The United Nations chooses to recognize July 30th as the International Day of Friendship, reflecting the idea that friendships between peoples, countries and individuals inspire peace and build bridges between communities.
With COVID-19 affecting our lives so severely, we’ve all taken a new perspective on what friendship means and how to maintain it through social distancing. Programs like the Carefor Befriending Program in Eastern Counties are essential for many people in the region to stay connected through the outbreak.
The Befriending Program takes the true meaning of friendship to heart, offering compassion, comfort and respect to members of the Carefor Social Club. The club is a safe space for adults with physical disabilities and their families to seek support both from peers and volunteers through planned group activities.
Kevin Snider has been an active member of the club for over 20 years and has come to be a familiar face in the group. Kevin misses being able to get together with his friends at social activities like bowling, dining out at restaurants, and going to the mall. Kevin says about seeing his friends at the club: “I feel happy, and it makes me feel good. Everybody is a friend,” which is a shared sentiment with other club members.
Although the program has moved online in the past few months, it hasn’t stopped Kevin from staying in touch with his friends. The group still engages with one-another using Zoom and Facebook to do exercises, games, and activities together. Members of the club also connect over the phone as some participants are unable to use a computer.
Carole Snider, Kevin’s mom and a volunteer with the group, believes this program fills a void within the region. “This club is the best thing that’s ever happened to him. This program gives them a fullness of life other than doctors visits.”
Lisa Steer-Vachon, the team leader of the Befriending Program shared, “The Carefor Social Club is inclusive and everyone is treated as an equal. If we’re participating in an activity online or in-person everyone is participating on the same level. We’re like a family.”
Although Kevin can’t see his friends in-person right now, he eagerly looks forward to seeing them online every day. Kevin offered, “I hope everyone makes the best of every day,” which is not only a powerful message to his one-hundred friends and members of the Carefor Social Club in Eastern Counties, but to us all.
For more information about the Carefor Befriending Program, visit: https://carefor.ca/services/?comaction=view&cid=15&id=38