Best Buddies

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The State of e-Buddies

By Lisa Marlene Derx

E-mails exchanged by e-Buddies are more than words on a screen -they are feelings, connections, expressions of friendship and interest. Some e-mails may seem mundane, relaying details of the weather, or what one had for breakfast, or the chores done over the weekend. Yet, each question asked by one person and answered by another forges or deepens a relationship.

In July 2002, Best Buddies began using software developed by AOL and The National Mentoring Partnership to enhance the security of our program. Known as a double-blind e-mail system, this removed any need for sharing real e-mail addresses between members. We were also able to add filters to prevent certain words or terms from travelling through the system. It also allowed us to retain a copy of every e-mail exchanged. Although we don't routinely review the e-mails, we do in cases of a stop in communication or a reported problem.

Another plus of this software is that we knew, for the first time, which participants were actually e-mailing. We keep a daily count of how many e-mails are exchanged, which helps us verify the impact of our program to funders. Teachers often print out these e-mails to show parents the progress their students are making over the course of the school year, which is particularly useful for documenting progress during IEP goals.

In 2008, 3,029 members exchanged 58,611 e-mails. This was an increase of e-mails exchanged, despite the fact that the number of active members declined from 2007. I read this as a positive, showing that people with intellectual disabilities are becoming better-versed in the use of e-mail.

January, March, and October have consistently proven to be the months with the highest amount of e-mail traffic. A typical week sees over 1,000 e-mails exchanged through e-Buddies. The busiest day of the week? Monday. Least busiest? Saturday. Busiest day ever? February 4, 2008, when 349 messages were sent and delivered.

The one that means the most, of course, is the one you get from your e-Buddies. Numbers can't quantify your feelings when you send or receive an e-mail, but your heart can tell you that an e-Buddies friendship brings immeasurable joy.

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