Best Buddies in California Newsletter: May 2021 May 4, 2021 | California News | Message Preview This May we have a lot to celebrate—the opening of three new School Friendship Chapters (Montgomery High School, Newport Harbor High School, and Shorecliffs Middle School) in April, ten new job placements between April and the start of May, the amazing mom’s involved in our programs, and the success of our Friendship Walks. As always, we invite you to celebrate with us, as all these wins help propel our mission forward! versión en español May 2021 This May we have a lot to celebrate—the opening of three new School Friendship Chapters (Montgomery High School, Newport Harbor High School, and Shorecliffs Middle School) in April, ten new job placements between April and the start of May, the amazing mom’s involved in our programs, and the success of our Friendship Walks. As always, we invite you to celebrate with us, as all these wins help propel our mission forward! What Advocacy Means to Me Richard Nakai: Best Buddies Global Ambassador, California “My Name is Tsukasa Richard Nakai, or simply Richard, and I am a Global Ambassador and Employee for Best Buddies. Throughout my life, I have been told I was inspiring and that I should become a leader for people like myself because I am passionate about advocating for the neurodiverse community. To me, being an advocate means being a voice for those who do not have any and empowering those who do. Why is this important? Sometimes people in the neurodiverse community can’t speak up for what they need, or when they do, they are ignored or dismissed. It is important for people who can speak up to use their voice in order to help this community be heard. Being an advocate means that I can help those fearful of using their own voice see that they are capable of speaking up for what is right and what is wrong. I am passionate about being an advocate because growing up I always had lots of people empowering me and teaching me how to speak up for myself. I want to be able to do that for others. I am forever grateful to be a part of a wonderful organization like Best Buddies that allows me to combine my passions of advocacy and making the world a better place. I have done so many things that I never thought were possible, and I want to help others like be me achieve their dreams too!” We love our Volunteers! Meet Megan: School Volunteer in the Bay Area 1. How has Best Buddies impacted your life? Best Buddies has completely opened my eyes to a whole population of people with who I may not have connected with because of the social barriers present in today’s society, and I have created so many lifetime friendships as a result. 2. Describe your current and previous involvement with Best Buddies? I joined my local chapter as a freshman just looking to make friends and not really knowing what Best Buddies was! After growing some passion for the Best Buddies mission, I was the Friendship Walk Coordinator during sophomore year, co-Vice President junior year and now as a senior, I am the Chapter President at my school. 3. What is your favorite Best Buddies memory? My favorite Best Buddies memory was during my sophomore year, where a group of my fellow club members and I attended the Friendship Walk in San Francisco because it was so much fun to connect to other schools and spend a day in the city with my friends! 4. Why is inclusion important to you? Inclusion is important to me because I believe everyone has something unique to contribute to the world, and society is too quick to dismiss so many creative, strong, funny, and kind people because they don’t deem them as “the norm.” 5. What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering with Best Buddies? Getting involved with Best Buddies is one of the most rewarding, educational, and fun things you can do, and I couldn’t recommend getting involved with this organization enough! Friendship Walk Our 2021 Friendship Walk was a HUGE success thanks to YOU! Together, we raised $332,178 across our four California Walks. The dollars raised will allow us to open more school chapters to foster more inclusive friendships, place adults with IDD in meaningful jobs, and build up leaders and advocates in our communities. Thank you to everyone who walked, donated, and celebrated with us throughout this Friendship Walk season. We look forward to next year’s Walks! Volunteer with Best Buddies Love the mission and want to get more involved? There are lots of ways to be a part of Best Buddies in California! Reach out to our staff so we can get you plugged in. Northern California | Stefanie Taylor: email@example.com Central Valley | Haley Hatai: firstname.lastname@example.org Southern California | Sarah Won: email@example.com To receive the latest Best Buddies news and announcements, click here. Tags: California News 6 Share You also might be interested in Best Buddies in California Newsletter: August 2021 Aug 2, 2021 A Summer of Best Buddies Best Buddies in California Newsletter: January 2022 Jan 20, 2022 Let's make 2022 our BEST year yet! Best Buddies in San Francisco Sponsor Feature Mar 30, 2022 Thank you, Waymo, for helping us make the world a more inclusive place!