The Lunch Buddy program has gotten off to a great start this Fall! We currently have 55 Lunch Buddy mentors either already out meeting with their Buddies or in the process of being screened, trained and introduced to their new Buddy. Last year we started with 36 adults and ended the year with 73 matches. It is very exciting to think of just how many students we can help again this year if we are able to double our numbers from the beginning of the year to the end, like we did last year.
Currently there are Lunch Buddy mentors in 15 different North Clackamas Elementary schools.
This school year we have placed well over 70 Lunch Buddy mentors with young students in 15 different North Clackamas elementary schools. These pairs spend lunch and lunch recess together first eating then playing outside, doing a craft project, reading or playing a quiet game.
One school principal recently said, "The students who are lucky enough to have a Lunch Buddy greatly benefit from the relationship they develop with a caring adult mentor. It is a joy to see the faces of our students light up when their Buddy arrives for lunch, often bringing with them a craft project or game to complete with their student. Some of these relationships last throughout the students' elementary school experience, and by the end of that journey, the Buddy is really more like family. Our students learn and grow from the guidance, patience and focused attention of these caring volunteers. We couldn't ask for better relationships, we would only ask for more volunteers, as we have a very long waiting list of students who are hoping to be partnered up soon!"
At this point in the year we are busy planning our end of the year celebration where Lunch Buddies say good bye for the summer or permanently if the student is moving on to middle school next Fall.
We are accepting applications for the 2013-2014 school year.
January 2013 has brought a renewed interest in volunteering. We started the year with several new potential Lunch Buddy volunteers and are hoping to gain even more interested adults with the publication of articles in the Milwaukie Pilot newsletter and the Happy Valley newsletter about the great work our program does in our community.
We are currently serving 65 children in 15 different North Clackamas elementary schools. There are children on waiting lists in every school so we are hoping to reach at least 85-90 volunteers by the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
A Principal at one of the schools we serve recently said, "the studens at our school that are lucky enough to have a Lunch Buddy benefit greatly from the relationship they develop with a caring adult mentor. It is a joy to see the faces of our studens light up when their Buddy arrives for lunch, often bringing with them a craft project, or game to complete with their student. Some of these relationships last throughout the student's elementary school experience, and by the end of that journey, the buddy is really more like family. Our studens learn ad grow from the guidance, patience and focused attention of these caring volunteers. We couldn't ask for better relationships, we would only ask for more volunteers, as we have a very long wiating list of studens who are hoping to be partnered up soon!"
This is the 20th year of the North Clackamas Lunch Buddy program and we have hit the school year running! We had very few adult Buddies leave the program after last school year and we've gotten all of the remaining adult Buddies rematched either with their previous Buddy or a new one. We also have 17 new adults in various stages of being screened and trained to be Lunch Buddy mentors. We have Lunch Buddies meeting in 14 elementary schools and 1 middle school in North Clackamas.
An exciting trend this Fall is that the majority of our new adult mentors are men. They are being matched up with boys around the district, many of whom have been in need of extra support since last school year. Both the adults and the children seem to be thrilled with their new friend. Seeing the look on a child's face when they meet their new Buddy for the first time is typically priceless. Children are so excited to have one-on-one support and attention from a caring, consistent adult. The adults have seemed equally enthralled with this new young person who is soaking up their attention and reminding them what it is like to be a kid again.
There are children at every elementary school that could benefit from a positive adult in their lives. Not only are we always seeking additional adult mentors but we are a privately funded program that contracts with the North Clackamas School District. The number of children we can serve each year is limited to the amount of money we are able to raise to keep this very worthy program going.
The North Clackamas Lunch Buddy Program enjoyed another successful year for the 2011-2012 school year. We had 82 Lunch Buddy matches this year and that was with one less grade (6th) than we had the previous school year. We are hoping to reach 90 mentor matches for the 2012-2013 school year.
On June 1st, we had a very exciting End of Year celebration carnival for all of the children and their Lunch Buddies. Everyone had a fun filled time and it was a great way to say good bye for the summer or permanently if the child was moving on to Middle School this year.
The Lunch Buddy program continues to match adult volunteers with deserving North Clackamas Elementary School students. The pairs spend one lunch hour a week together for a minimum of one school year and the adult is able to provide friendship, support and positive role modeling to a child who may not be getting these things outside of their school day.
If you are interested in being a Lunch Buddy mentor, please contact Linda Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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