“Best Buddies” Extends Radical Hospitality Beyond Campus Borders

Shannon Salter (left), president of Best Buddies, with her Buddy, Bethany.
Written By Becca Karpenko

If you attend the Involvement Fair this Tuesday, September 13th, you may see a new student org with a colorful, eye-catching logo: two people with their arms looped around one another with the words “Best Buddies” above them in purple lettering.

If you’re wondering what Best Buddies is, you’re not alone. Not many people have heard about the organization, especially not in Northeastern Wisconsin. In fact, there was not a Best Buddies chapter at all in Northeastern Wisconsin, that is, until Shannon Salter came to St. Norbert College.

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The vision of Best Buddies is a simple and poignant statement: “To put Best Buddies out of business.” The organization hopes to include and integrate those with intellectual and developmental disabilities so much so that they become part of the community, part of our circles, and one of us, not one of them.      (Source: bestbuddies.org)

Shannon, originally from Milwaukee, has been involved with Best Buddies since her freshman year of high school. Upon coming to St. Norbert, Shannon realized that something was missing from her life on campus.

“I really craved and missed [Best Buddies] my freshman year here,” explains Shannon.
Shannon also realized she didn’t see a big focus on integrating people with disabilities and building relationships with them on campus.

“I wanted to see a sense of inclusion for all individuals, especially for those with disabilities. That’s what St. Norbert is all about: radical hospitality and community engagement.”


Shannon is now a junior at St. Norbert, and her dream is finally coming alive; this fall will be the first time that Best Buddies is an official student org on campus.

“Everyone’s excited,” says Shannon, who will be serving as the president of Best Buddies and working with the other student leaders: Katie Potter, Abigail McIntyre, and Zachary Langer.

Her freshman year, Shannon participated in the Friends With Disabilities trip through the TRIPS program. The trip opened her eyes to the number of people who were likewise passionate about including and appreciating those with disabilities.

“Everyone knows someone with a disability,” says Shannon. “We’re all on the same playing field.”

After the trip, Shannon began to inquire about starting a Best Buddies chapter on campus. She worked with LSE office to get approval from the Best Buddies corporate headquarters to receive the go-ahead to begin the club.


Shannon with Bethany, her buddy for three years. They became buddies when Shannon was a sophomore, and have stuck together ever since.“Bethany had three sisters. When she got Broadway tickets for Mary Poppins as a present, she didn’t want to take anyone except me,” says Shannon, laughing. “Her parents were like, I guess you’re part of the family.”


Best Buddies essentially partners people with those who have disabilities to “share life.” At SNC, students have the option of being a Peer Buddy or an Associate Member. Peer Buddies are more involved with the lives of their buddies and must regularly keep in contact with them. Students who cannot make a significant time commitment can be Associate Members. These members will attend meetings and large group events with all the buddies, such as movie nights, Packer games, and other activities.

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Shannon and other St. Norbert students at the Best Buddies Friendship Walk in May 2016.


Since this year is the first official year of the student org, Shannon mainly hopes to spread awareness about Best Buddies and gain student involvement. Her goals for the student org reflect St. Norbert’s own commitment to radical hospitality and community engagement.

Students who want to get involved can visit the Best Buddies table at the Involvement Fair or directly contact Shannon at shannon.salter@snc.edu. The first informational meeting will be on Tuesday, September 20th from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Cofrin 15.

You may also see some of the Best Buddies leaders at SNC Day, where Poppin Z’s, an organization whose mission is to enhance the lives of those with intellectual disabilities, will be selling popcorn and donating all the proceeds to Best Buddies. 

Get Involved

Shannon’s passion for sharing life and including the excluded is evident. Her bright disposition on life is inspiring and is well-fitting on a campus that values hospitality and inclusion so greatly. We can all benefit from stepping out of our comfort zone to not only lift up others but also to realize that we are all on the same level.

“Put yourself in a vulnerable place,” says Shannon. “We need to be out there, serving and living with the community.”

Shannon encourages all students to get involved with something on campus that they are passionate about.

“Being involved help me see where my passions lie. I focused on injustices in the community, then made it my minor, and then my major,” explains Shannon.

“Take a risk and try something you don’t know much about,” advises Shannon. “Don’t sign up for everything! I was that freshman that signed up for everything. Put your heart into a few clubs.”

Shannon certainly lives out her words. After graduation next year, she hopes to live in the community for some time, either working at Best Buddies or L’Arche, before continuing on to graduate school.

“I want to see what the community needs before going to grad school,” states Shannon.

Although Shannon may soon be moving on from the St. Norbert campus, her passion and heart for those with disabilities will certainly continue to impact students long beyond her time here. Her openness and warm smile will without a doubt touch the hearts of many, both near and far.

(source: quotefancy.com)


Silver Lining with M.S.

Written by Jaime Notzen

Kappa Beta Gamma, a sorority at St. Norbert College, held their 14th annual Multiple Sclerosis Benefit on March 12, 2016.

They were able to raise a grand total $3,583.45 for their philanthropy. 

