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Buddy Program expands to Glenwood Springs


By Victoria Eakins and Yesenia Benavides
Youth Correspondents

The Buddy Program is turning 50 this year! And they’re also expanding to Glenwood Springs. The Buddy Program is a youth-mentoring nonprofit that focuses on empowering youth with one-on-one and group mentoring programs throughout the Valley.

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The Buddy Program offers four primary programs, including one-on-one mentoring between adults and a youth, peer-to-peer mentoring between youth, mentoring within the school setting and experiential, outdoor programs for teens called LEAD (Leadership through Exploration, Action and Discovery). Annually, the Buddy Program serves over 500 youth, families and volunteer Big Buddies.

It all began in 1973 in Aspen. Mental-health professional Gregg Anderson had been a Big Brother in college and recognized its value, especially for kids of single parents and/or without siblings. In 1994, the program started expanding downvalley. In 2010, it arrived to Carbondale and, in 2018, LEAD started in Rifle thanks to a three-year grant in partnership with Garfield County.

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To learn more about this next expansion to Glenwood Springs, The Sopris Sun sat down with Assistant Director Brooke Bockelman. “We are aware there is a lack of mentoring services in Western Colorado,” she said. “For now, we’re all in, focused on Glenwood growth.”

At the beginning of January 2023, The Buddy Program had already launched a middle school LEAD program, which they are planning to bring to Glenwood Springs High School at the beginning of the 2023/2024 school year, along with peer-to-peer mentoring also launching at the start of the next school year.

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They also plan on hosting multiple events in the upcoming year, most of which are an annual occurrence, like the Bash for Buddies gala and gingerbread house-making.

When Glenwood Springs is added, they will add approximately 100 youth to the number who are served each year, Bockelman said. They will operate out of the YouthZone building in Glenwood Springs, thanks to a partnership between the organizations.

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“We are always seeking more Big Buddies,” Bockelman continued. A Big Buddy gets to do community-based or school-based activities of their choosing, depending on their Little Buddy’s schedule. The Buddy Program matches pairs so successfully that most last an average of 3.5 years, compared to two years nationally for similar programs, according to Bockleman. Some pairs have even lasted 12 or more years!

Along with expanding, as a celebration for their 50th,The Buddy Program also created a “more vibrant and joyful logo,” said Bockelman. The new logo, a “b” and “p” interlocking to form a colorful Venn diagram, launched in January and symbolizes relationships. Although it is simple, it symbolizes so much. “We believe that connection changes lives,” said Bockelman. “All of our work is relationship-based.”

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The Buddy Program helps youth grow their social and emotional skills through developing authentic relationships. They strive to build genuine friendships between each Little Buddy and Big Buddy.

But, “It shouldn’t be underestimated what the big buddies get out of the experience as well,” said Bockelman. Big Buddies also benefit from building cross-generational friendships and doing fun things in the Valley. 

To learn more, or sign up, visit or call 970-920-2130.

Big Buddy Jill Gruenberg and Little Buddy Ali, hanging out. Courtesy photo

Tags: #The Buddy Program #Youth #Youth Journalism
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