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Building a Better World for Children with Special Needs…
One Friend at a Time with The Friendship Circle!

Volunteer Appreciation Evening

The Friendship Circle at The Chai Center
Volunteer Appreciation Event, May 14, 2015

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Thank you to Assemblyman Lupinacci for your dedication and support of the teens who make a difference with Friendship and Fun!

Thank you to all the families and friends who joined the celebration of volunteerism in our community.
Thank you to CTeen for joining us and sharing in our celebration.
Thank you to Marc Salem who volunteered his talents, creativity and magical evening with The Friendship Circle.
Thank you to Councilman Eugene Cook for all your support of the dedicated and loving teens of The Friendship Circle.
Thank you to Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci for all your support of the dedicated and loving teens of The Friendship Circle.
It was truly a beautiful evening! 

Volunteer of the Month

The Friendship Circle Volunteer of the Month: January 2015

Thank you to Stephanie Bigman for sharing her love of dance and music with the children and teens of The Friendship Circle.

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My name is Stephanie Bigman. I am 14 years old. I have been dancing for 11 years and I am on a National Team at Jam Dance and Fitness Center in Dix Hills. I started Dance Inspires workshops  to share my love for dance with children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to dance. Each workshop is designed for the Community Center where it's held. The children learn an up beat dance routine to a current hit song.  The workshop ends with a dance recital in the community. At the Friendship Circle, we are having an amazing time playing games and learning the art of dance. We are learning and practicing a dance routine for a recital at the Chai Center at the end of the program. 




The Friendship Circle Hip-Hop Dance Recital was a HUGE Success!!!

Thank you to all families and friends that attended this great event and for sharing your "Simon Says" skills with us!

A BIG Thank you to Stephanie for sharing your love of dance and for organizing an outstanding Hip-Hop program for the children and teens of The Friendship Circle. The smiles and laughter shared by all was a tremendous joy for all involved. Your thoughtfulness, kindness and amazing talent developed a program that brought happiness and pride to all the families.

A Big Thank you to Rachel and Zacchariah for all your time and dedication in volunteering with the Hip-Hop Dance Program.

Thank you to all the dancers for sharing your talents with The Friendship Circle! You truly shine!!
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  Tutoring for Children and Teens with Special Needs
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Friends at Home Features

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"Zach so looks forward to every visit & never wants to leave!"

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Andie and Andrew make new friends with The Friends at Home program!

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Friends at Home with Lily and Marlee. 

Parent Feedback

I would like to say thank you to Friendship Circle and Serena Kindler for such a wonderful program.  My children count down the days and hours until their friends arrive.   Friendship Circle has given my children the opportunity to be who they are and not feel judged or worried about their behavior.  It also gives me a little well deserved downtime.

- A Very Happy Family, February 2015

My son had a wonderful time with his new friend!  She is so kind and patient.  I hope she continues to play with him.

- January 18, 2015

"Max has been a great friend to my 10 year old son. He looks forward to seeing Max every week and they really enjoy hanging out together.. Max is so kind and patient as a mentor for my son. "

- A Very Happy Mom, October 1, 2014

"Our buddy is great.  I asked her to get my son away from the computer and do other things such as games.  She brings different games all the time and they watch movies or play hide and seek.  I think we have been with the program for about 4 years.
Our first buddy still calls and comes over when he is home from college, and we all think of him as a friend.  For him, it wasn’t something to just put on his resume but making a real friendship with my son.  He has been a mentor and a great example. 
The program has helped my son to be more social and find different activities that are fun.  My son has enjoyed the program and has gotten a lot out of it."

-Mom of a buddy with The Friends at Home for the past 4 years!

"My second grader waits for her "friends" to come and have a "play date" with her. Together, they play different board games, enjoy eating snacks and just talking. My daughter's self esteem get elevated, by knowing there are girls who want to play with her each week! Our family is very thankful for the Friends at Home program."

- A Very Happy Family

"Jacob LOVES Brandon, thank you so much. He is an incredible child, so patient, so compassionate. We could not have asked for anyone so kind as Brandon and his family. Truly a pleasure. We are so grateful for the match up."

- Mom of a Friends at Home friend

"All is good with the girls, they were over last night and they lit the candles and played dreidle. I am very impressed with both girls because they are both on Varsity sports and they still find time with homework, and sports to still be able to come over every week."

- Mom of a Friends at Home buddy

"The boys are getting along great. My son is always very excited to see him!"

- Happy Parent of The Friends at Home program

Interested in having a buddy come to your home to become a friend to your child? Please email friendshipcircle@thechaicenter.com for more information about The Friends at Home program where we can have friendship and FUN!


Volunteer Feedback

Volunteer Feedback from New Teens that joined our circle of friends with The Friends at Home program - January 2015

It's been fun!  My friend is a character all right lol.  Very creative.  We played charades the other day.   He's a better baseball player than I will ever be..  A few home runs as well as broken plastic Wiffle ball.  The mom really appreciates our time with him.  My friend also teaches us the rules to all his Wii games.  Dylan and I are happy to spend time with our new friend!

