Hey, Buddy

Hey, Buddy

A community that gets better together

Words by Miranda Shaffer
Illustration by Dasha Lebedev

Imagine falling into the middle of the ocean with no one for miles around. You would likely feel fear, panic, and despair. Now imagine seeing a boat. Your fear turns to hope—you’re saved! The Buddys app is the digital manifestation of a lifeboat for those drowning in tragedy and loss.

Created by James and Caitie Morgan after the tragic loss of their son, the Buddys app is a digital support group for those experiencing grief and other challenges. At the time of their tragedy, James and Caitie were blessed to find friends who had experienced a similar loss, and it was with their help the Morgans were able to move forward. “Having that connection and accountability partner to be able to reach out to and talk about what we were going through made us feel like we weren’t alone,” James says. The Morgans soon decided it was their calling to help others going through grief as they had been helped. The Buddys app was born to fulfill that dream by offering the same community that had pulled them out of a dark place.

The app, available for free download on Apple Store or Google Play, allows its users to find others going through similar hardships and connect with them. After signing up, users pick whichever topic best describes their current struggle. There are five broad topics to choose from on the app: Family and Parenting, Loss of a Loved One, Medical, Mental Health, and Relationships. Each broad topic offers subsections, such as Adoption or Pregnancy under Family and Parenting, and Anxiety or Depression under Mental Health. There’s also the option to enter your location, hobbies, job, and religious affiliations to find a community of people perfect for you. 

When James and Caitie lost their son, they found similar communities out there, but had to read dozens of posts to see if they could relate well enough to message those people privately to talk about deeper emotional topics. Buddys is special because it offers an instant private connection. “What makes us really different is that we have an algorithm that helps match you with other Buddys like you based on the information you provide,” James says.

Once preferences are added, you can join a variety of community group chats with dozens of users. From there, you can friend request specific people and start private conversations with those with whom you relate best. “Nobody talks to a therapist every day, but you can talk with someone every day on Buddys,” James says. All information is completely protected through the app, and users can give only the life details they are comfortable giving.  

The Buddys app logo has a special double meaning, one being that the two uppercase Bs create a butterfly symbol, which represents the transformation and growth James and Caitie hope their users achieve from using it. “Our users start with a life challenge, but then they grow, and when they do, it’s more beautiful on the other side—just like a butterfly,” he says. The second meaning comes from Caitie’s father, who’s name was Buddy. They lost him to cancer, and the name honors him.

The Buddys app was created in the fall of 2020, with the pandemic in full swing, and it already has around 600 users across 30 states. The timing could not have been better, with many lacking a necessary community due to quarantining and health safety precautions that prevented face-to-face interactions. Even as the COVID-19 restrictions are removed and people can gather in person again, many are still missing that unique community that Buddys can offer them. Whether it’s a death, breakup, or anxiety, there are new friends waiting to be made on the app that can relate and help you through it all.

The app is growing daily, and James and Caitie plan to partner with churches and mental health professionals. They hope to start this collaboration in the Birmingham, Alabama, area, looking forward to getting feedback on how to grow and improve. “The plan is to continue to grow it and add new features, because bringing value to our users is our number-one goal,” James says. They are also considering doing events where users can meet in person. 

“I think we all see the slogan, ‘It’s OK to not be OK,’ and I think that’s so true. I think that’s life. Life is very hard, and we need each other to get through it. We’re better when we’re together,” James says.