"Best Buddies" organization helping the state help people living with developmental disabilities

Posted at 10:17 PM, Apr 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-13 22:17:57-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- The state of Indiana is in the middle of a five-year plan to help those living with developmental disabilities improve their quality of life and offer more opportunities for competitive, living wage jobs. 

Organizations like "Best Buddies" are assisting the state in reaching its goal.

"Best Buddies fosters relationships between people with disabilities and without disabilities," said Christine Ellis, Best Buddies, Butler University Chapter President.

It pairs volunteers with people living with disabilities and for several reasons.

"I think it's just really valuing people that might be a little bit different than you and recognizing that everyone really has something to contribute to society and that everyone has a value and that they're capable of making a difference," said Natalie Seibert, Best Buddies state director.

Kelsey Rumschlag found a home, friends and opportunities with Best Buddies.

"I didn't feel like I was welcome at either school - middle or high school - because it was so rough for me. I used to have difficulty liking myself but they've taught me more and more to love myself," said Kelsey.

Best Buddies is just one organization doing work that is in line with the state's goals to double the number of people with disabilities working in a competitive work environment with a living wage, to increase accessibility to safe, affordable housing, and to support opportunities enabling people with disabilities to become leaders.

"Really helping those individuals find jobs and giving them a sense of empowerment. A sense of feeling self-sufficient, independent," said Seibert.

For volunteer Claire Jaffee, the experience has taught her about being there for someone and about embracing differences.

"I had no idea just how impactful it would be in my life. You learn just how much everyone has to offer," said Jaffee.

And for her best buddy, Kelsey, this gave her strength to be who she is meant to be.

"It did. Because I was very protective of my feelings and who I wanted to be friends with. But then when I met Claire, that all changed. I mean, I open up to a lot of people and I don't hold back," said Kelsey."

Best Buddies reaches more than 6,000 people with disabilities around the state, in middle school, high school, college and into adulthood.

Now the organization wants to reach kids in elementary school and to expand its job fulfillment program.

You can help by joining "Best Buddies" for their Friendship Walk to raise funds on April 22 at White River State Park.

If you're interested, click here. 

The Best Buddies organization has more than 50 chapters around Indianapolis and even more around the state.