Bud and Dan matched in the MAGIC group (Matched Activity Groups In the Community) through JBBBS and the rest was history. The two have been on countless adventures and even managed a social distanced hangout during COVID-19.
In Bud’s Words
Many years ago, I served as secretary on the board of Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (JBBBS). JBBBS has continued to thrive and meet the needs of our community through innovative services like the Friend 2 Friend Program. Our youngest son, Jeff, was matched several years ago with a young man with disabilities, and I observed the fulfillment that he gained from this relationship. He said, “Dad, I really think that you should come to a recruitment session and find out more about the programs that are being offered today.” My friend Julie also encouraged me to join the program.
I was matched with Dan, and we started out in the MAGIC (Matched Activity Groups In the Community) program, but have since transferred to the Community Program where friends create their own schedules and meet once or twice a month.
During the past three years, Dan and I have gotten to know each other very well. I learned that Dan’s first engagement with JBBBS was as a 7-year-old in the children’s program with a Big Brother for four years until his Big moved out of state. Having lost his father at a young age, JBBBS filled a void in his life. Twelve years later, he still had a void in his life and was matched as an adult in the Friend 2 Friend program.
Dan is a very high functioning young man who has held several part-time jobs and most recently worked at the Hanscom Commissary for 10 years. He is also a published author of the book, “Love Overcomes Grief,” which is designed to open dialogue between parents and children over loss and suggests healing activities to help children through the grief of losing a loved one. In his attempt to give back and help others who have faced loss, Dan has distributed his book to funeral homes in 18 states and three countries.
He also earned a “Challenge Coin” given to him by the Newton police chief, which is thoughtfully reserved for people in the community who have unselfishly helped others. This honor has only been bestowed once in the last two decades, and that coin went to Dan. He has a love for playing tennis in the Special Olympics and a passion for museums, hiking, travel and adventure.
Our relationship has grown over the years. We had exciting plans for this year. Then along came COVID-19. This certainly changed the dynamic since we could not see each other face to face and engage in our planned day trips to Rockport, attend Red Sox games, Celtics games, go to museums or just plain hang out. In the beginning, we spoke on the phone and had FaceTime visits. The social isolation that was amplified by COVID-19 created even more of a need for companionship. This pandemic also put a monkey wrench in so many of the things that Dan loves to do. He, along with others, has been isolated not being able to work out at a health club, play tennis or travel.
Being careful and social distancing has been important to him since he lives with a mother who has some health issues. Besides doing fun social things, we have become very close. Our relationship has been anything but ordinary. We have visited hospitals, cemeteries and synagogues, sometimes saying goodbye to loved ones, but we did it together.
I got to meet Dan’s mom and extended family for the first time in the most unexpected way—at Sharon Memorial Park for Dan’s stepfather’s unveiling. This was not the introduction that I had in mind for being introduced to his family, but it gave me insight into both Dan’s life and that of his stepfather through Dan’s powerful eulogy of his dad, Dave AKA Mr. Fantastic. Last year, when my sister became ill and eventually passed away, it was Dan who was checking in on a regular basis to see how both she and I were doing. He and his mother arrived at shiva with a beautiful book. I recently had rotator cuff surgery and Dan was once again there to check up on me. This meant so much to me to see how deep our relationship had become.
In return, when Dan has needed support, I have met him at the emergency room and sat with him when he awaited the outcome of family medical procedures. We really hope in the future that we will do fun things instead of what is stated above. However, it is nice to be able to be there for him.
There is a destiny that guides us—none goes their way alone; all that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own. I know that Dan has certainly put a lot into my life and, in return, I have been reassured time and time again that I have put a lot into his. We are honored to know each other and hope our bond becomes stronger as time goes on.
In Dan’s Words
I was matched with Bud Schram on Nov. 22, 2017, through the MAGIC group. We did a variety of things together as a group and got to know each other through the group framework, which included a tour of Fenway Park, a BU hockey game, movie night, bowling, etc. We had a fabulous time and then everything got weird. COVID-19 came in and the rest is history.
This is not the most remarkable thing about our relationship. The interesting thing is the strange twists and turns of events that have taken place in both of our lives. The first time Bud met my mom was in a cemetery. I certainly did not see that coming. I had invited Bud and Peggy Schram to my dad’s unveiling. Bud took time off of work on a Friday to attend this event and to join our family in honoring my dad one final time. Bud was dressed to the nines in his navy checkered suit and his signature bow tie. He got to meet the whole family and enjoyed the “last meal on Dad” at the Sheraton for the reception.
Then things got strange. Bud and I started a laundry list of visiting hospitals and endoscopy centers together. When Mom needed surgery, it was Bud who came to sit with me to pass the time. Two months later, at 11 p.m. on a Friday night, it was Bud who came to BIDMC emergency room in Needham to be there while Mom was hooked up to an IV. Then came COVID-19 and we were all stuck at home. Bud would come for a distanced visit in the backyard from time to time where we would together dream of a day without COVID-19. We discussed the countless options of what we wanted to do together, including but not limited to an eclectic assortment of museums, seaside towns in Massachusetts and day trips to nearby contiguous states. We fanaticized about museums, sporting events, taking advantage of all that Boston has to offer and the surrounding cities.
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