Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Best Buddies Offers Unique Living Opportunities

The Georgetown Best Buddies International living community, which provides joint housing for people living with and without intellectual and development disabilities (IDD), is looking to expand its community and its connection with the university Best Buddies chapter, in order to promote the independence and inclusion of people with and without IDD alike.

A non-profit organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) recently expanded its living community opportunities since the opening of its location in the Georgetown neighborhood last September.

With the mission of reducing the economic and social isolation of people with IDD, Best Buddies International is now the only organization that offers non-institutional living opportunities for people both with and without IDD. The Georgetown chapter, founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver (CAS ’88) in 1987, is part of an effort that connects each living community with a college campus to allow residents to participate in activities such as club and sporting events.

Residents of the Georgetown living community can become involved with the university chapter of Best Buddies by attending club events that the chapter holds throughout the school year, fostering friendships between people with and without IDD.

Mason Leath (SFS ’24), the president of Georgetown’s Best Buddies chapter, said he is looking forward to the inclusion of Best Buddies living community residents in the Georgetown Best Buddies club.

“The new Best Buddies living community will surely be an exceptional program, and we remain fully committed to supporting its implementation and our new community members in every way possible as they become more ingrained in the Georgetown community,” Leath wrote to The Hoya. 

While research reports that 62% of people with IDD wish to live independently, only 3% are actually able to access housing outside of their family home as of 2021. Similarly, a 2017 study by the Technical Assistance Collaborative found that people with IDD have been effectively priced out of the American housing market.

“Non-elderly adults with disabilities who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are among the groups most severely affected by the extreme shortage of affordable rental housing across our nation,” the study reads.

This phenomenon has left countless people with IDD dependent on their families for residential services, an inequity that the Best Buddies living communities attempt to rectify.

Best Buddies living communities such as the Georgetown location are designed to support individuals with IDD while fostering life-changing relationships for all residents by hosting many community-building events such as dinners and game nights. This allows people both with and without IDD to live together in an inclusive environment and fosters independence, growth and the development of essential living skills. 

Nicole Baradi, the current residential manager of the Georgetown living community location, said that the program purposefully pairs people with and without IDD as roommates. The residents are highly independent and work during the day, and residents with IDD also meet with Baradi to work on independent living skills.

“What’s really important about our community is we really try to focus on community events and group dinners,” Baradi told The Hoya. “So we’ll do all-inclusive community events and group dinners each week for the residents to get together and form those positive relationships with each other.”

Leath said that his time with the organization has been both rewarding and memorable.

“It has been such an honor to get to work with so many kind and inspiring people from all over the DMV,” Leath wrote. “I will never forget all of the memories I have made with Best Buddies and what a blessing it has been to hear each Buddy’s story and get to know their families as well.”

Baradi said that it is rewarding to help those with IDD grow as some residents go on to live independently, and added that she loves celebrating daily victories at the living community with its residents.

“I had my resident Casey, one of my first residents, come to me the day she got a paycheck for the first time,” Baradi told The Hoya. “That’s something that some people take for granted normally, just getting a paycheck. But we were also excited and the whole community celebrated together, because that was just an awesome win for her, and for all of her roommates.”

“People with disabilities are very capable,” Baradi said. “So it’s really great to be in an environment that not only encourages them, but celebrates it, and we’re making it a normal thing.”

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    NicoleDec 1, 2023 at 4:02 pm

    Amazing Job Nora!