Host Site Coordinator Robert Nutbrown shares his Best Buddies experience

The success of Best Buddies relies on the work of many different groups of people involved in the program. There are the students, teachers, host site coordinators and parents, each with a different perspective about the program. Find out what host site coordinator, Robert Nutbrown from C.R.D.I.T.E.D. Estrie in Sherbrooke, Quebec, had to say regarding his experiences with Best Buddies after an astounding eight years!

How do you see your role as HSC? How long have you had this role?

I have just completed my 8th year as a H.S.C. The first 6 years was with just the Bishop’s University chapter. But for the last two years, it has been for the entire establishment of C.R.D.I.T.E.D. Estrie (Centre d’Accueil Dixville and Centre Notre Dame de l’Enfant). This is challenging for me as the Users from Centre Notre Dame de l’Enfant are Francophone Users and are matched with C.E.G.E.P. de Sherbrooke and Université de Sherbrooke students.

What exciting group activities have your three chapters hosted this past year?

During the last year we have had some really fun group activities. The Bishop’s chapter had a tailgate party and watched a Bishop’s University football game and in the spring boarded a bus and travelled to Montreal, to the Museum of science in the Old Port and watched a 3D movie at the Imax theatre. The Cegep and Université de Sherbrooke chapters went snow tubing at a local ski hill, organized a movie night at the community center in Sherbrooke, as well as, a pizza and dance at the Sherbrooke Cegep.

Please explain why and how the Best Buddies program can make a difference in the community? How have Centre d’Accueil Dixville and Best Buddies Canada worked together?

The Best Buddies program makes a huge difference in the community by exposing the users to activities and relationships that they would probably never have the opportunity to if it wasn’t for the program! Also students and the community get an opportunity to see that persons with disabilities are more similar to themselves than different. They have likes and dislikes, and the same range of emotions as everybody else.

The Bishop’s University chapter works closely with the activities that are sponsored by the Dixville Home Foundation. The Foundation assumes the costs for the students as well as for the users. It was the Foundation who sponsored the trip to Montreal, they paid for the bus, movie tickets and lunch for the entire group.

How many do you think are positively affected by your three chapters?

For the year of 2009-2010, there were 59 matches. 35 from Université de Sherbrooke, 14 from Bishop’s University, and 10 from Cegep de Sherbrooke. I believe we have about 85% positive matches (which is a better success rate than marriage). There are some matches that have been going almost three years now.

As an experienced HSC, what advice can you give to new HSCs coming aboard?

Advice to new HSCs: would be to take the time in the beginning to do the interview and matching processes, let future Student Buddies know about the commitment, and stress the importance of the match. For some of our Buddies it is the only social contact that they have outside of their family and social services. Therefore this relationship is extremely important to them. Also it is important to choose Buddies who like to participate in activities . It is easy for the Student Buddy to lose interest if the Buddy always refuses to participate in activities.

THANK YOU DIXVILLE HOME FOUNDATION for your contributions!!! And thank YOU Robert Nutbrown, HSC, for all your hard work.

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