Best Buddies Changes Application Process

Members+Peter+Giffords+and+Julia+Kaner+at+the+Best+Buddies+Ball

Julian Clarke

Members Peter Giffords and Julia Kaner at the Best Buddies Ball

The hallway outside the cafeteria bustles as herds of students collect around tables cluttered with posters, sign-up sheets and, of course, candy. It’s Club Rush, and students are eager to put down their names for after-school activities. However, those who wish to participate in Best Buddies have to provide more than just their names and email addresses. Instead, interested students are met with a stack of application forms.

Next year, Best Buddies is changing their application process. According to faculty advisor Patty McQuone, Best Buddies is a volunteer organization that is dedicated to creating one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In previous years, Best Buddies followed the same process as other school clubs by allowing everyone interested to be a part of the organization. However, according to Beth Lester ’13 this year’s president of Staples chapter of Best Buddies, it is time for a change.

“As the club has grown, we’ve noticed that there are a lot of people who join but don’t follow through on their responsibilities. Best Buddies deals with people first hand, so it’s better for us, as well as for the buddies, to have a few dedicated members as opposed to a large number of unengaged members,” Lester said.

According to next year’s president of the Staples Chapter of Best Buddies, Victoria Pappas ’15, the club usually starts with about 200 members, and then goes down to 30 or 40 members by the end of the year. Due to this problem, McQuone and Special Education Advisor Deb Gallon decided to limit membership.

“We feel that the large crowd at our meetings and some events causes anxiety for some of our buddies, and we feel bad about that and want them to be relaxed,” McQuone said.

The new process involves a brief application where students must list all their extracurricular activities and their usual availability. Students who were part of the club last year must reapply and are not necessarily guaranteed a spot. Once all applications are turned in, McQuone and Gallon will review each application and choose the applicants they feel will be able to give the most energy to the club. In addition, McQuone says that they will have a three-strike policy for admitted students who do not display enough commitment.

“We may find that we won’t have many students apply. That is the purpose of this new process-to weed out those who are in it for the right reason and not for college applications like so many have already done,” McQuone said. “We will not give into that anymore.”

Gea Mitas ’14, a current member of Best Buddies, says that the new application process will upset people because it will lessen their chances of joining the club.

However, Pappas says that she believes the new application process will be extremely beneficial.

“Having a small group allows us to really get to know each other and see the same people every week. The friendships built will probably be a lot stronger, which is what our club is all about,” Pappas said. “We aren’t trying to make the club hard to get into at all. We just want to make sure that everyone who is in the club is dedicated.”

Currently, Best Buddies meets every Tuesday from 2:15 to 3 p.m., and has a bake sale the second Tuesday of every month.