Local youth participating in the Buddy Mentors Program recently celebrated the holidays in Vail. The evening included a private skate at Alderhof Ice Rink, a turkey dinner with all the trimmings at the Arrabelle, and a visit from Santa. Vail Resorts EpicPromise provided the dinner and the skating. Santa, with a little help from Howard Head Sports Medicine, provided a gift for each child.
Buddy Mentors inspire and foster local youth through building consistent and trusting relationships with caring adults, known as senior buddies. Many of the kids, known as junior buddies, usually don’t get the opportunity to visit the mountain. The evening is a chance for these children to experience what locals often take for granted.
“It’s a magical evening for the children, and for us as adults,” said Sheri Mintz, CEO of Bright Future Foundation, which facilitates the Buddy Mentor Program. “Each year there is a child who has never experienced the magic of ice skating in Vail, and so it’s a huge experience for them, and then you add the element of a party. It’s wonderful to watch the excitement of the children when they see Santa.”
Another element that made this year’s party special was the inclusion of a handful of new Buddy Mentor pairs, including Senior Buddy Rosa Foth and Junior Buddy Nathan. Recently matched, this was the first holiday party that Rosa and Nathan have attended together.
“The party was so fun,” Rosa said. “Nate skates well and he was so helpful with the other kids, getting them up off the ice and giving them pointers on how to skate. While Nathan and I haven’t been buddies for too long, it feels like I’ve known him and his family forever.”
Bright Future asks for each junior and senior buddy to make a year commitment to the Buddy Mentors Program, however, many junior buddies will stay connected with their mentors into their high school years. It’s not uncommon for a Buddy pair to be active for five or more years.
Junior buddy candidates are frequently referred to Bright Future by someone in the community, such as a parent, teacher or counselor. They are youth who can benefit from an additional positive role model, and often come from homes with a single parent who works multiple jobs. Senior buddies are reliable and consistent adult mentors whom they can confide in and share their concerns – which can range from minor issues at school to more serious trouble at home.
Once a Buddy Mentors match is made, the program will then help facilitate a goal or an activity for the mentorship pairing. This can be something academic, athletic, artistic or whatever other healthy activity the pair would like to pursue. In addition, the program offers monthly opportunities for buddies, including the annual holiday party, scavenger hunts and bowling.
Since first being matched this summer, Rosa and Nathan have met about once a week to partake in various activities. They have visited the Eagle pump track, Mountain Valley Horse Rescue, and enjoy the monthly Buddy Mentors potlucks. When thinking about her Junior Buddy, she says, “I think we are a great match. I can’t wait to go skiing with him this season and continue this journey for many more years to come.”
There is no shortage of children in Eagle County in need of mentors. Interested mentors can contact Bright Future’s Buddy Mentors Program Manager Rachel Halzel at 970-763-7212. Also, a senior buddy application and a junior buddy referral form can be found at www.mybrightfuture.org.