St. Paul partners with Madison Elementary School, across Brady Street from the church. Dana Welser, partnership coordinator, shares that Madison teachers (several are St. Paul members) are on the look-out for volunteers to eat lunch with some of their students. “It’s really quite simple, and a lovely way to spend once a week or every other week for about an hour,” Dana said. To learn more about becoming a lunch buddy, email Dana
or call 563-326-3547, ext. 225.
Dana offered a Q&A to show the importance of these lunch time relationships.
Why the need for lunch buddies?
Some students have been home schooled, and find a brick and mortar building overwhelming. And just need a friend. Others are moving through tricky family situations, and love that someone is coming to see them, just them. A few just need a ramped-down lunch time, away from the cafeteria, with someone they can play games with or read to or just talk.
It’s pretty easy, having done it myself. Just decide if you have an hour free a week. Or every other week. Then decide what day works best for you. It’s OK if you go out of town or have sudden obligations/appointments. We all have those. Could you consider another day that week for lunch at Madison? We connect you with a student who really, really, really needs time with a caring adult.
The day of your lunch, you head to Madison.
Park in the lot closest to the building. Sign in at the front desk. Head to the library (first floor, old school, warm and inviting, a simply lovely place to be) where your lunch buddy will meet you with lunch (picked up from the cafeteria or brought from home). You can bring your lunch, a snack, a cup of coffee, or a Happy Meal for the both of you!
What on earth do you do with your new-found friend?
The first day you talk about school, families, the best part of recess, favorite things to do or eat or wear or be. Ask to be shown around the library. Go and find the secret stash of games. Learn to say each other’s names. Whatever feels right – it’s the first day, after all!
After that, the sky is the limit?
Some of the things I did with my lunch buddy: Addressed Valentines. We played my brother’s favorite game that I had inherited – “Smess.” I brought games from home, but there are also many to choose from right in the library. We colored, took turns reading a book chosen from the shelves (sometimes the best way for a child to learn that they actually can enjoy different books). We wrote letters to her dad, who was in prison. Some lunch buddies prefer to move. I have watched buddies shoot hoops the entire time, just moving around and burning up energy.
Making a new friend is actually pretty easy.
If you can set aside assumptions, are open to learning more about how others live, and enjoy being around someone else for a short amount of time. The 50 minutes of so you are in the building has an unbelievable pay off for the student. They can be lonely, worried, just not sure how this life works. When they see you coming, and they get to breakout of their routine, their faces just shine with joy.
The best part?
I found I looked forward to our time together as much as my lunch buddy. We were together for three years, until she moved on to middle school.