After 10 years, the partnership between Best Buddies and Weber State University Center for Community Engaged Learning will discontinue at the end of the fall 2017 semester due to a cutback on funding.
Best Buddies is an international organization that creates volunteer opportunities and friendships that can last for a lifetime with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The last event of the partnership will be on Dec. 15 at the Shepherd Union Ballrooms from 7-10 pm. WSUSA Service Team Best Buddies Chair Savanna Shaw said that it will be a dancing event to celebrate the final event for the organization.
Traditionally, volunteers are paired with a Best Buddy after going to every event hosted by Weber State and Best Buddies, where they can start engaging in friendly activities such as going to the movies or having a game night. The community partner earned the Bedrock Award two years ago for their long partnership with the university.
Shaw claims the funding revision has not only affected Weber but the entire state of Utah.
“Utah has the most Best Buddies activities, and now the partnerships they have with schools and universities will be cut to five (schools) after this semester,” said Shaw.
The Center for Community Engaged Learning Assistant Director Mike Moon said the partnership’s end is unfortunate. It will only leave one partner that will engage in volunteer services with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities special needs: Special Olympics.
According to Moon, it is also uncommon for community partners to leave Weber State.
“It’s not often that a partnership leaves. When they do it is because of either the lack of support for their infrastructure or the constant communication with a Service Team Chair Member,” said Moon.
With Best Buddies leaving Weber, it could open up another chair position for the WSUSA Service Team. Moon said gaining a new community partner may not fill the new position but maybe a Davis Representative Chair.
If a chair isn’t opened up, the funds for the chair can be directed for other needs in the CCEL for the next semester.
This also affects the estimated 200 volunteers who volunteer for Best Buddies because they will have to find other ways to obtain volunteer hours to work with the similar organizations.
WSU Freshman Volunteer Isabela Alvarado attended all the programs Best Buddies held with Weber, such as Gym Time and the Bingo Night. She said each of these events were meaningful for her, and she is upset after knowing that Best Buddies will no longer be a part of the university after this semester.
“Getting to know the Best Buddies was awesome and impactful because I get to learn about them just like I would with my other friends,” said Alvarado. “It’s sad knowing that I was very close to getting paired with a buddy, and I won’t get that chance for next semester and maybe a long time.”