Best Buddies Wisconsin’s Program Manager, Kate Slattery, opens up about the Best Buddies mission and how she’s witnessed and been a part of programs that develop lifelong friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
“It was a very empowering moment to see such young children with kind hearts, eager and ready to make a new friend.”
When did you first get involved with Best Buddies?
I first got involved with Best Buddies at Elmhurst College as a freshman in 2014.
What was your inspiration to become a Peer Buddy?
In college, Best Buddies was a big part of my story. Elmhurst College is a very strong community that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in various ways. In high school I volunteered as a coach for Special Olympics which ignited my passion for spending time with people with IDD. When I got to college, I specifically sought out organizations with a mission of helping people.Visiting the Best Buddies information booth at our campus activities fair was the beginning of a lifelong involvement with Best Buddies. Not only was I a peer buddy, I also held various leadership positions as well.
What inspired you to pursue a career with Best Buddies?
As my college’s chapter president, I spent a lot of time getting to know my Program Manager and the type of work she did with Best Buddies. Just when I thought I peaked as chapter president, I learned that I could actually make a career out of doing something I love!
Can you recall your most memorable experience at Best Buddies?
One of the most memorable experiences I have had so far is matching my first Citizens pair in June 2018.They are still matched and developing a strong friendship. I also recently visited an elementary school for
an information session and was blown away by the number of students that were eager to join Best Buddies. It was a very empowering moment to see such young children with kind hearts, eager and ready to make a new friend.
Why are education and support so important for communities?
It is always important to educate the community about the different kinds of resources that exist. By introducing Best Buddies into schools and the community, we are giving individuals an opportunity to make a difference and make their community more inclusive. The mission of Best Buddies is simple and genuine – to have a friend.
What does Best Buddies mean to you?
To me, Best Buddies has given me the opportunity to help people in various ways. As a student, I had the privilege of having a buddy, Diane, who I am still in contact with to this day. As chapter president, I helped match individuals in one-to-one friendships with the intention of growing lifelong friendships. Lastly, as a Program Manager, I am supporting our school chapters and spreading the mission of BestBuddies throughout the state of Wisconsin.
Why is it important for Alumni to reconnect with Best Buddies?
Through my first few months of working at Best Buddies Wisconsin, I have learned that there are so many ways that alumni can stay involved in the organization. Not only are there opportunities to volunteer at state events, but there are also opportunities to stay connected to the mission and have a
buddy through e-Buddies and the Citizens Program.