Best Buddies in Philippines Featured on Kada Umaga
Makati City, Philippines, Jan. 24, 2024 — Clarence Cruz is a jack-of-all-trades.
He graduated as the salutatorian from Ateneo de Zamboanga University. He acts and is a production assistant at a local theater, sings on his YouTube channel, captures award-winning photographs and works at the Philippines office of Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for friendship, employment, leadership development and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), where he also represents the organization as an Ambassador.
The latter two roles are the most important to him, as Best Buddies helps enrich the lives of people like Clarence, who was diagnosed with autism at five.
“[Best Buddies has helped me] in terms of learning new skills, practicing public speaking and making friends with others,” Clarence said in his interview with Kada Umaga. “Friendships help people with IDD in expressing ourselves [and] fulfilling our dreams.”
Clarence has worked for Best Buddies in Philippines since July of 2023, where he compiles reports for sponsors and donors, organizes documents, manages the office’s social media page and hosts online events.
“Clarence has an incredible way of connecting with others,” Romaine Gonalzes, who manages operations at Best Buddies in the Philippines, said. “He is a great representation of the Best Buddies mission and is a great reminder of the value of gratitude and humility in one’s endeavors.”
Clarence has also represented Best Buddies in Philippines as an Ambassador since 2022, where he has shared his story at events like World Autism Day, the Persons with Disabilities Awareness Fair and the Disability Expo.
“I admire Clarence for being independent and smart,” Cathy Cham, a program manager for Best Buddies in the Philippines, said. “Best Buddies in the Philippines is proud to have someone like Clarence representing the organization as both an advocate for and a living example of inclusion.”
To learn more about Clarence’s story, watch his full interview here.
About Best Buddies
Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to nearly 3,000 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies’ 11 formal programs — Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies®, Jobs, Ambassadors, Promoters, Transitions and Inclusive Living— engage participants in each of the 50 states and in 49 countries, positively impacting the lives of nearly one million people with and without disabilities around the world. In many cases, as a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit www.bestbuddies.org or connect with us via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
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