"I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous the first time I met my buddy. These feelings were quickly washed away when I saw his smile. Now, when I get to his house, he greets me with his hands in the air and a wide smile. While he may need an occasional reminder to say please or thank you, he’s very sweet and always sure to listen to what I have to say. He is very thoughtful; for my birthday he gave me his favorite: S’mores! Together, we build Legos and beat “final bosses”. We write our own sequels to his favorite books. We go on walks and ride our bikes around the neighborhood. Together we are a perfect pair!
Although one may think that my relationship with my Buddy is a one-way street (me being there for him), that is not at all true. At the beginning of the school year, I got to my buddy’s house stressed out about my new classes and college applications. When my Buddy’s mom answered the door, my heart dropped at the sound of my buddy crying. After he mellowed out a little bit, we went for a walk, and he told me about his day. As it turns out, he was upset because he lived on a one-story house. Confused, I asked a few probing questions. He confessed he was upset because his house doesn’t have any stairs for a stair slide. Fighting a smile, I told him that I didn’t have a stair slide either. This relaxed him a little bit, we were both in it together.
This moment made me realize the importance of my Buddy in my own life, his perspective on the world and his ability to be present reminds me to let go of my stresses and grounds me to what truly matters. I am truly thankful for having Ethan in my life as he’s had just as big an impact on me as I may have had on him."
"Over the past three crazy years, our son was matched with his mentor Ethan Tampa. We are so grateful for the bond they built -- especially through a time with so much isolation. Ethan is an incredible mentor, he is thoughtful, kind, and caring. For the first time in our lives, we see our son looking forward toward a social engagement with his mentor. He counts down the days till he sees “Big Ethan” (as we call him) and plans out there time together. It has been a pleasure to have Big Ethan be part of our family, and I hope one day, my children grow to be as kind and understanding as this young man."