Polly Durant volunteered at Laura Baker Services while she was a student at Carleton College and helped with a variety of LBSA events from drumming to dinner theater. Being a College Buddy made the biggest impact on her life. “My buddy, Lee, became a huge part of my life at Carleton and certainly one of my very best friends,” says Durant who became the Program Director for College Buddies while she attended Carleton College.
College Buddies is a program in which clients at Laura Baker are paired with college students based on shared interests or more particularly “in one-on-one friendships” according to Durant. “What’s neat about these relationships is that they become such an integral part of the Carleton experience for students,” she said. “Carleton is doing such a phenomenal job beginning to raise awareness about diversity,” said Durant, “and we felt that disability was an important addition to this conversation.”
Durant graduated from Carleton with a major in psychology and a concentration in educational studies and aspires to become an occupational therapist, working with children with disabilities. “Although working with my buddy gives me great experience for a future career in occupational therapy, my career goals come second to the fact that he has become an important part of my life,” she says. “I developed a close relationship with the Laura Baker staff, especially my buddy’s house director and guardian. As part of his team, I learned that open communication between us provides him with the best possible, consistent care.”
Durant’s buddy Lee, an LBSA client, couldn’t agree more. “She always took me out,” says Lee. Outings included coffee, walks and trips to the Carleton campus.
“He may not have a high IQ, and he’s often restricted to his wheelchair because of his cerebral palsy, but he more than anyone else has taught me the importance of community. People around town know him from church and from Goodbye Blue Monday coffee shop. He remembers everything about people’s lives and families and makes a point to ask: ‘How’s that wife doing?’ or ‘How’s your little boy?’ I’m humbled when I realize I’m just a small piece of what mades his social life so vibrant.”