Ministry of Inclusion - Buddying Up for Blessings: 
A Buddy Story by Jill Valerius

            Buddy Jill and Drew with his sled.

  When I saw the post on the Lord of Life website asking for Buddies for the "Be a Buddy" program, I knew it was my calling. I chose to be a Buddy because of my love for children and the opportunity to help them explore and grow in their faith. Although being a Buddy takes time and patience, the rewards from watching a child learn about the love of God is the best gift anyone could ask for.

This past August, Heather Hjelmstad, Lord of Life's Coordinator for the Ministry of Inclusion, told me she found a Buddy for me: Drew Nohr. Every Tuesday Drew gets dropped off for the After School Program (ASP), which divides two hours between free time, snack, a lesson and homework time. It allows Drew to learn, make friends and have fun. During the time he spends at church Drew's mom, Debbie has time to run errands and spend time with the rest of the family. Drew has many buddies for the multiple programs he is involved in at Lord of Life. His parents can enjoy and grow in their faith at Sunday's church service, while Drew also grows and learns with the help of a Buddy. With the support of Heather and a team of Buddies, the entire family benefits in their growth of their individual faith. 
Through Lord of Life's Ministry of Inclusion, Drew has been able to accomplish many things. Although I must say his favorite activity is in the computer room. Drew also enjoys music, reading and playing outside. Just like any other boy he has a favorite football team and loves the Lego bin. 

It has been a thrill for me watching him grow in multiple ways through ASP. Drew has shown me the many things we learn at ASP such as how to be a good friend and the many points of the Bible. As much as Drew learns from me, I also learn from him. Drew has shown me how to play football and "correctly" slide on a sled. Although I'm sure those skills will be useful, the most important thing he has shown me is God's love for everyone is unique and special. As the school year comes to an end, I will miss his comforting smile. Drew is the most energetic, loving, red-haired boy whose love for his family and God is greater than anyone else that I know.

Buddying Up for Blessings:  A Parent's Perspective

Lord of Life's Buddy Program allows us to confidently register Drew for any of the church programs that his peers are involved in. We love that he gets to make friends, learn about God and have fun just like other kids his age. We know that he will be safe if he decides to run out of the room, or that he will get a break if he needs it. 

For the last couple years, Drew has had the same amazing Church School Buddies, Jan Brynteson and Mary Amundson. They have made it possible for us to attend church weekly. ASP, summer programs and Parent Night Out have acted as respite care for us, allowing us to take time for ourselves or spend some quality time with our daughter. Drew enjoys the programs and has made many new friends including the buddies working with him. We appreciate them taking the time to volunteer so that we may enjoy church services and time for ourselves as well as our daughter and for Drew to enjoy Lord of Life's great youth programming. 

~ by Dan and Debbie Nohr