Selma, Ala. native, Lauren Swindle is a busy, hardworking girl. Not only is she president of Auburn’s Best Buddies program, which is a big responsibility in itself, but she also has to balance schoolwork and everything else the typical college student has thrown at them. Lauren might have a lot on her plate, but she most certainly always finds time to spend with her good friend, Ann, whom she might have never met if it wasn’t for the Best Buddies Program.
HC Auburn: What is your major?
Lauren: I am a Sophomore majoring in Special Education.
HC Auburn: What is the purpose of Best Buddies?
Lauren: Best Buddies is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one to one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We promote friendship and try our best to provide equal opportunities for individuals in our area with disabilities and pair them with college students for that one to one friendship base.
HC Auburn: What made you decide to become such a predominate figure in the Best Buddies program?
Lauren: I joined Best Buddies as a Freshman and simply fell in love with the organization. Sophomore year I wanted to get more involved and received the awesome opportunity to serve as the Vice President of Event Coordination for the organization. Now, the title of President has been passed down to me and I am just ridiculously blessed and humbled to have this role. I look forward to seeing how we can grow as an organization in the next few years and how the Lord is going to use me, along with the other officers, in these positions of leadership.
HC Auburn: I know that Best Buddies holds several events throughout the year. Which would you say is your favorite and why?
Lauren: We hold events once a month and they are always such a blast!! My favorite one from this past year was the Valentine's Dance. We got all dressed up and danced the night away together in the Student Center Ballroom. This was my favorite event because the Buddies got to show their dancing skills while enjoying some genuine fun. It is so cool to see their innocence and love for others shine through while enjoying time together as well. The Valentine's Dance definitely displayed the heartbeat of Best Buddies, which is a handful of fun and lots and lots of love.
HC Auburn: What would you say is the most rewarding thing about being a part of such a program?
Lauren: Best Buddies has been such a huge blessing in my life and is seriously one of the highlights of my Auburn experience. This program and the leadership positions I have gotten to take part in have both shaped my view on life as a whole. Something my Buddy Ann taught me was to literally enjoy every single second of every single day and to love without holding back. She is so full of unconditional love, as are all the Buddies in the program. They constantly teach me to love on other people no matter what the circumstances are and to enjoy every moment I have together with them. As I tell many people, it is not about how cool a venue is or what activities and food we will partake in, it is all about the Buddies and letting them spend time with each other and the chance to enjoy things that they many not normally have the chance to do. Seeing their faces light up when they see their college buddy or their fellow friends is so incredible and hearing the words "I love you Buddy" make my heart melt every time. To my Buddy Ann, it does not matter what I did that day or what kind of mood I am in, she is always going to love me for who I am and because I am simply "her buddy."
HC Auburn: How can students get involved with Best Buddies?
Lauren: Best Buddies will be on the concourse for O-Days in the fall and there will be an info session shortly after that. Students must complete an application and go through and interview process. If chosen, they can then be paired up with a Buddy to establish their one to one friendship, or they can be chosen as an associate member, who just helps run the behind the scene actions of our events. The time commitment is one college member meeting per month, one group event/party per month, and then spending time with your buddy individually. We need girls and boys, ranging from Freshman-Seniors.
For more information, please feel free to contact me, Lauren Swindle, at email@example.com or check out our national website, bestbuddiesonline.org
First picture caption: Miss Ann and I jamming to Justin Bieber and having a dance party on the way from a Best Buddies event! (her favorite thing ever....dancing and J Biebs)
Miss Ann and Lauren Swindle at Chill. (her favorite place to go!)
Miss Ann and Lauren Swindle at the Best Buddies Bowling Party. (she is on a bowling league and just placed 3rd in the last tournament!)
Miss Ann and Lauren Swindle being silly at the Valentine's Day Dance. (she knows how to boogie down!)
Miss Ann, Lauren Swindle, and Ann's best friend Jeffery on the Concourse for Best Buddies campaign in March called Spread The Word To End The Word. (campaign to get people to pledge to stop saying the r-word, which is retarded in a derogatory way. Ann loves coming to campus and we had a blast hanging out together)
Miss Ann and Lauren Swindle at an Auburn Basketball Game. (she loves anything Auburn! War Eagle!)