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Mission Statement


 “Visited with The Friendship Circle: teams teen volunteers with special needs kids. Great Miami program. So many good people making a difference every day!”
– Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, United States Congress House Representative


“I think it’s important because at the end of the day you get a lot more from the Friendship Circle then you give. Not only does the child with special needs gain a true friend, the parents get respite in the home, but you also realize how much you can accomplish – making one person feel better is really changing the world. Also, when being a buddy to a child with special needs…you realize how lucky we are as people.”  
– Adam Epelbaum,  Silver Knight Award | Friendship Circle Volunteer (6 years)

“For the past four years, the Friendship Circle has been a central part of our family.  Since our son Matthew was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome at two years old, his Friendship Circle friends have been there every week without fail to be his friend.  They never judged him for being different, always just wanting to be his friend.  Through the teen’s dedication, patience, and love, they have taught our entire family that there will always be a place where Matthew will be accepted just as he is.”
– Michele Kaplan, Parent 

“The Friendship Circle is a unique charity that focuses on social enrichment for children who ordinarily don’t get the opportunity to spend time with other teens.”
– Tracey Berkowitz, Donor 

“Friendship Circle ROCKS!”  
– Diego, Special Friend

“The Friendship circle provides the opportunity for children with special needs to spend quality time with “community children”. The relationships built are at a much deeper core level than between adults and special needs children. This is an important part of the therapeutic process for these children because it opens windows for further developmental progress that would otherwise not necessarily occur.”
– Dr. Trevor Resnick MD, Chief, Department of Neurology, Miami Children’s Hospital, Medical Professional

“I volunteer at Friendship Circle because of the way my buddy can have fun and smile through all of his disabilities - it is worth it!  To think of how tough his life is saddens me, but as soon as I see him play and his eyes light up when he looks at pictures of Shrek I can’t help smiling.”
– Evan Kravetz, Teenage Volunteer

“Sometimes I wonder why and how Friendship Circle has become such a big part of my life…but recently I realized that is isn’t just me.  Friendship Circle is a defining feature of all of the lives of both volunteers and special friends because it gives us an opportunity to come together and make a visible, regular change in the lives of a child who deserves it.  But we don’t just change their lives; we change our lives as well.”
– Sophia Shoulson, Teenage Volunteer

“The Friendship Circle has given my Sunday mornings a whole new meaning. Watching Ethan grow has truly shown me what the Friendship Circle means. His smile and his kisses on the forehead not only show the beautiful change within himself, but he has also changed me more than I could have every imagined.”
– Leah Friend, Teenage Volunteer

“Tonight (at the Evening of Tribute) as we gather here thanking the volunteers, I can’t help but think that we should have a night in honor of our special friends. Because, honestly, I can’t imagine that I have given as much to my friend, Matty, as he has given to me. The Friendship Circle has completely changed my life, opening it up and giving me a whole new perspective of what is important and what matters. So if I were asked who performed the real mitzvah here, I would definitely respond with “Matthew Kaplan”, my special friend.”
– Miriam Singer, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer

“I’ve had the most amazing experience these past three years in the Friendship Circle. Nothing feels more special than seeing the look on Sofia’s face every time my partner and I hang out with her. I look forward to seeing her every week and really enjoy being in the Friendship Circle. I am so honored to have such an incredible opportunity being a President in the Friendship Circle and I can’t wait to continue my next two years with her (Sofia)!”
– Harley Weinstein, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer

“The Friendship Circle has been a part of my life throughout high school. My special friend Matty is like a little brother. I love making him happy and most of all making him feel good about himself. The important thing about the Friendship Circle is that both parties benefit. For example, I am fortunate every Wednesday to be a friend to Matty and he is here in my life to make me a better person. Thank you to the Friendship Circle for making Matty a part of my life!”
– Jacob Steig, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer

“Friendship Circle has been a great experience for me. It is such an amazing program and I’m so glad to have been a part of it. It is such a special and unique opportunity and a great way to spend my time. I enjoy every visit to Jake’s house when I can see how much of a good time he’s having. I can’t wait until the next time I get to see him and the big smile on his face!”
– Carly Girnun, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer

“On one fateful day in 2010 I was paired with Diego as my Friendship Circle buddy. Since then we have forged an incredible bond that has affected my life nearly as much as Diego’s. I haven’t just had the opportunity to help someone, but to help a friend, someone I care about! It makes my day just to see my buddy go home with a smile – to feel like he has someone to count on, a friend. With Friendship Circle it’s all in the name!”
– Ben Troen, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer

“My experience with the Friendship Circle has been a truly unforgettable journey. When I started volunteering at Children’s Circle in 7th grade I would have never believed how attached I would grow to my special friend, along with all of the other kids and volunteers as well! As the year progresses and you see your buddy more often, you begin to see an emotional change as well as a physical one. They are always smiling and tugging on your shirt so you can go play with them. They get excited and run up to you with you first greet them! They pout and refuse to go home when the program is over. All of these moments and more contribute to the reasons why I love the Friendship Circle…but the main one is that I have gained a lifelong friend and so has she!”
– Iara Dircie, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer

“I’ve been with the Friendship Circle for the past three years and I have had the best experience. Every week I look forward to hanging out with Sofia. It’s the best feeling to be able to make her laugh and smile and knowing I hold a special place in her heart. Friendship Circle has really impacted my life, knowing I’m making a change in the community. I am so happy I decided to be a part of the Friendship Circle program. It is amazing and I look forward to my future visits to Sofia!”
– Samantha Sarason, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer

“Having completed my 5th year now with my special friend Stevie, I truly see the impact that this organization has on both the special friends and the volunteers. Five years ago when I started as a volunteer, I didn’t know what to expect. Week by week my friendship with Stevie gradually grew as he would grow more accustomed to the situation of me coming to his house once a week. As the months went on I began to notice great changes with our friendship. He started to understand what I would say and I was able to understand what he wanted to do through his actions. Now I can definitely describe Stevie as a “friend”, not just a “special friend”. He really is a meaningful part of my life, and I look forward to our upcoming years together.”
– Ethan Kalish, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer

“The Friendship Circle is an amazing program, and to me it makes me feel like I am a part of something bigger. It is great to know that you mean so much to someone. When I first started it was sort of nerve racking, but after a while of seeing your special friend you feel amazing! This is an experience that comes once in a life time, and you should embrace it!”
– Matthew Rosenberg, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer

“Being in the Friendship Circle has been a life-altering experience for me. I have learned many valuable lessons playing with my friend, such as patience and understanding. I always look forward to seeing the smile on my special friends face when I greet him and when we play together. Not only does my special friend have a wonderful time at Friendship Circle, I truly enjoy hanging out and being his friend. The Friendship Circle creates an incredible bond between you and your friend that can’t be matched anywhere else.”
– Brandon Harris, FC President’s Club 2012, Teenage Volunteer