Best Buddies Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund
Last spring, Best Buddies launched its Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund to address the severe and unprecedented challenges posed globally by the coronavirus to Best Buddies – to our Buddies, our volunteers, our staff, and our families.
The Best Buddies Team has worked hard to make the difficult adjustments necessary to continue to support our Buddies and their families who are now more isolated and stressed than ever before. We are working to ensure the millions of individuals that participate in Best Buddies (young volunteers, our Buddies, and their families) are safe, supported, connected, and know what resources are available through Best Buddies and their local communities.
Buddies are Dying at Greater Rates
A recent New York Times article (Covid-19 Threatens People With Intellectual and Developmental Challenges – The New York Times) published an alarming statistic “People with intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders are three times more likely to die of Covid-19, compared with patients without the conditions” and four times as likely to contract the disease.
“With their education and treatments disrupted, there are many children with intellectual disability that cannot even begin to get any semblance of education… We’ve watched young children with developmental delays who are going backward, losing skills and seeing their progress stall. These are little kids in whom we’re trying to build developmental skills that will be with them for life.”
Addressing the Impact of Covid-19
People with special needs already experience tremendous isolation, neglect, and joblessness. Best Buddies is committed now more than ever to ensure that doesn’t happen and we continue to support our participants every step of the way.
COVID-19 has significantly changed the way in which Best Buddies delivers supports to thousands of participants. While the mode of program delivery has pivoted from in-person to virtual, the need remains urgent. Given the vulnerability of this population to the pandemic, remote resources are required to keep students engaged in their school community, equip employed participants with the tools need to get back to work quickly, and providing ongoing advocacy training sessions in a safe environment.
Due to lost revenue from established fundraising events throughout the country, Best Buddies has experienced a revenue decrease of over 35%. We have moved quickly to pivot programming and fundraising models to a virtual approach.
We have invoked a series of actions including:
- Regular staff and volunteer check-ins and group chats with participants via ZOOM to ensure social distancing (isolation) is not having an impact on their mental health and well-being;
- Ramping up our capabilities for more participants to join our e-Buddies online pen-pal program to stay connected with friends and join our online Best Buddies community for ongoing social interaction;
- Strengthening our social media platform so our high school and college chapters can stay together virtually as a team to reach out to their Buddies with messages of hope, friendship, and advice;
- Prepare our participants for new job opportunities through our pre-employment training program which has now gone virtual through ZOOM;
- Developing a strategic fundraising plan to limit the impact of this pandemic on our programming by going virtual with all of our social programming and fundraising — Leadership Conference, Friendship Walks, Champion Galas, and cycling events;
- Making significant expense cuts across the board, including severe staff cuts – a devastating event for our young team that has dedicated themselves to our special friends.
Help Our Buddies Meet the Covid-19 Challenge
Our Buddies are counting on us. Our supporters are dedicated. Our corporate and foundation partners are committed. And our event revenue will ultimately recover. But we need support now to continue providing critical programming to families and individuals with IDD that are counting on us.
Donate today to give Best Buddies the ability to execute existing programming virtually while funding stabilizes in the coming months. We don’t know what the future holds – but we do know that working as the Best Buddies team and family, we will weather this storm and come out stronger.