The Buddy Project: The Little Things

By Elizabeth Miller

042 smallIt’s always been about the little things.

Did I send out a second email to remind the buddies of our next event? Will someone be able to help me set up tables and chairs beforehand? Where can I buy a tarp for tie-dying shirts? I have always felt a bit nervous before each Buddy Project event since I started interning for the program the beginning of this spring semester. I just wanted everything to go exactly as planned, but the one thing I learned about leading an initiative like the Buddy Project is that nothing ever goes as you plan. Whether one small but crucial detail slips your mind or something unexpected comes up during an event you have to learn to improvise.

DSC_0035 smallAnd while planning for events, remembering all of the bits and pieces, and leading has become more natural for me with time and practice, the buddies willingness to help in any way they can to make it all happen, has been a clear constant in the program. At our Lasagna Dinner, everyone stayed back to fold up the chairs and tables, some an extra forty minutes. At our Karaoke and Craft event a number of members volunteered to stay after to wipe up glue and glitter from the tables and to organize the extra craft materials neatly into boxes.

And at our last event I asked if members would be willing to come early to help set up for the shirt tie-dying and the Egg Hunt. Expecting just one person to come early, of course three came instead. The eggs were hidden. The shirts lay out. We were ready to go in the nick of time and more buddies arrived. First, we had the hunt in which one Whitman student reported back to me about the hilarity of the hunt. Apparently his buddy, a lover of all things chocolate, had his eye on a yellow egg when suddenly it was snatched up. His arms rose up in anger, which is surprising because he is not a very expressive sort of guy. Apparently, candy has the power to change a person. I am quite familiar with this myself. But the tension soon dissipated as he came across a blue egg and soon the pair moved on to the t-shirts. Dye was everywhere. So far, so good. Then, the first couple of dye bottles began running out of juice. “Can I help you refill those?” What a Godsend. Gabriela Kaus grabbed five bottles, rushed to fill them with water, and returned with her hands stained brown. “Is there anything we can do to help clean up?” Katy Crestol and Kuba Jeffers then cleaned the dye-stained bathroom sinks and dye-stained tarps and soon I stood with a large neatly organized box of the materials. The buddies had already said their goodbyes and the thank yous I received from community buddies warmed my heart. Four community members came up excitedly talking about their shirts contemplating how the colors would turn. And while each of them thanked me I thought that they should really be thanking their buddies whose support has been inspiring to me since began working as the intern. I truly appreciate their help and their devotion to the program, which goes beyond our scheduled events and into the homes of community members families or out onto Ankeny field to throw a frisbee around or downtown to grab hot chocolate. Their devotion is another clear constant and they make me love my job.

The little things make the biggest difference.

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Learn more about the Buddy Project (now Buddy Program).

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