Raising a child with special needs can be a challenging experience, and the volunteers and coordinators of Friendship Circle of the Jean Fischman Chabad of the Five Towns provide a lifeline to these families, creating educational and social programs tailored to their unique situations. As Chari Siegel, a mom in North Woodmere, notes, Friendship Circle is “a safe place where all kids get to be kids. They are accepted and appreciated for who they are. We can’t thank them enough.”
Children with special needs often feel the demoralizing sense of not “fitting in” and not “meeting expectations.” Friendship Circle volunteers engage children at their level, boosting the children’s self-esteem through the sense of accomplishment and unconditional love and support. The results can be seen in the huge smiles and advancements that come from each visit and program. One mom reported, “Yoni was so happy with his award. This year has been a wonderful experience. There were so many special moments.”
With at-home visits, Judaica Circle, Sunday programs, sibling programs, and a new culinary program, children with special needs become involved not only with individual volunteers and programs but with a larger social network filled with caring, understanding, and dynamic individuals.
The program has had quite an impact on thousands of lives in the Five Towns since its formation ten years ago. If you have not personally felt a difference, surely many people at your shul and school can report firsthand the incredible benefits of Friendship Circle.
On Sunday, November 2, the community is welcome to come show their support for the organization, the volunteers, the families, and the children at the third annual Bike for Friendship Circle event. This year, walkers are encouraged as well. The route begins at 1:15 p.m. at Chabad of the Five Towns, 74 Maple Avenue in Cedarhurst, and follows a set path, returning to Chabad where the fun, food, and entertainment begin at 2:00 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to ride, walk, sponsor, or just enjoy.
The Friendship Circle truly appreciates the sponsors of this year’s event. The presenting sponsor is Rosewood Realty Group. Lantern Wealth Advisers LLC, Traditions Eatery, Gourmet Glatt, South Shore Bicycle and Fitness, and NY Inflatables are also graciously sponsoring. To register, sponsor, or get more information, visit www.Bike4Friends.com, call 516-295-2478, ext. 13, or e-mail Batsheva@chabad5towns.com.