,968 e-mails were exchanged by our members, which included 1,650 people with intellectual disabilities and 1,766 peers who did not have an intellectual disability. The number of e-mails exchanged last year increased by nearly 10,000 from 2006, when our members sent and received 63,866, which was an increase of over 4,000 over the 59,106 e-mails sent in 2005.

I like checking the e-mail count because those e-mails are the essence of our program, each one a message to and from a friend.

What do those e-mails contain? Well, if they are like the ones my e-Buddy and I exchanged, lots of them were simple facts or stories of the day. We talked about the weather, work, what we ate, our plans for the weekend. Hidden within those seemingly mundane words, though, was the soul of our relationship – a belief in each other, a liking for each other's company via the written word, and the support of mutual respect and affection.

I suspect many of our member's e-mails look like nothing much to others. Yet, I believe it is in the sharing of the small details of our days that we connect with each other. My e-Buddy was especially good at pointing out when we agreed on something, whether it was that we both liked M&M's or who would win the SuperBowl. Bringing people together, teaching them to see beyond differences – that is how hearts connect, and that is the power of e-Buddies.


Letter from the Director | Ask Emerson | Best Buddies Spotlight
Conversation Starters | e-Buddies of the Month | e-Buddies in Action!
In Your Own Words | The State of e-Buddies | The e-Beat Archive