NEWPORT — For the second time in three years, Salve Regina University’s chapter of Best Buddies has been selected as the Outstanding Chapter in Rhode Island.
Best Buddies International is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through empowerment and meaningful friendships. Salve Regina’s local Rhode Island chapter partners about 40 students with 40 members of the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The 2022 recognition was announced in a letter from Krista Thurstone, Best Buddies International’s deputy director of programs.
“Your team absolutely deserves this as we were so blown away by your application and all of your hard work despite this year’s obstacles,” Thurstone wrote. “We are so grateful for all of you and are just so excited to continue to support all of the amazing work you are doing in Newport for inclusion of people with disabilities.”
Caroline Duseau, ’22, Salve Regina’s chapter president who graduated in May with a double major in elementary and special education, said many things set Salve’s Best Buddies chapter apart.
“This award means the world to Best Buddies at Salve. It is a reminder that what we do is valued in our community and in making the world a more inclusive place,” Duseau said. “We have some of the most dedicated members that I have ever worked with. Their love, passion and work for our organization was clear through the whole year.”
Duseau said the chapter organized one event and one meeting each month during the school year, while balancing both in-person and virtual gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our members always look forward to seeing each other and making Best Buddies happen no matter what,” she said. “We held club trainings with guest speakers, and we had an end of the year friendship dance.”
The aforementioned dance featured a Drums Alive class, awards for each member, a walk on the red carpet, crowns, tiaras, snacks and a whole lot of smiles, according to Duseau.
“Caroline has done an amazing job in her role as chapter president,” said Debra Cherubini, their faculty advisor who also serves as assistant professor and chair of Salve’s nursing department. “She consistently demonstrated strong leadership, mentoring, and creativity in the execution of her role. We are so proud of all our students.”
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