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Still showing up, spending time and coming back…from a distance!

By Lettie Bright / 5 April, 2020

Staying connected is a topic on everyone’s minds right now. In the Big Buddy village, we’re giving a lot of thought to how Big and Little Buddies continue to make meaningful connections with each other over the next few weeks.

Luckily, our Big Buddies already have a wealth of ideas on how to maintain the ‘we show up, we spend time, we come back’ mantra that they are known and loved for! Here are a few examples.

Kevin on connecting with Jonathan (main picture.)

“During the lock down, I think it’s more important than ever for people to feel connected, even though they may be isolated” says the Wellington Big Buddy.

“We’re lucky that there are so many technologies that can help us stay in contact, so my Little Buddy Jonathan and I used Facetime and had a video ‘get together’ last Sunday.

“It was actually really easy and we had a great time, playing Liars Dice and Battleships (him with a real board and me with a paper copy I printed off the internet).  I miss seeing him in person as we’ve been doing every weekend for the past 5 years, but for now we’ve adapted to this new way of meeting up, so we still get to talk and have some fun together.”

Jason on connecting with Raffael

“Raf and I have been connecting regularly remotely since he moved to Whakatane. But I know he’s worried, like we all are. So I just try reassure him…he asked me last weekend to come down and stay.”

Clearly, Jason can’t pop down country right now, so they’ve found another way to connect that is close to the young artist’s heart.

“Raf is giving us a topic to draw with. We -as in all my bubble – are going to have a crack at drawing too! We will reveal each other’s pictures on Wednesday afternoons…the first one is a horror theme.”

Eugene on connecting with James

James and I have been checking in with each other every couple of days on WhatsApp via message, chat or video call to share how our day was, what we’ve been up to, any news with the family.

“This seems to be working very well so far. James and his mother elected to go into self-isolation early for family reasons, and they predicted we would go into lock down anyway. So we’ve had plenty of practice using WhatsApp.

“I’d also strongly recommend something like Zoom for video calls, which can be a bit more personal than just messaging.”

Little Buddy Jeremiah and Big Buddy Peter are using ‘pure’ audio to connect: “Jeremiah and I are going old school i.e. the telephone. Unfortunately our digital platforms and entertainment channels are different so it’s good old fashion conversation on the phone.”

And Big Buddy Gavin and Little Buddy Jeffrey, typically take a break during holidays so this period is not unusual for them.

“We are a bit slack when it comes to electronic communications! We’ll have minimum contact over this period and then pick back up later on. We’ve always been like this through holiday periods etc. where we just do our own thing and pick up later, where we left off. “

Big Buddy Roman and Little Buddy Aidan are communicating via WhatsApp, which is their usual method, but moving to Zoom soon.

Last but not least, one Big Buddy who shall remain anonymous, pulled up outside his Little Buddy’s house on his birthday, and sung, with banjo and amp, from the back of his ute! Mum said it really made her boy’s day.

Do you have a self isolation buddy story to share? We would love to hear it. Contact [email protected] , ph 021 599 191 or Facebook message @bigbuddynz

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The journey to being a Big Buddy

By Lettie Bright / 5 November, 2019

One of our well known mentors shares the gradual journey from new dad to Big Buddy.

Auckland’s Eugene Lowrie has been a committed role model for two different boys in the last three years. First, he was Big Buddy to young Sam, then when Sam and his mother moved down to the Waikato, Eugene took James under his wing – pictured above after winning a Big Buddy car rally.

As Eugene tells it, these boys might have very different personalities, but what they each have in common is a loving mother who wanted a decent male role model for their boys to spend time with. Like other boys in the Big Buddy community, neither of them have a father in their lives.

“James and I hit it off immediately and there really wasn’t a period where we had to think too hard about finding things to do. We’ve been mountain biking, skating, snowboarding, walking the dog, catching a movie, playing basketball, golf, paddle boarding and all sorts of other fun activities. James is a pretty unique, very confident boy with a great sense of humour.”

What’s extraordinary about these inspiring and fun-filled relationships is they’re not formed randomly, they’re ‘matched’ carefully. Big Buddy’s expert team find men who can spare a few hours most weekends and puts them through a thorough screening process. This makes sure they are decent guys who will be able to commit to showing up regularly in a boy’s life.

In New Zealand, Big Buddy estimates there are 8000 boys who have no contact with Dad, or even a substitute father figure; this equates to roughly 800 in Wellington, similar in the Waikato and coming up to 3000 in Auckland.

As Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft said in his days as a Judge, boys of a certain age seek out older male role models like “heat-seeking missiles”. It’s Big Buddy’s aim to help vulnerable boys develop the character and confidence they need for a fulfilled life through watching how a man of sound character lives his life.

Eugene was in the ITM office when he first heard about Big Buddy – ITM and GJ Gardner had begun sponsoring the Big Buddy organisation and through their Big Buddy Big Auction, was going to make opening a Waikato office possible.

“I read about the Big Buddy program in our trade-mailer, Building Business, and thought, ‘now this sounds like a fantastic idea’.”

To be fair, Eugene’s desire to help others began years before, and having his own children created a greater sense that he needed to do “something for others at some point in my life.” Obviously when his girls were younger the timing just wasn’t quite right.

“As my kids grew up and began spending more and more time out and about at the weekends it felt like the right time for me to do something for other kids that might be hanging out to get out and do stuff but just don’t have the opportunity. That’s when I saw the article about Big Buddy.

“I had my wife and teenage girls full support – in fact they were incredibly proud of me for doing something so meaningful for others – and of course that of my employer. I had to get references off my manager, relatives, friends and a few other people. Like me, everyone thought being a Big Buddy was a great idea.”

Eugene hasn’t stopped at helping James directly. He recently gave Big Buddy even more of his time to appear in social media and larger-than-life bill-stickers for the #3lifelessons publicity campaign.

If you’d like to share a few wise life lessons with a boy whose dad is not around, have a look at, checkout @bigbuddynz social media or call 09 828 1358.

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Growing confidence through the spirit of adventure

By Lettie Bright / 9 July, 2019

Through kind sponsorship, Big Buddies occasionally get to develop their own confidence on an Outward Bound course, at a fraction of the cost most people would pay. Recently, Big Buddies Eugene Lowrie and Terry Dawson were lucky enough to take up this offer in The Marlborough Sounds. Terry’s letter of thanks, below, shows us the caliber of men who step up to be Big Buddies, and the importance that having an enduring spirit of adventure brings to all. Terry is pictured here in Middle Earth with Little Buddy Jayden!

Dear Steve

I’m writing to sincerely thank Big Buddy and associated sponsors for the wonderful opportunity that I was recently given to attend a one week course of Outward Bound in the Marlborough Sounds.

I have enjoyed many highlights as a Big Buddy over the last two years and this week provided another set of enjoyable and memorable challenges. Together with a team of 11 others, I spent the week hiking, camping, sailing, rowing, running, kayaking and conquering a high ropes course.

Considering the time of year, we were also ‘encouraged’ to spend a surprising amount of time in the ocean!

In addition to wanting to help a fatherless boy in need, I joined Big Buddy to support my own personal growth. Thanks to your generous support, attending Outward Bound has complimented this goal by encouraging my appreciation of nature, providing focus on the relationship between physical activity and health, learning how to fit into a team, and associating with dedicated and passionate people.

These experiences have assisted me to develop into a more effective Big Buddy to Little Buddy Jayden as I have had time to reassess my life in order to become more balanced and present, I have learned to reinforce the importance of nature and physical activity with him, I can safely bring him out of his comfort zone at times in an encouraging and non-confrontational way, and I would like to introduce him to the new experiences I had to gain skills and confidence.

During several activities on my Outward Bound course, I found myself thinking, ‘Jayden would enjoy this…’or, ‘Jayden would benefit from this…’. Hopefully at some time in the future I can encourage him to attend Outward Bound as I’m sure he would enjoy his time there, make many new friends, and gain new skills and confidence.

The age range of people attending Outward Bound was striking and it is clear that the experience provides benefit to young and old alike.

A pleasant surprise during my week on Outward Bound was meeting Eugene, a fellow Big Buddy. It was helpful to swap notes with someone able to relate to what it means to be a Big Buddy. Many of our fellow team members were astounded to hear of what we do and we both felt pride at sharing our experiences.

Also, it was interesting to hear the experiences of others in the group involved in volunteer organisations such as New Zealand Land Search and Rescue and Fire & Emergency New Zealand.
Observing the dedication, passion, patience and sincerity of the guides at Outward Bound reminded me of the team members who work at Big Buddy.

These two organisations have many commonalities and I have found my experiences with each organisation to be synergic. Both organisations provide a positive benefit to individuals and groups in New Zealand society. It is inspiring to spend time with the types of people that are attracted to being involved with both organisations.

Thank you again for the ongoing support of everybody involved with Big Buddy including the team members and sponsors. Without this generous support I may not have been able to find the financial means and the impetus to attend Outward Bound.

Warm regards,

Terry Dawson

Big Buddy to Jayden Parris

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