Bank of America Citizens Program
In 2010, Krista Scott became involved in the Best Buddies program within Bank of America and was matched with her buddy, Debbie Kohler. Over the first few years, as the program has grown, Krista was able to recruit more of her coworkers and soon had 14 buddy pairs join. As of today, they are extremely honored to say that there are 72 buddy pairs!
In 2013, Krista was having lunch with Danielle Williams and they began talking about Best Buddies. Even though Krista explained what the program was about, she felt that Danielle needed to see it first-hand, so she invited her to take a walk through the Support Services department to meet a few of the folks on the waiting list. Danielle instantly had a connection with Margaret McGhie and knew in her heart she had to be a part of this amazing organization. Not only did she immediately join, but she also became Krista’s right-hand partner in crime. From that moment on, she was in for the long haul.
Once Krista had the support from Danielle, they became thick as thieves and took on the entire Bank of America chapter as liaisons between the bank and Best Buddies. At that time, it made the most sense to bring the entire process in-house to be managed internally at the bank. From the initial interview to executing events to finding the perfect match, they do it all. Krista and Danielle both have full-time marketing jobs, however, this is their true calling in life.
The Best Buddies Citizens program matches adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in one-to-one friendships with adults without IDD from the community. By spending time with one another, the lives of both individuals are enhanced through a mutually enriching friendship. The Citizens program is essential in providing social opportunities for adults with IDD, who are often isolated and have little opportunity to interact with their adult peers. The Citizens program started as a community model where matches were made between two individuals based on age, personality, and interests, as well as proximity. The program has since grown to include opportunities for companies to get involved in a group setting.
One-to-one friendships are created between a buddy (an adult volunteer with IDD) and a peer buddy (an adult volunteer from a company without IDD). In addition to the one-to-one friendships, Citizens chapters hold regular group activities and volunteers play a larger role in creating and supporting matches.
In Bank of America’s case, this dynamic duo (Krista and Danielle) plans and executes every single event from beginning to end within Bank of America’s Citizens program. These events have included: movie nights, bowling, miniature golf, lunch at the local mall, bingo, and an annual Fallfest event which hosts over 150 people. The Fallfest includes recognition, a catered lunch, volunteer activities to benefit other non-profit organizations and fun games.
In 2019, they created and hosted “THE VOICE” event which was their best event yet – red carpet, TMZ reporters, live judges, you name it, they had it! The winner of “The Voice” got the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the Friendship Walk that year in front of a huge crowd! Volunteering is very important to Bank of America and without the flexibility and volunteer support, their chapter would not be as successful as they are. Bank of America’s chapter is both the largest in Delaware and the largest chapter nationally in the Best Buddies organization.
As a result of the collaborative efforts, they were able to donate $12,000 last year, all from volunteer efforts – something they are extremely proud of. Krista and Danielle’s dedication has built a very successful program and in 2019, they were invited to attend the Best Buddies Leadership Conference in 2019 and present their best-demonstrated practices to other companies that are looking to expand their Best Buddies chapter.
Krista and Danielle are so passionate about the program, they put their heart and soul into everything they do to grow and make this program fun for their participants. This year, Krista and her buddy Debbie are happy to announce they are celebrating their 10th buddy anniversary, and Danielle and Margaret are celebrating their 7th buddy anniversary! Both Debbie and Margaret have become a huge part of their families!
If you would like to get more information about the Bank of America Citizens program or would like to get involved, please contact Danielle Williams: firstname.lastname@example.org and Krista Scott: email@example.com.