- Billy

Every time Billy and I see our new friend, he has something new to share with us. While it sometimes takes him a bit to warm up to us when we come over, we're always soon laughing and gaming together. Last time we were there, his mom actually joined in on the fun and we all played charades together. It was truly a good time. I feel extremely welcome in their home and am so glad I signed up for this program. I hope the other volunteers are as lucky as we are. 

- Dylan 


From friends for over one year!! "The boys are enjoying spending every other Thursday evening with their friend! They really look forward to it!  Yes! The boys really enjoy "hanging out" with him. Thanks for running such a wonderful program!"

It was wonderful!  I really enjoyed playing with my new friend.  He is so loving and was happy to be with me.  I said we would come back next week!! - January 18, 2015

I've learned so much through this program already, I know this program is said to be that I'm making the difference in the life of another with special needs but I believe that my friend made a difference in my life as well. To hear his view on people and life, that everyone is important and some people are different but that's okay. His passion for his interest like basketball inspire me to follow what I want in life and if I am interested in something then to pursue it. I am extremely thankful to have my friend in my life and The Friendship Circle to help me find my best friend.  

I love going to the door and seeing the excitement on my friends faces. I love reading to and playing sports with them. I look forward to my weekly visits with them and will miss playing with them next year when I go to college. 

I love that my friend is so excited to see me. He always greets me with a big smile. I have so much fun spending time with him. Playing video games together is always a blast. I look forward to playing with him every week.

I love that my friend opens the door for me with a big smile on her face. I enjoy playing games with her like hide and go seek, Trouble, Mr. fox, and playing house with her stuffed animals. I look forward to playing with her every week.

- Teen Volunteer of The Friends at Home program - December 2014

Volunteer Feedback

"I have been volunteering for the Friends at Home program for over a year now and I absolutely love it! It is always nice to see a smile on your friend's face as you walk in the door! The Friends at Home program allows me get the boy I work with to get away from his video games and try something new. I bring over board games to play with him so there is more communication and sometimes we watch movies. But,  whatever we do, it is always fun! I am so glad I am a part of this amazing program!"

"Things are going great! We have formed a strong bond with our friend, and are very upset that we will not be able to see him as often (as we are indeed graduating). Our friend is a big fan of video games, so we tend to create video games to play in real life with him. We also go outside and play soccer and basketball when the weather is warmer.
We have seen a great improvement in our friend's social skills over the past four years and I will miss him greatly. Of course, when I come home for school breaks I will be sure to visit him!
Thank you for setting up this great program! It is truly making our community a better place. I plan to continue this program wherever I end up going to college, so I can make their community as great as you have made ours."
                                   - Friendship Circle Volunteer for the past 4 years!

"Things are going great with our buddy! We enjoy basketball, video games and nerf gun fights! He has learned a few basketball tricks."

"Friends at Home is going very well! My buddy at I have become great friends and it gives me great joy to make a difference in this life. We play video games together and I taught him how to share and be a good sport. He is really making progress!"

"It is going very well we are having a lot of fun...We played trouble, a rhyming game, scooby doo, and a few other things. Friends at home is an eye opening experience, but is amazing because we gain a new friend and also get to see the joy on their faces when we come." 

"Things are going great with Jacob. Glad to be part of Friendship Circle."

"Jacob is really starting to open up more and more. We are really enjoying ourselves."

"Things are going wonderful, glad to be a part of this amazing opportunity!"

"Things are going great with our friend. We see her every week and Hayley and I are always so excited to go hang out with her!! She's an amazing girl we're both so happy we've gotten this opportunity to become such good friends with her!!!" 

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Our Vision

The Friendship Circle's unique approach brings together teenage volunteers and children with special needs for hours of fun and friendship. These shared experiences empower children with special needs, while enriching the lives of everyone else involved:

Children with special needs bloom and gain the confidence they need to make the most of their abilities and talents.

Teenage volunteers learn the priceless value of giving, the curative power of friendship, and the vital importance of integrating children with special needs into the community.

Parents and siblings receive much-needed needed respite and support from Friendship Circle programs and the Friendship Circle family.

The fact is, the Friendship Circle links volunteers, children, parents, staff, and supporters in a seamless circle of friendship that makes miracles happen every day.

How You Can Help

How can you help complete the circle?

  • Do you know a teenager who would like to be a volunteer?
  • Do you know a family that can use extra help in their home with children who have special needs?
  • Would you like to support our programs and help us continue the work of the Friendship Circle?

Please contact us at: f riendshipcircle@thechaicenter.com

The Friendship Circle is made up of five parts: volunteers, children, parents, staff, and supporters. The true beauty of the Circle is how we all link together to form a seamless circle of friendship. Together, we can perform miracles.

Updates will be posted shortly.
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