Best Buddies, Saint Joseph College (SJC) Chapter is an active club with slightly more than 20 members. The mission of Best Buddies, SJC is to provide an opportunity for college students to be matched in a one-to-one friendship with individuals who have intellectual disabilities. By becoming a college buddy, students befriend someone with a developmental disability, but also learn about themselves in the process. In addition, the SJC chapter helps to educate the college and larger community about individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities.
The Fall 2001/Spring 2002 semester was a transition period for the SJC chapter of Best Buddies but in the Fall of 2002 each member completed more than 30 hours of community service. In October 2002, members of Best Buddies helped to organize a large Halloween Party for students at the Gengras Center, a unique special education program for elementary, middle and high school students from around the state with intellectual, developmental, learning disabilities, and related behavioral challenges. Volunteers organized the entire event from start to finish, including decorations, games, music and food.
In November, Best Buddies members volunteered and used the SJC campus as a donation site for the United Way’s Button-up Connecticut coat drive, collecting more than 70 coats. In addition, Best Buddies volunteered and sponsored a “Book Blowout” which collected more than 840 books to support a number of literacy foundations in Hartford, including the Catholic Worker House, Mercy Housing and Shelter, HARC and Trust House. While planning these volunteer projects, the members still meet weekly with their buddies and hosted monthly group outings, such as pumpkin painting and bowling. In the spring semester, Best Buddies plans to sponsor Project Wheelchair to raise awareness about accessibility. The group has also arranged to host the Best Buddies Connecticut Annual Fair, on the SJC campus.
The SJC Chapter of Best Buddies continues to carry out their organizational mission, going a step beyond by taking the time to educate others about individuals with intellectual disabilities and volunteering within the community.