“How many days until you come back?”
These are the words that I heard each time I visited my lunch buddy, a second grader at Asbell Elementary, often multiple times a visit. This phrase helped me commit to coming back each week no matter how I felt.
“Seven days, so next Tuesday!”
My lunch buddy would count on her fingers and reply, “Seven days… I hope Tuesday comes soon!” reminding me that my small commitment of visiting for thirty minutes each week had a much larger impact than I could see.
Let’s rewind to the beginning. In my case, the first few weeks of being a lunch buddy were hard and I felt that I wasn’t making much of a connection. My buddy seemed disinterested and distracted no matter how much effort I made. I had thought of asking for a new buddy or quitting, making the program all about me and how I felt when I served. Instead, I reached out to Cameron Magness, Asbell counselor, to ask for help. In that moment, I learned that my buddy has a troubled home life and finds it hard to connect with others due to past experiences. She was paired with a lunch buddy so she could receive some extra attention from a caring adult but Cameron knew it might take some time for us to connect. In a nutshell, my buddy needed to learn that I could be counted on before she would put her trust in me. My heart broke when I heard my buddy’s situation and I asked God to give me the words to say and the patience to follow His leading.
So each week I returned, ready to be used however God saw fit, and slowly, my buddy began to open up. There were days when my buddy and I didn’t talk much and instead colored or did word searches. Other times, we talked about everything under the sun, laughing about how silly we could be. We spent time on the playground swinging or reading books. Several months passed and soon my buddy started introducing me to all of her friends, saying, “This is Tori and she’s my best friend.”
Looking back at the schoolyear, I realize that my buddy had a great impact on me, too. She showed me that it’s the simple things in life that bring joy, like swinging, coloring, or eating school lunch with a friend. I was humbled by the situations that these children deal with every day, reminding me how blessed my life has been. Being a lunch buddy helped me to slow down and see the work that God desires to be done all around us—oftentimes He just asks that we be available to listen and open our hearts to others.
“Where’s my lunch buddy?”
I heard this phrase over and over again from different students proving how many children would love to have someone visit them at school and could benefit from having a trusted adult in their life.
I’m sure most of us have 30 minutes that we can give to someone else, but the first step is the hardest. Being a lunch buddy is simple—eat lunch with a student and be ready to listen… sometimes, recess is involved! Many of you may be scared that you aren’t cool enough, smart enough, or young enough to have a buddy but throw those fears aside! Many children are waiting and would love to have you as their buddy, so what are you waiting for? Your life might just change for the better as well.
Lunch Buddy & Central’s Digital Communications Strategist
Never heard of the Lunch Buddies Program? That’s okay! As a church, we have partnered with Asbell Elementary to offer the Lunch Buddies Program to provide students with positive adult role models, or “buddies.” The premise is simple—choose a day of the week that works for you and commit to eating lunch with a student. During this time, you’ll get to know your buddy and have a chance to talk about school, life, and any problems they may be having. You can also read, play games, color, and go to recess with your buddy. Easy AND fun, right?
For more info on how to get involved, join us for a Lunch Buddies informational meeting on Monday, September 19 at 11:30am in Wesley 310. Lunch will be provided!