In January 2016, Best Buddies in Missouri became the 26th state office as a result of a dedicated group of expansion board members volunteering to cultivate community relationships to move the Best Buddies International mission forward. It is from their passion and commitment that a strong foundation of supporters are actively building awareness about the social inclusion movement across our great state.
Long before I began my journey as State Director, it was evident the need for meaningful, peer-to-peer relationships was ever growing in Missouri. Spending several years working for a charity that serves people with Down syndrome, it was disheartening to listen to parents of or a person with Down syndrome share their worries about finding a true friend. Someone to count on. Someone to lift them up in times of need or to celebrate a success with. Even more, someone to just accept them for who they are…that is not a family member.
These families, among many others I continue to meet, inspire me to lead our team to successfully implement our peer-to-peer social inclusion programs between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Social interaction is vital for an individual’s well-being, but even more so, I believe friendship is what truly feeds one’s soul. My friends and I rely on each other. We candidly share our deepest darkest secrets and know we will never be judged by the other for simply being who we are. That to me is the greatest gift friendship brings to a person; the ability to be one’s true self without fear of judgment.
We are just scratching the surface for Missouri’s ability to truly propel the social inclusion movement forward. We recently welcomed a program manager to our team, and are working towards launching several new One-to-One Friendship and Promoters chapters in 2016.
It is with the continued commitment and support from our extraordinary advisory board members, community partners, volunteers, and donors that Best Buddies in Missouri will achieve its goals. We have big plans for Best Buddies Missouri. Join your fellow Missourians in support of the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities today.