Meadville Tribune

Local News

April 7, 2014

Arc, Allegheny College team up with Best Buddies program

MEADVILLE — Allegheny College students serve as friends and mentors to area residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities through the Best Buddies program in cooperation with the Arc of Crawford, Warren and Forest counties.

The several-year-old program “strives to encourage one to one relationships between college students and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” according to Joey Phelps, an Allegheny student who serves as president of the program.

The most important aspect of the program and what makes it successful is the matching process. Phelps said that “the matchings are supposed to be mutually enriching.” What makes this matching process unique is that it emphasizes the importance of friendship.

The matching process starts out with a survey filled out by both the student and the buddy. The survey is intended to match the buddies with a student who has similar interests and schedules. They process the survey results through a computer system that allows them to see who is the best fit for who. Once they are matched, in the beginning of the fall semester they have a matching party. Phelps says “at the matching party they get to know each other better and hang out.”

There is a one-year commitment to the program and during this time the buddy and student are doing activities and talking on the phone at least four times each month. The activities vary from bowling days to movie nights, and to top it all off the Best Buddies program hosts a picnic at Robertson Field at the end of the year. Prosperous friendships have derived from the Best Buddies program.

Sierra Flanagan, a freshman at Allegheny, was matched with her Buddy, Barb Hopkins, at the beginning of the fall semester.

“We were matched because we have a lot in common,” Flanagan said. “We both love watching movies and we both love the same foods.”

The Best Buddies program has paved way for many enriching matches that grow into friendships, and it appears this match is headed in that direction.

“It always warms my heart when I spend time with Barb,” Flanagan said.

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