Based on the foundation of V’Ahavta L’Reacha Kamocha (Love your fellow as yourself), the mission of the Friendship Circle is to:
- Engage children, teens, and adults with disabilities through a full range of experiences.
- Provide parents and families of children and teens with disabilities with much-needed respite and support.
- Enrich, inspire and motivate teens to share themselves with others.
- Create a sense of responsibility and connection to the Jewish community for teens through educational and social opportunities.
Imagine a world where certain people are relegated to live apart from society, isolated from others, without friends – without that vital connection of laughter, shared moments, and comfort, just because they are “different.” Imagine the isolation those individuals’s families feel watching their loved ones left out.
Now picture the reverse. Visualize a community transformed—a group that recognizes the common thread that runs through each of us, regardless of age, ethnicity, background, etc. By reaching past ourselves and into the lives of others, we find meaning, purpose, and love.
The Friendship Circle brings that vision alive. The Circle’s unique formula introduces teenage volunteers to children with disabilities, and through shared experiences, all the youth are enriched. The Friendship Circle nurtures a new generation of communal leaders. Going beyond the youth, families and adult volunteers join the Circle and together all enjoy meaningful social and Judaic activities in a truly inclusive community.
The Friendship Circle of Houston was established in 2004 and has grown to include at least 25 kids with disabilities and their families, 40 adults with disabilities and their families, 50 teen volunteers and 40 young and not-so-young adult volunteers.
The Circle grows each year. What started as an effort to realize the community’s responsibility for all its members, has grown to bring friendship to children and adults with disabilities; enhance the lives of their parents; foster the value of volunteerism among our youth; and enrich the lives of all involved.
The Friendship Circle (FC) works to build an inclusive community through a variety of volunteer, social, Jewish and educational programs. FC pairs teen volunteers with kids with disabilities for weekly play-dates, hosts regular inclusive Jewish and social programs including bowling parties and Shabbat dinners, leads educational workshops in schools and youth groups throughout the greater Houston area, hosts an annual community-wide Friendship Walk and more!
The full range of programs offered by Friendship Circle gives every individual involved the opportunity to recognize their potential and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.