Written by Akaya McElveen
Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University student Katharine Ferrone and Charles Wynn, assistant chair of the Physical Sciences Department each have received a Best Buddies of Connecticut (BBCT) award for the month of November.
Ferrone received the College Chapter President of the Month BBCT Award for November. Ferrone is a junior majoring in social work. She serves as the Eastern BBCT chapter president and has been a contributing member of the organization for a substantial amount of time, though she exhibited exceptional skills and commitment in November.
Ferrone has improved Best Buddies' weekly chapter meetings by adding an educational component. She finds guest speakers, articles and videos about the disability rights movement and social inclusion to present to the chapter. She also has committed herself to help organize the BBCT state event, "Beats for Buds." She is also actively involved in helping with the annual Windham Special Olympics Swim Meet held at Windham High School, where she and her Best Buddies participants arrive at the school once a week with "unrivaled enthusiasm" and "genuine commitment" to assist the athletes. "Their time both in and out of the pool," said Adrianne Levine, head coach for the Windham Special Olympics swim team and Eastern alumna. "She has helped our athletes to develop relationships, strengthen their conversation skills and boost their confidence." Ferrone have demonstrated superb dedication to the organization, and plans to continue her efforts next semester. Aside from organizing Beats for Buds, she and her fellow Best Buddies participants plan to host "Spread the Word to End the Word." The week-long event is an initiative to eliminate the derogatory use of the word "retard." They also plan to host a BBCT Dance-a-thon to help raise money for the state's programs.
Wynn received the Best Buddies Advisor of the Month Award for November. He is the assistant chair of the Physical Sciences Department and professor of chemistry. Wynn became the Best Buddies faculty advisor in September 2013. In a few short months, his contributions to the organization have helped improve the overall quality of the program. He attends weekly chapter meetings and assists Ferrone in finding and presenting educational material to present to the chapter members. He was also instrumental in recruiting more than 20 new buddies for the Eastern chapter in less than a month. "When Katharine asked me to become the club's faculty advisor, I readily agreed," said Wynn. "I've been really impressed by the enthusiasm of the club's members. They are an inspiration to all of us." In addition to his role as faculty advisor for the chapter, Wynn is also a member of many local organizations. For more than a decade, he has served as the chairman of the Special Olympics Invitational Swim Meet committee, which Eastern faculty members and students have supported through countless hours of volunteer work.
Levine states, "It is people like Dr. Wynn and Katharine who are making the world a better place not only for people with developmental disabilities but by caring for them also!"
Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships for people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant, international organization that has grown to almost 1,500 middle school, high school and college chapters worldwide. As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders and make lifelong friendships.