Mostly students took the stage at Clinton Human Services’ (CHS) first Open Mic Night, singing current hits under a disco ball. So 91-year-old Bud Vece stood out a little with his renditions of “New York, New York” and “My Way”.
“The kids were very respectful, but I wondered if I really belonged there,” says Bud, who’s lived in Clinton his entire life. As he sat down, Ally Goguen, a teen-aged volunteer, complimented his performance and urged him to come again. “I’ll be looking for you,” Ally warned Bud.
Because “sports are not my forte,” says Ally, she had searched for other after-school activities and found them with CHS Youth and Family Services. Staffers encouraged Ally to lead hikes, take peer advocate training, and volunteer for Open Mic Night.
Bud grew up in Clinton and raised his 5 children in the town he loves. He has always been involved in town activities, driving the town’s first ambulance, and creating its hurricane emergency response plan.
He did return to Open Mic Night of course, and kept singing the music he practices for 90 minutes daily. He and Ally became close friends; she would stop by his house after leading hikes, and called him for long weekly chats even after leaving for college.
Ally and Bud’s unique connection was forged through Clinton Human Services, and will last a lifetime. “She’s a special person,” says Bud. “I call her one of my grandchildren.” Ally says in turn, “I’d call him my best friend.”