Etown Club Wins Best Buddies Pennsylvania Chapter of the Year
July 31, 2020   //   By:   //   Achievements, Campus & Community, Campus and Community, Real-world Learning

Elizabethtown College’s Best Buddies Club was named the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Year by Best Buddies Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Etown’s Best Buddies is a student organization made up of 41 students as well as several community members. Students serve as either Peer Buddies or Associate Members. Peer Buddies are matched one-on-one with an individual with an intellectual or developmental disability. They get together regularly each month, attend chapter-wide events, and contact each other weekly to build and maintain a long-lasting friendship. Associate members attend chapter-wide events and form bonds with all of the buddies. The chapter is led by co-presidents Jennifer Beihoff ’20, education, and Zoe Spadaro, ’20, occupational therapy.

“We had a lot of amazing group events this year,” said Beihoff and Spadaro. “We hosted a ‘Meet and Greet’ party that gave new members a chance to meet our buddies, and old ones a chance to catch up with one another. Among others, we participated in the Homecoming float decoration day and the Homecoming Parade. Both our college buddies and community buddies love riding and marching in the  parade each year. This year, the school’s homecoming float theme was “movies.” We chose Lilo and Stitch and stuck with the theme ‘Ohana means Family’ since our Best Buddies Chapter members are an extension of our families.”

The club also did not let the global coronavirus pandemic slow them down. They planned their first-ever Satellite Best Buddies Friendship Walk to take place in late April but with the campus shutdown, they pivoted to a virtual event. Club members shared “Why I Walk” in social media videos raising awareness for the organization and bringing together volunteers and buddies virtually.

Because of the abrupt end to the school year, the club wished to acknowledge the great work of its graduate students and seniors: Rebekah Bolton, ’20, M.S. occupational therapy, Liz Mazer ’20, M.S. occupational therapy, Natalie Capone, ’20 occupational therapy, Caity Howell ’20 early childhood education, Delaney Klepper ’20, occupational therapy, Maddie Tyrrell ’20, occupational therapy, Emily Frenz, ’20 occupational therapy, Ashleigh Denault, ’20 occupational therapy, Jennifer Beihoff ’20, education, and Zoe Spadaro, ’20, occupational therapy.

Etown Best Buddies welcomes anyone on campus who is interested and passionate about the inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and is made up of members across majors. In order to join, keep an eye out for them at the College Activities Fair or email bestbuddies@etown.edu. You can also follow their Instagram @etown_bestbuddies.

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