The event, which features a dinner, silent auction, and raffle, annually donates all proceeds to the M.S. Society of Wisconsin. All donations aid in the research for a cure or enhanced treatments for those who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis.

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4 Perks of Academic Service-Learning

written by Jaime Notzen

St. Norbert College offered two community engagement opportunities for J-Term 2016.

Dr. Laurie MacDiarmid’s Creative Nonfiction Workshop course introduces students to creative nonfiction (personal essay, memoir and literary journalism). Her J-Term class, deemed “The Fab Five”, didn’t write your usual run-of-the-mill essays; instead, they wrote about their own experiences, and became comfortable enough to share them with one another. After learning how to share their own stories, the Fab Five went out into the community to teach sixth graders how to do the same.

Dr. Erik Brekke’s course, Physics in the Arts, illustrated the physics of light, colors, and sound waves. After applying this knowledge to photography, visual art, and music, Dr. Brekke’s class went to several elementary school classrooms to teach them in an engaging approach to the sciences.

While J-Term has passed, there are opportunities to sign up for community engagement courses in upcoming semesters. Here are 4 perks of Academic Service-Learning as experienced by our two J-Term classes.

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International Poverty­ Trip: St. Lucia

by Carissa Trepanier

Through the Good News Project Inc. and the St. Norbert College TRIPS Program, I have been in St. Lucia for almost two weeks now on a service trip.  As I write this blog just two nights before departure on a weak signal of wifi, I can’t help but want to share every experience with you.  I promise you this blog won’t be a description of my every move but instead will be about what I’ve strived for on this trip and what I am determined to implement into my life back in Wisconsin.


The people of St. Lucia get it.  Time is valuable and they demonstrate a simple but hardworking lifestyle.

We saw extreme poverty and yet the people living in these horrible conditions seemed to have the greatest PATIENCE, JOY, and FAITH. A fellow student at St. Norbert, Alex Velicer, summed it up nicely saying, “Poverty is struggling to survive NOT struggling to live.”

We live in a world full of busy and distracted people, wouldn’t you agree?

Sometimes busyness feels like a blessing! There are long days at work that we can’t wait to have fly by, we love social media and staying connected with friends, and we feel purpose when we exercise our talents.

On the other hand, and arguably way too often, busyness isn’t so fulfilling.  Busyness can leave us lying in bed over thinking things we could have done differently or hoping and praying tomorrow will go as planned, when really so much is out of our control.

Time is valuable.  Time is not guaranteed. Yet we spend most of our time neglecting to reflect; suggesting instead of resting.

God’s word is a great place to find truth about time and balance.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Think about it from a different perspective…

24 hours in a day

1,440 minutes in a day

86,400 seconds in a day

10,080 minutes in a week

Where’s your sense of simplicity in it all?  You know the part where you get a breather and count your blessings?  Funny how we yearn for simplicity but quicker than we realize add another task to our to-do list.

I’ve put together two tips that have and will continue to propel me forward in my difficult but rewarding journey of gradual simplicity.


Take time for yourself. Read for 20 minutes or do a craft/hobby for a half hour. Literally it can be as simple as being in a place you normally don’t spend your time in and just sit. Easier said than done right? Wrong.  Well, technically true but really it just takes a strong person to put themselves and their joy first.  I truly believe in you. It really isn’t selfish when you think about it.  Yes, it may mean giving up time with or for other people for whatever length you need, but I’m quite positive that time you do spend with family or friends will be so much more REWARDING, POSITIVE, and MEANINGFUL.


Do these words make you feel overwhelmed? They do for me. I don’t “have time” to volunteer hours of my time every week and I’m sure you don’t either.  So I don’t. Instead, my advice would be to live your everyday life doing simple tasks with GREAT love.  Now that’s giving.  Give an extra smile to the person you don’t know, care more than half-asking the known all too well greeting “how ya doin?” and not listening to the response, or write a note to someone or compliment them on their positive traits/characteristics.

It’s true.  “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the WAY YOU MADE THEM FEEL.” –Maya Angelou

Girls Night Out: 9 years later! A YMCA Spotlight

Written by Jaime Notzen

roblesRuby Robles, a junior at St. Norbert College, had a chance to relive her elementary school years through the Michels Hall Program.

After learning how to make healthy lifestyle choices at Girls Night Out 9 years ago, Ruby became a GNO mentor as a sophomore in college.

Her story exemplifies how service comes full circle; it’s a chain reaction!

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5 Dance Marathon Moments that Captured Our Hearts

Written by Jaime Notzen

Throughout the third annual St. Norbert College Dance Marathon, we danced, and we cried, and we laughed, and had a really, really, really good time. 

On Saturday, October 24th, over 200 dancers stood for 13.1 hours straight For The Kids. No sitting, no kneeling, no caffeine; only dancing, reflecting, and celebrating. Participants raised thousands of dollars for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Dance Marathon prepared year-round to make those meaningful 13.1 hours a reality. But before they jump back into planning mode for next year, we want to make sure the organization and the community can reflect on the impact of this incredible event. Here are 5 Dance Marathon moments that captured our hearts.  Continue reading