Buddies come out of the woodwork to help kids | AspenTimes.com

Buddies come out of the woodwork to help kids

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Big buddies are coming out of the woodwork since The Buddy Program publicized a critical shortage of mentors.

Cathy Fisher Grueter, program coordinator and case manager for the nonprofit’s Aspen office said that the program received several calls from adults interested in the mentoring program after a story appeared Monday in The Aspen Times.

The strong response will likely mean less local kids have to endure lengthy waiting lists.

The Buddy Program pairs adults and kids in mentorship relationships where they do activities together two or three times a month for at least a year. The kids referred to the program sometimes have a lack of supervision at home, are from abusive situations or from single-parent households.

“Our program is growing so much, especially downvalley we have so many referrals that we can’t keep up,” Fisher Grueter said. “That’s why we have a waiting list. But just this week we’ve had four or five calls to the downvalley office and three up in Aspen [from potential mentors] and that’s incredible. They calls usually don’t come in so steadily.”

There is still a large need for male volunteers, she said, and all of the kids on the Aspen office waiting lists are boys. Fisher Grueter said young boys who need female role models are sometimes paired with women, but as they get older they typically want men as big buddies.

Potential big buddies are interviewed by the program staff, and then background checks, letters of recommendation and training are required.

“[Getting kids off the waiting list] won’t happen right away, since we also have to find the best match between a child and a big buddy,” said Sole Lowe, program coordinator for The Buddy Program. “But we usually find it.”

The Buddy Program has been connecting screened and trained adult volunteer mentors with young people ages 5 to 18 from Aspen to El Jebel since 1973.

The program offers over 20 free activities during the year, including classes at The Cooking School of Aspen, art classes, hut trips and horseback riding. Buddies are eligible for all sorts of discounts all over town, Lowe said, including free admittance to the Snowmass Club or the Aspen Meadows, and discounts at many local restaurants.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]

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