The Catholic University of America

May 7, 2007

CUA Best Buddies Volunteers Honored as Outstanding College Chapter

CUA members of Best Buddies gather with their buddies at the 2007 Valentine's Dance in Caldwell Hall.
Best Buddies, an international organization that provides friendship and job opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, has presented an Outstanding College Chapter of the Year Award to its CUA volunteers. Best Buddies Maryland honored its CUA chapter April 28.

About a dozen CUA students are matched with intellectually handicapped individuals and spend time getting to know them - going to the National Zoo, to dances and the movies.

The students commit to being friends with their buddies for the length of the school year. Some remain buddies for all four years of a student's time at CUA.

"I'm very proud of our students and the work they have done," said Best Buddies Adviser Emmjolee Mendoza, associate campus minister for community service. "It's a small organization, but it's rooted in relationships. Our students and their buddies have really formed good relationships."

Mendoza has a personal interest in the group because she was a Best Buddy from 1997 to 2001 when she was a student at CUA.

Katie Clemmer, a rising senior from Jamesville, N.Y., who is majoring in elementary education, has been best buddies with Helen, a 32-year-old woman with Downs Syndrome, for the last three years. As president of CUA's chapter of Best Buddies, Clemmer matches students with their buddies.

Katie Clemmer, president of the CUA chapter of Best Buddies, and her buddy.

Clemmer and Helen share many interests, including country music and dancing; they both enjoying joking around. Helen is always on the look-out for a boyfriend for Clemmer. Just like any of her other friends, Clemmer talks to Helen on the phone at least once a week and sees her two or more times a month.

The CUA chapter plans group outings once a month that all members can attend. On Wednesdays students visit Bethlehem House, a group home for adults with disabilities in Brookland, to celebrate Mass and have dinner with some of their buddies and other residents.

"Best Buddies is the most rewarding thing that I have been involved with in college because it has made me re-evaluate my life in so many ways," Clemmer said. "By becoming friends with my buddy, I learned what deep, unconditional friendship is; I learned about compassion and empathy."

Media contact:
· Mary McCarthy, CUA Office of Public Affairs, 202-319-5600,