Fundraising is the life blood of Best Buddies University of South Florida.
The club is part of an international nonprofit organization that focuses on building one on one friendships with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The club offers a non-judgmental haven for its members where they arerelated to as personalities, not as disabled people.
The future of the club depends on money and Best Buddies fundraises without the assistance of the national organization.
The Best Buddies USF fundraising chair Michelle Nurmohamed said that some companies would only talk with the club if all of the club’s officers were present with her while attempting to set up a fundraiser.
“I contacted Grey’s Bookstore and they had told me that they won’t explain it over the phone and to meet in person,” said Nurmohamed.
Best Buddies has sought support from various sources. The USF chapter has had restaurants such as Qdoba, Chipotle, and Domino’s donate food for lunch and dinner events. If the club does receive any money, it is usually through a small fundraising event. In the past, The International Boba House donated some of their proceeds toward Best Buddies. Usually club members have to bring food to events.
Co-president Ali Barnes said that it is generally difficult finding people who are willing to give money. She has found that people will use a derogatory term referring to members as “causes”.
Adam Boryszewski, a Buddy for over five years, said he agreed that co-presidents Barnes and Nick Ventola are steering the club in the right direction and is benefiting from having them as leaders.
In the club, every individual is assigned to another Buddy, who they exchange phone numbers with and have lunch dates so they can check up on one another and enjoy another’s company.
Due to members’ schedules, the club focuses on having events twice a month. At the club’s events, members get to socialize with other Buddies, play games and munch on food. The club’s events give an opportunity for members to start and build lifelong friendships.