Dani Budoff, a 16-year-old rising senior in high school, started having virtual conversations with seniors before Conversations to Remember was founded. Now a senior volunteer, Dani continues to participate on two calls a week and helps train new students for their calls.
A friend of co-founder Aaron Lefkowitz, Dani was one of the first members of Conversations to Remember. The two did weekly virtual visits with a senior they are still on a call with today. “I was actually part of it five or six months before it was C2R,” she said.
Dani started volunteering when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Like many others, safety measures disrupted her usual routine. In March 2020, when Aaron extended an invitation to participate in virtual visits, Dani started doing weekly video calls.
“I loved it right away. It was a very rewarding and amazing experience,” she said. Being able to connect with seniors and provide solace for them in times of isolation and loneliness made the Conversations to Remember mission more meaningful for Dani.
Thanks to her extensive experience, Dani helps train new student volunteers for calls as a senior volunteer. She is also focused on her weekly calls. But, as she put it, she has worked on various aspects of the organization during her time with Conversations to Remember.
“It’s crazy because I’ve seen it grow from not an organization, just three people,” she said. As someone who has been with Conversations to Remember from the start, Dani said seeing the widespread support for the program has been very meaningful. “We thought it was going to be maybe 20 volunteers. Clearly, it’s not just that now.” Conversations to Remember has hundreds of student volunteers from all across the United States, something Dani never anticipated when she begin her first video conversation at the beginning of the pandemic.
Looking ahead, Dani is focused on her post-pandemic Conversations to Remember experience. Even as she dedicates more time to her personal and academic life, Dani intends on working with Conversations to Remember long term. “I helped to start this — I’m not going anywhere.”