When the COVID-119 pandemic forced the closure of the Loras College campus in March, the impact effected more than just students, faculty and staff. The Du-Buddies organization was no longer able to get together each month, leaving students and their buddies from getting together.
The physical separation did not keep the students and their buddies from staying connected and maintaining strong bonds,
Du-Buddies eboard created a Facebook group called ‘Du-Buddies Stay Connected,'” Du-Buddies President Anna Folliard (’20) explained. “We invited all of our members, buddies, caregivers, and families to join. From March until the end of the school year, we had different themes, activities, and challenges each week to engage our members.”
Students have reached out individually with their buddies by mailing out care packages that include coloring pages, stickers and letters to the Buddies that thank them for a great year and to announce the new e-board members.
Folliard added, “We are looking forward to the day that we can all be reunited; it will be a big celebration!”
Du-Buddies is a student-led organization that focuses on inclusion and celebrating the dignity of all humans. The organization pairs students with adults with disabilities that live in the Tri-State area since 2011. Du-Buddies hold monthly activities that focus on creating real friendships that help build networks and self-confidence for aging out of the K-12 education system. These events range from social gatherings, holiday-themed parties, and awareness campaign events.
Buddies from Dubuque are referred to this Loras student organization from multiple non-profit partner organizations that serve people with disabilities in Dubuque, including Hills & Dales, ARK Advocates and Area Residential Care.
“[We] challenge ourselves, in partnership with the larger community of Dubuque, to learn more about a social issue and then act together to bring about social justice through serving, [that] is consistent with our College mission and exhibited by the dedication Duhawks strive to show to one another, their community and fellow human beings each day at Loras,” service learning coordinator Maggie Baker said.
The adjustment to the pandemic is the latest element in a busy year for Du-Buddies. In October, Archbishop of Dubuque Michael Jackels presented the organization with the “All are Welcome Exclusivity Award” from the Archdiocese of Dubuque during lunch on the Loras campus.
Du-Buddies means so much to its members and buddies. The organization makes a lasting impact on everyone involved.
“I look forward to the Du-Buddies events every month. It is evident that Loras is a service-oriented community. All of our members have helped make Du-Buddies special. My favorite part about Du-Buddies is being able to watch friendships grow among all of our members,” Folliard said.