Local youth participating in the Buddy Mentors Program recently celebrated the holidays at Adventure Ridge in Vail. The evening included a tubing obstacle course, a turkey dinner with all the trimmings and a visit from Santa. Vail Resorts EpicPromise, provided the dinner and the tubing. Santa, with a little help from Howard Head Sports Medicine, provided a gift for each child along with a peppermint treat.
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, executive director of Bright Future Foundation, which facilitates the Buddy Mentor Program. “Each year there is a child who has never experienced a ride on the gondola. 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 magical was the introduction of three new Buddy Mentor pairs, including Senior Buddy Melissa Dombroski and Junior Buddy Emily. Recently matched, Melissa and Emily had not met prior to the holiday party. They immediately connected, and it seems like they’ve been buddies for years.
“Emily is such a sweet, smiley and funny little girl,” said Dombroski. “The night of the party she invited me to her school chorus concert, which I attended. She was so overjoyed I came to see her. Emily’s mom has said a few times now that Emily is very happy with the match. I’m excited too, and I can’t wait to see where the journey takes us.”
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 or bowling.
There is no shortage of children in Eagle County in need of mentors. Interested mentors can contact Bright Future’s Buddy Mentors Program Manager Janet Casson at email@example.com. Also, a senior buddy application and a junior buddy referral form can be found on our Buddy Mentors Program page.