I know firsthand the significant difference caring adults can make in children’s lives. Having grown up in Aspen in the 1970s, my teachers, coaches, and friends’ parents were instrumental in providing a network of nurturing, trusted adults apart from my own parents.

When I returned to the valley in 2017, I knew I wanted to give back in a way that benefits children. The Buddy Program was it. In October of 2018, I became a Big Buddy to a Basalt High School student. Over the past 26 months, we’ve had fun getting to know each other as we’ve shared activities like watching the X Games, playing miniature golf, seeing “The Nutcracker,” going to the movies, making clay pots, decorating gingerbread houses and baking cookies. While COVID-19 restrictions have made it more challenging to gather in person, we have managed to stay connected through texting, FaceTiming, and letter writing.

It has been rewarding to become a trusted, consistent adult in my buddy’s life and to introduce her to activities that were a part of my youth, which she might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience. I’ve learned so much from my Little Buddy, and I’ve learned a lot about myself. How lucky I am to be a part of the Buddy Program. I encourage others to get involved in this amazing mentorship opportunity. Not only will you positively impact a child’s life, but the experience will also change you in ways you can’t even imagine.

Brenda Stockdale