Due to several strokes and diabetic retinopathy, I find myself now to be a member of the disabled community. Thus, from a personal experience, I believe there is a need in the cities for a new organization – i.e., BAB (the Be A Buddy System). BAB would work in two basic ways: The first would be as an answer to all those disabled persons who just want a day out in the community, once or twice a month for approximately 3 hours a day. Volunteers would donate their time to such an activity. The disabled people could then take their time to run errands, shop, go to the bank, and perhaps even do lunch. All of those activities that now require a family member or close personal friend to do but often cause tension stress to both people involved. The disabled persons then would not have to feel rushed and would have something to look forward to every month. The volunteer would experience a good feeling from his/her effort and perhaps form a new relationship and friend.
The second would be a process of matching handicapped to handicapped on a one to one basis. For example, I have a friend who is blind and happens to be a marvelous cook. She belongs to “talking books” which meets most of her needs; but occasionally, there is an article in a newspaper or magazine that she would like to have read to her. Her family dislikes reading aloud, subsequently resulting in tensions and frustrations. However, if there were a sighted but otherwise disabled person sitting at home feeling lonely and hungry, they could be matched up and thus form a symbiotic relationship.
Presently, there does not seem to be a service like BAB in the area. (If the reader knows otherwise, please inform me as soon as possible) I am eager to hear from all of you out there.
If this organization becomes a reality, its primary goals will be to increase one’s self-esteem, restore dignity and return some independence to the handicapped. Initially, it won’t address such issues as education, advocacy, or support (Minnesota – Land of 10,000 support groups!!!) The above issues are already well covered by other agencies and to duplicate would be unnecessary, and a waste of time and money. If this article touches a cord in your soul and you want to participate, help or just give advice, please respond immediately. Interest in support has already been shown by Courage Center, Perspectives, and the Junior League of Minneapolis. BAB could benefit both the disabled and able-bodied in the metro area but only if I get some positive response. Presently, this is a “one man show”. I have now done all I can do—it’s now your turn. Please don’t let me and the other handicapped persons down. I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you… Contact Kitty at 925-9791.