The meaning of friendship
For friends Matti Jeffreys and Nathaniel Vossen, a shared love of music has formed the foundation of a lasting friendship. Nathaniel, a DJ, first met Matti while playing a concert in the Comox Valley. “I could see him in the audience dancing and doing these amazing movies. He was so full of energy and shouting for every song I played. After that I made a point of going to say ‘Hi’ to him.”
After their first meeting, Matti and Nathaniel then connected again through a program called Best Buddies at North Island College. Best Buddies is a national organization that helps match students and people with intellectual disabilities in one-to-one friendships based on their common interests. In the fall of 2009, a group of students and community members, with support from L’Arche Comox Valley and the Friendship Project, established a local Best Buddies chapter at the college.
Matti and Nathaniel were one of the first matches in Comox. They spent the past year hanging out and having a blast together in their community. One of their outings took place when Nathaniel invited Matti for a visit backstage at a hip hop festival taking place in the community. This was an amazing experience for Matti who met musicians from across North America.
“It’s just such a neat friendship that they share. Nathaniel has introduced him to many of his friends and they’ve gone to concerts and magazine launches together. It’s really opened the door to the local arts community that really interests Matti,” says Jay Townsend, Facilitator of the Frienship Project.
“We definitely have a shared love of music, that’s one of the key things in our friendship. It’s a huge outlet for Matti,” says Nathaniel. “At a show, if I’m on stage, friends will keep an eye on him and make sure he’s fine.”
“I feel like he’s my cousin, like we’re related. I make him laugh and we have a great time together. It’s pretty cool,” says Matti.
During the summer, the two friends were nominated for, and won, the Best Buddies Spirit of Friendship Award from among 5,000 program participants nationwide. The award honors those who encompass the true meaning of friendship. “I was shocked when I heard we won because I just didn’t feel like I’d done any work. We just have fun together and enjoy each other’s company. I guess that’s the point of friendship,” says Nathaniel.
The organization flew the pair to Toronto where they accepted their award at the Best Buddies Annual Gala on Sunday, September 12.
“Nathaniel has really connected with Matti in huge ways. Matti feels that he can be himself in good and bad times and that Nathaniel accepts that, which is what a friendship is all about,” says Amy Lynn Taylor, Program Manager for Best Buddies.
“It is my hope that this will be a lasting friendship and that they will continue to inspire others,” says Steven Pinnock, Executive Director of Best Buddies Canada.
Although their time in the Best Buddies program has ended, Matti and Nathaniel continue to meet and spend time together regularly. “Our friendship has continued on, which is really great,” says Nathaniel.
Today, there are 200 Best Buddies chapters across Canada, in most major cities and rural areas. For more information on Best Buddies at North Island College, please contact
To learn more about Best Buddies, visit their website at www.bestbuddies.ca.