Kudos and Kindness from Aspen Times readers (Jan. 21, 2018)

You, too, can be a Buddy

I’m writing in support of The Buddy Program and to tell your readers why it is so important to the children of our community. I know firsthand the value of mentoring — as my career as a teacher began when a family friend invited me to assist in her classroom when I was a senior in high school. Over the past 15 years, mentors have been crucial to my success as a teacher every step of the way. Today, I serve on the board of The Buddy Program and as a mentor myself to young teachers in training at Aspen Country Day School.

The Buddy Program offers a path for children to reach their full potential by offering a support network of adults in addition to their parents and their teachers. Through the program, Big Buddies serve as role models, friends and confidants. The Buddy Program offers opportunities for new experiences that help Little Buddies build competence, life skills and self-confidence. Through their mentorship, Big Buddies encourage a commitment to learning, positive values and constructive use of time. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!

Our buddy pair relationships last 4.6 years on average, more than twice the national average of 23 months! Please join me from 5 to 7 p.m., Jan. 31, at Maker + Place (next door to Mezzaluna) to learn more about how you can become a Big Buddy and make an indelible and positive impact on the children in our community.

Alexandra Hughes


Gratitude from Aspen Education Foundation

This year’s Flamingo event was an overwhelming success thanks to the support of individuals and organizations in our amazing community. We simply couldn’t provide funding for a purposeful, enriching educational experience for our kids without your contributions and continuous support. Our strong school system reflects the values and commitments of local residents who believe in the importance of education. Your investment in our schools is an investment in Aspen, and that is something you can feel good about.

I look forward to a time when government can show commitment to children and education through adequate, dependable support for every district, every teacher and every child in our nation. Until then, we rely on your support. On behalf of the AEF board of directors, we would like to express immense gratitude for your dedication to making education a priority year after year.

Brooke Bedingfield

Executive director, Aspen Education Foundation

Top-notch pharmacy

The City Market pharmacy has been fabulous this flu season. They are knowledgeable and extremely helpful in finding the best over-the-counter medication for your needs. I, for one, thank you.

Ruth Harrison


The Aspen Thrift Shop giveth

Every month volunteers of the Aspen Thrift Shop meet to continue to accomplish our mission: to make grants to nonprofit organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley. We are grateful to community members who continue to support our efforts by donating and purchasing gently used clothing and household items. For the month of January we are pleased to announce the following recipients: Rock and Roll Academy, Aspen Homeless Shelter, Alfred A. Braun Hut System, Wildwood School, Your Friends for Life, Aspen Noise, Empty Bowls, Family Resource Center for the RFSD, Aspen Middle School (microscopes).

The ladies of the Aspen Thrift Shop

A special toast to the Thrift Shop

Happy new year! I’d like to make a toast to all of the volunteers and the board at the Aspen Thrift Shop! For over 28 years, the Thrift Shop has helped our Special Olympics athletes by awarding Special Olympics Colorado-Roaring Fork Valley grant money!

We appreciate it each and every year and feel they need the recognition that goes with being so generous. It’s refreshing to know that the Thrift Shop continues to support nonprofit organizations and helps them meet their goals and achieve their mission statements.

The volunteers at the Thrift Shop make this donation possible with all of their hard work. On behalf of our athletes, coaches and families in the Roaring Fork Valley, thank you!

Julie Fite

Western regional manager, Special Olympics Colorado

Buddying up never felt so good

I almost said “no.”

It will be 11 years in May when the Buddy Program contacted me asking if I would like to mentor a little girl with special needs. I almost said “no.” I had taken a hiatus from Aspen and one of the places I landed was Washington, D.C. While there, on days off from my regular job, I substitute-taught mostly in special-education classes. So I was aware of the challenges involved and didn’t know if I was up for it.

What a mistake that would have been!

The child who is now almost 21 is one of the most amazing, charming, determined individuals I know.

When I first applied to the Buddy Program, my thoughts were on what I could give to someone else. I didn’t consider what I would learn from this endeavor … how much joy it would give me to watch my buddy, who has developmental challenges, develop into an independent adult. From a child who was afraid to let me out of her sight, she now tells me she is confident enough to take the bus by herself. It’s not what I give, but what I get — the happiness of sharing, the smiles and the hugs.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the program, I urge you to think about sharing some of your time with a child. My experience was different from the typical Buddy relationship as my buddy had developmental challenges, which is not the norm within the program. Although most Buddy Program youth do not present with special needs, they do experience a range of social, emotional family and/or academic challenges. A Buddy Program case manager supports each child, family and Big Buddy so if you have any questions or problems, there is always someone there to hear and help you with your concerns.

My buddy ages out of the program this year. We will both miss all the fun we have had over the years — the skiing, the bowling, the movies, the ballet, and my favorite, gingerbread-house decorating for the holidays. I could go on. But instead, why don’t you call the Buddy Program and become a buddy? I promise you, it will fill your life in ways you never planned.

Susan Bernard

Aspen, Big Buddy since 2007