Corn fritters were on the menu when Oamaru Buddies Evelyn Munro and Hannah Shaw met up for their weekly get-together.

Cooking is a passion they both share and learning how to make the fritters then serving them attractively is just one of the many activities they have enjoyed along the road to establishing a friendship in Presbyterian Support Otago’s our Family Works Buddy Programme.

Now in her sixth year of Buddy mentoring, Evelyn looks forward to her weekly meetings as much as Hannah does.

“My grandchildren are in the North Island so spending time with Hannah keeps me in touch with what children do these days,” she said. “I’m young at heart and doing things like our recent water slide outing and bush walk with my young friend is fun.”

Evelyn was introduced to Buddy mentoring when her daughter volunteered as an Adult Buddy while at Otago University.

“I saw how much fun she and her young friend were having and decided two hours a week was not much of a sacrifice to make if that time helped make a difference in a child’s life,” she added.

For Hannah’s mother, Jodie, that difference is what the programme is all about.

“I’m a single mum of three children and I find it difficult to fit in one-on-one time with them. If I’m cooking they all want to be involved. The fact that Hannah loves cooking and Evelyn is happy to show her what to do, is great,” she said.

“My mum died when I was 19 so Evelyn is the grandmother influence in Hannah’s life. I hardly get a chance to thank Evelyn properly when she delivers Hannah home because Hannah is bubbling with excitement and non-stop chatter telling me what a great time she had.

“It’s a big thing trusting your child to a stranger but Christine (North Otago Buddy Co-ordinator Christine Moffat) made sure Hannah’s interests and my expectations were matched with the right Adult Buddy, and Evelyn’s just perfect,” Jodi added.

Jodie hopes her youngest daughter will join the programme but there is a serious shortage of adult volunteers in North Otago, as there is throughout Otago. Currently there are 171 Buddy ‘pairs’ sharing interests on a regular basis. The children cover all ages and have varying interests so we’re asking single adults and couples to please call us to talk about becoming a mentor to a child and sharing hobbies and interests.

“It really is heart-wrenching to know the benefits a child gains from Buddy friendships and not be able to do anything about it. For some reason people think these children are difficult or would be demanding of time and money, and that’s just not the case,” said Christine Moffat.

Evelyn agreed: “No matter who we are, we all have something to share. I’ve gained a delightful, happy interesting little friend and I thoroughly recommend the programme to others.”