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Troubled Kids With Caring Adults
BY DOUG R UTTER
Bob Hayes had high hopes when he
was hired a year ago to start a pro
gram that matches troubled youths in
Brunswick County with adult volunteers
willing to serve as positive role models.
But Hayes never dreamed Brunswick
Buddies would flourish like it has. He's al
ready matched 15 volunteers with 15 kids
and has a goal of making 15 more matches
by next summer.
"It's been amazing." Hayes said last
week. "We're way ahead of schedule. 1 nev
er thought it would take off this fast when I
started, although I hoped it would."
The program serves boys and girls ages 7
to 17 who have been in trouble with the law
or are otherwise at risk. Brunswick Buddies
receives referrals from the courts, social ser
vices, mental health and the school system.
The job of Hayes, and newly -hired assis
tant Rusty Garman. is to match each youth
with a compatible volunteer who can serve
as a role model and encourage involvement
in meaningful and productive activities.
Volunteers are discouraged from spending
much money on their buddies, but they are
I * asked to help teach basic living skills and do
things the kids might not normally have the
opportunity to do.
Each volunteer must commit to spending
four hours per week with their buddy for
one year. Some volunteers have to travel a
lot of miles, but Hayes says the payoff is
"We all talk about the problems kids are
having today and these people are doing
something about it," he said.
"They get a lot out of it. Many of our kids
have gone through a lot in their lives.
They've overcome a lot of adversity," he
said. "Our volunteers learn from the kids as
much as the kids learn from the volunteers."
TJ. and Marilyn Spach of Sunset Beach
both volunteer as buddies, and they say it's
one of the most rewarding things they've
ever done. TJ. has befriended a boy named
Randy, and Marilyn a girl named Crystal
This has really been great for us," TJ.
said. "I don't know how everybody feels
about their buddy, but it's one of the best
things I've had experience with down here."
Marilyn said she was a little scared at
Tint, getting involved with luda she did not
know. The fear didn't last long. Randy and
Crystal are like pan of the family now.
"We just feel it's very worthwhile. My
husband and I have been happy with both of
our children," she said. "I just can't speak
well enough about it. It's something we real
The Spachs have three grown sons living
in Ohio and say their buddies help fill the
BRUNSWICK BUDDIES gathered recently for an afternoon of fishing and crab
bing along the Southport waterfront. Below, volunteer TJ. Spach (left) spends
time with his buddy. Randy
void. TJ. volunteers despite working two
"If there's anybody remotely considering
doing something like this, they couldn't
spend their time any better," he said. "These
are kids who they might make a little differ
ence in their lives."
Brunswick Buddies doesn't accept just
One Million Every Day
BY BILL FAVER
Some statistics wc read or see
on television are almost unbe
lievable, even in this day of
few surprises. One I recently en
counted was in an article by
III in "Outdoor
and it was
tics from the
"at least one
PAVER vidual animals,
birds, reptiles and amphibians arc
killed on U. S. highways and by
ways on any given day".
I have no clues as to who count
ed or how this estimate was made,
but 365 million a year is an as
tounding number. I know we see a
lot of oppossums and raccoons on
the highways and find butterflies
and insect remains on automobile
windshields. And, in addition to
these killed, many birds and ani
mals are injured and unable to re
turn to the wild and must be cared
for in rehabilitation centers and
Zoos. Perhaps we should see this
as just the work of another "new"
predator, the high-speed automo
bile, helping to keep the balance of
It is true many of the larger
predators, like cats and wolves,
have been removed from the scene
and no longer control populations
as they once did. And the dangers
of slowing down to avoid an ani
mal on our busy highways may
cause serious accidents as well.
The "Law of Control" in nature
reminds us when populations of
any species exceed the carrying ca
pacity of the environment, the
species will begin a decline be
cause of disease, famine and relat
ed factors. Is "one million a day"
just the working out of this law of
PHOTO BY HU FAVER
THIS BABY oppossum was rescued from its road-killed mother
and fed until it was ready to be released.
There's an old story about why
the chicken crossed the road:
" Why did the chicken cross the
"To show the 'possum it could
At the rate of one million a day,
not even the chicken is safe. And
the fact the oppossum has survived
for 90 million years may be good
evidence some of them do cross the
anyone as a volunteer. AJI prospective bud
dies must provide references, go through an
interview and police background check and
complete six hours of training.
"A lot of these kids are vulnerable and
they need friendships. I would hate for them
to get close to the wrong kind of people,"
Hayes said. "We're very proud of the volun
leers we've got. The
reason being we've
been very careful in
Hayes plans to
train four new vol
unteers this month
but he is in desper
STAFF rHOTO BY DOUG tUTTER
BOB HAYES (left) and Rusty Garman stand beside a partially-completed wooden
dinghy they plan to use as part of the Brunswick Buddies program.
ate need of more, especially women and
blacks. There are currently 23 boys and girls
on the waiting list for buddies.
Hayes, who started matching kids and
volunteers in March, says he has noticed im
provement in the behavior of the children in
volved in the program.
"A lot of them come down here kind of
shy and hesitant at first," he said. "They
seem to be developing a more positive atti
tude about everything."
Added Garman, "The parents of these
kids are just really enthused about it*. The
parents have been the best indication of how
the program is working. Most of them are
not bad kids. They just need something to
Hayes and Garman, who both work part
time for Brunswick Buddies, believe they've
found an excellent activity for the kids and
adults involved in the program ? boat build
Using workshop space donated by
Southport Marina, buddies will soon go to
work on building 8-foot "Sabotina"
dinghies. Each one should take about 30
hours to complete.
"It's not a difficult boat to build. It's ply
wood construction with mahogany frames,"
He said boat building is a good activity
because it will teach the kids about electrici
ty, motors, how to use hand tools and shape
wood and how to think and use their imagi
As part of the project, youths also will re
ceive instruction in sailing and navigation.
"It's important for kids to feel a sense of
ability to say, 'I can build a boat,' and then
sail it," Hayes said. "We're not trying to turn
them into America's Cup racers, just intro
duce them to it."
Hayes has applied for state funds to pay
for materials such as wood, nails and screws
needed to build 10 boats. If the state doesn't
come through, Hayes says he'll find the
money somewhere else.
"We're going to do it. Whether they give
us this money or not we're going to do it. If
we can't get it from the state we'll go out
and beat the bushes some more," he said.
The boats will be auctioned off when they
are finished and the money raised will go
back into the program to build more boats.
Brunswick Buddies also intends to open a
nautical thrift shop in the future and sell old
outboard motors, boat hardware, fishing
gear and other supplies to raise money.
"We don't want to be fed off the public
trough. We want to be self- sufficient,"
Brunswick Buddies is part of the
Governor's One-On-One Volunteer
Program, which served 1,269 youths
statewide last year.
The program is a component of the non
profit Brunswick County Volunteer and
Information Center. Funding is provided by
VIC and the N.C. Division of Youth
For more information on Brunswick
Buddies, call Hayes at 910-754-3355 or
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