By PSS | Posted: Tuesday November 28, 2017
Dorothy* is a grandmother who lives alone. Sam* is a 9-year-old boy. While the pair are an unlikely duo, through the Buddy Programme, coordinated by Family Works, the two have formed a powerful alliance.
Not only are they firm friends – spending every Tuesday afternoon together taking part in a range of activities, or simply hanging out – they are having a hugely positive impact on each other’s lives.
The Buddy Programme matches adult volunteers with children in the community who could use extra adult support in their lives.
Dorothy was matched with Sam three and a half years ago and the transformation in the youngster over that time has been dramatic, she says.
“He was very, very shy and didn’t want to talk about school or home… but now, well, he loves me! He has learnt such good manners, he respects me, and I just so enjoy his company,” Dorothy says.
“When we first met we would sometimes go out to a local park, and he was too scared to go on the flying fox, but now his confidence has improved so much that he really enjoys it, he gives it a go.”
“I love to help, and seeing what he has achieved is such a reward.”
Sam comes from a difficult family situation and while Dorothy initially found that hard, she has since called on her teaching background to help Sam to learn key life skills.
“Every family is different and they all lead their own lives, but I think with a programme like this, for kids just to see another family or person’s life and what that looks like, well it opens their eyes a bit.”
“Basically, we do what he wants. Sometimes we will do puzzles, sometimes we will go to the river and throw stones, sometimes we’ll have a treat and go to McDonalds. He just needs that one-on-one time, it’s really precious to him and it’s really precious to me.”
“He really is amazing.”
To anyone considering becoming a Big Buddy, Dorothy has this to say:
“There are so many children out there that need support. It’s only a couple of hours a week, but that time is so precious and makes a big difference.”
“We need more Big Buddies and it’s nice to give something back and it is very rewarding.”
*Names have been changes for privacy reasons
The Buddy Programme operates in Gore, Invercargill and Queenstown and there is a constant need for more Big Buddies.
CLICK HERE to find out more about the Buddy Programme and how you may be able to help