Fifteen years ago a 16 year old girl joined with a few friends and a mentor to positively impact the lives of more than 750 homeless people in Bend, Oregon. From this first gathering of supplies and clothing collected to fill new backpacks for needy children and adults evolved a program known as After School Buddies. Teens found themselves making a difference, working together to serve God by serving others in need of love and support. Now, 15 years later, more than 1000 at-risk girls and mentors have participated in After School Buddies working to fulfill the mission of “loving others as God has loved us”.
ASB girls experience many of the same trials and tribulations seen in families all across America – divorce and custody battles, unhappy blended families, loss of loved ones, financial distress, mental or physical illness, incarcerated parents – to name just a few. Girls of all ages are impacted by these challenges – pushing the limits of emotional, physical, spiritual and relational well-being. The fall-out of abandonment and rejection of young children continues to plague families and communities long after the childhood years are over.
To counteract some of this trauma, ASB participants are offered experiences of joy, encouragement and inspiration by spending time with caring, compassionate teens and adults. Fifteen years of program success have demonstrated the impact and rewards of giving to others while inspiring girls to build self-confidence and improved academic and relational skills.
As a result of serving with ASB, many teens and local college students have made life-changing vocational decisions because of their time spent as Big Buddy mentors. From teachers to counselors, social workers to human resources managers, from committed wives and mothers to nonprofit directors – young women spending time as Big Buddies gain experience, knowledge and insight that positively impacts their future.
2016 was a banner year for ASB. Why?
- The “Free to Be Me” themed programs empowered 100+ girls and women to find their God-given passions, gifts and talents, dream big dreams, try new challenges and experience new joys while celebrating their individuality.
- We welcomed 9 new adult volunteers to our team of mentors with more to come in 2017.
- The 2016 Summer Leadership program involved 85 participants attending the outstanding Olympic-themed 11th annual ASB August camp. (Go for the Gold!)
- The fall 2016 (and soon to be 2017) programs focused on the theme “Embrace Education” – encouraging girls of all ages to educate themselves about each other and strive to attack the negative impacts of bullying and personal prejudices. Also – integration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning theories will be a fun addition in 2017.
- ASB became a part of the Better Together collaboration of agencies serving Central Oregon youth working to increase the number of children completing their high school graduation requirements.
- A total of 35 OSU Cascades University students have served as mentors since the initiation of our partnership with the university in 2012, 20 of them in 2016. What a huge blessing they have been!
As we wrap up our programs of 2016, it is important to look back and note the many people, companies and agencies who have blessed After School Buddies this past year.
- First – we recognize the many adult leaders of our both school year and summer camp programs who give of themselves freely each week and/or all summer long. ASB is blessed by their commitment, wisdom and passion that makes a significant difference in the lives of all of our girls.
- We celebrate the gift of friendship and support from the counselors, faculty, staff, transportation and nutrition services departments of the Bend Lapine School District, Central Oregon Community College and Oregon State University – Cascades Campus. These wonderful entities provide us with mentors, elementary and middle school students, transportation, after school suppers, classroom space and much more.
- We are again grateful for the gift of space for the Thrive! ASB Middle School program that is offered at no charge by the Christian Life Center.
- We celebrate the new relationships with local therapeutic transition schools including New Leaf Academy and Cascade Crest Transitions for providing wonderful teen and young adult mentors.
- We are grateful for the husbands, significant others and families who support our volunteer efforts and put up with our many hours of service to others.
- We deeply appreciate the many businesses, foundations and individuals who have given us financial gifts and/or gifts in kind that allow us to continue to honor the God-inspired passion to serve and love others.
- We particularly thank the generous donors who have supported our special “Big Dream” outdoor pavilion project – the construction of a large, outdoor pavilion that will provide shelter not only for the summer leadership camp but also for outdoors activities for all programs throughout the year.
- As an update, since March 2016 we have raised $11,000 of the $20,000 needed to complete the structure. Anonymous donors have already honored a match of the first $5000 raised (included in the $11,000) and have promised another $5000 of matching funds if we can raise an additional $5000 to meet our goal.
(Note If you are looking for a way to bless your community and support the participants of ASB, please consider donating to the “Big Dream” and help us raise the additional $5000 needed to complete the project. Our goal is to have the pavilion built in time for the 2017 camp kick off in June.)
In closing, like most nonprofit agencies, we depend on gifts from private donors to keep programs running. Although we have been blessed by the generosity of many, we still need to seek funding to continue the work we do that is offered free to all participants.
If providing support for After School Buddies’ ongoing programs is a priority for you, please know that
- as little as $50 will pay for a girl to attend the free school year program;
- an additional $50 will help pay for her to attend the annual summer camp.
Donations may be made by check or by using this web site link for credit card processing.. (Donate)
Regardless of your decision, we ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers – asking God to provide us not only with the finances we need but also the volunteers required to staff the programs and the young girls who would best be served by these amazing women.
Thank you ever so much for being a part of the ASB story. May the coming year bring you even more personal satisfaction and joy than you could have dreamed! With heartfelt appreciation for your part in “my story”,