“Bayli will always be my buddy, even when he’s 30 years old,” says Adrienne. Bayli smiles.
For North Otago Buddy Programme Co-ordinator Christine Moffat, that positive interaction between a volunteer and her Young Buddy summed up the mentoring programme perfectly.
“To hear Bayli and his Adult Buddy, Adrienne, reminisce about their nine years together in the programme, brought home to me the impact a volunteer has in preparing a child for the future,” Christine says.
Bayli’s mother is equally impressed, saying Adrienne’s reliability and her ability to introduce him to new people and places has been “life-changing.”
Now Bayli is 17 years of age the formal buddy relationship ends, but it’s a friendship both he and Adrienne believe will continue long into the future.
“Looking back I can see just how important it is to have someone to talk to. I remember people thinking our relationship wouldn’t last long and that as a boy I would be better with a male buddy, but I didn’t mind. Adrienne’s definitely taught me to be more confident, and now I feel much better when interacting with different people,” says Bayli.
The pair encourages people throughout Otago to become a buddy to a local child. Currently Buddy coordinators have over 50 children waiting for a Buddy; Oamaru with the longest list of 21 children.
Adult Buddies are quick to mention just how much they enjoy the connection.
“We’ve had an excellent time together. We’ve chatted away while picking buckets of daffodils to give local rest homes, screamed our way around a roller coaster, and Bayli even helped me host Iona residents when they visited my garden,” says Adrienne. “I’ve seem him grow into a helpful and considerate young man who interacts well with others.
“Being an Adult Buddy is not difficult. It’s only a two-hour commitment each week, and if I want to go away for a weekend I do. At other times I continue during the school holidays. Others may do it differently, but in essence you make it work for you and your circumstances", she adds.
If you want to make a positive difference in a child’s life, consider becoming an Adult Buddy. Call Michelle Gerwitz on 03 477 7115 or register online.