Matt, a tenant of Walnut on Highland, sat down with us to discuss his role as PA State Director of Best Buddies and his passion for working with people with disabilities. Matt first got involved with Best Buddies in High School, acting as Chapter President for four years before graduating. His interest in working in non-profit continued after college, with his first position being with the American Cancer Society in Florida. He soon moved to Philadelphia and worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association as their Executive Director, where he oversaw the Philadelphia and New Jersey region.
Eventually, Matt accepted a position as the National Director of Community Development at Cure Search for Children’s Cancer in Washington DC. For three years, he ran a team of 22 people who put on charity events all over the country, raising as much as $20 million. Although Matt loved this position, his partner’s career took them to London for two years before finally settling in Pittsburgh, where Matt took his current position as PA State Director of Best Buddies.
Best Buddies is an organization that offers one-to-one Friendship and Leadership Development programs, positively impacting nearly 42,970 individuals with and without disabilities in Pennsylvania. “Best Buddies is about being a good friend to someone and not judging someone for what you think you know about them,” says Matt.
Matt’s passion for working with people with disabilities and his passion for Best Buddies comes from the people he works with. Pennsylvania currently has a team of 7, with 4 being located in Pittsburgh, who work with local Middle Schools, High Schools, and colleges to incorporate Best Buddies into their community. This year, they are working on opening a Citizens program, which will also allow citizens to interview and be matched with a buddy in their community.
Matt is also looking forward to the Best Buddies Friendship Walk on April 22, which is a huge fundraiser for the organization. In 2016, Best Buddies PA executed Friendship Walks, attracting hundreds of buddy pairs, supporters and individuals new to the mission.
Matt describes the Friendship Walk as a great opportunity for buddies to come together and publicly show the importance of friendships with and within the Intellectual and Developmental Disability community. “The Friendship Walk brings in people from the community who don’t normally get to see our mission in action,” says Matt. The walk isn’t about endurance, but inclusion… all are welcome!