What Does BUDS Do?
BUDS is a non-profit organization in North Alabama that has existed for over 16 years and boosts almost 400 members! With the tax-deductible donations that BUDS receives, we are able to provide New Parent Packets, valued at $150, to all families with a child newly diagnosed with Down syndrome. This is incredibly important because these packets contains valuable information and resources to educate new families as they try to understand the concept of Down syndrome and how to care for a child who is different from the child they were anticipating.
BUDS is there to offer support, encouragement, and personal experience to these families as well. BUDS wants to help each family see that their child is still a precious gift… just a different gift in a different package.
BUDS also provides yearly mini-grants up to $500 for families who apply to assist them with pertinent expenses such as: medical bills and co-pays; adaptive equipment such as eyeglasses, orthotics, and hearing aids; specialized private school programs; and supplemental therapies for their special needs child. This year, BUDS has added a new grant up to $250 for families who apply to help them pay for Down Syndrome conferences and workshop fees.
With the funds we raise, BUDS also purchases tools such as wagons, rocking chairs, child seats, adaptive tricycles, and educational packets which are then donated to local schools, libraries, hospitals, and doctors offices.
Additionally, BUDS hosts and pays for monthly family events so that our families can connect with one another without the financial burden. Some of our past events have included: Southern Adventures, Tate Farms, Altitude Trampoline Park, Matrix Gym, Birmingham Zoo, and sensory-friendly movies.
BUDS also organizes monthly Dads Night Out, Moms Night Out, and Ladies Luncheons so that we can be meaningful sources of support to one another. The best resource for information and encouragement is other BUDS parents.
Finally, BUDS arranges meals and care packages for families with a newly diagnosed newborn and also for those families who may be experiencing medical emergencies and extended hospital stays. We want families to know that they are never alone.
What is BUDS Planning for the future?
BUDS recently launched a program called Family Outreach. Our primary goal is to reach every single family in North Alabama facing a new diagnosis of Down syndrome. We also want to educate local hospitals and healthcare professionals about how to approach, diagnosis, and uplift these new families. We will be meeting with medical providers, nurses, doctors, pediatricians, OB/GYNs, family practitioners, hospital directors, and social workers and presenting them with information on how to best deliver a diagnosis of Down syndrome to a new family.
BUDS will provide them with copies of our newly published Family Outreach brochure to distribute to patients facing this new diagnosis. Along with this brochure, BUDS will give these medical providers Hospitality & Welcome Gift Packets which will then be distributed to families when they deliver their little pink or blue bundle! Our mission is to serve these families from day one!
We are continually looking for ways to be the best possible resource in North Alabama for Down syndrome awareness and advocacy. None of this, however, would be possible without the tax-deductible donations from our local community. Our biggest annual fundraiser, the Rocket City Buddy Walk, provides much of the financial support for us to continue serving our special needs community. The response we get each year from the Buddy Walk continues to grow which is vital for our organization to meet the needs of families in North Alabama.