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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services

Mission: The Friendship Circle's mission is to provide families who have children, teens, and young adults with special needs a full range of social and recreational experiences. At its heart is the belief that every individual, regardless of ability, can be a productive member of the community and benefit from the social support offered by one's peers. We hope that someday people with special needs will be fully included in society, replacing social isolation, bullying, and loneliness with acceptance, participation, and friendship. The Friendship Circle in San Diego held its first event in 2005, welcoming more than 20 program participants, their families and volunteers. Since then, Friendship Circle has grown to over 200 teen volunteers, 30 college-age volunteers, and 100 professional adult volunteers and serves over 100 families who have members with special needs. While medical research is finding cures for disease, the prevalence of disabilities is increasing.  Society is struggling to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities and there has been real progress.  The Americans with Disabilities Act, mainstreaming of students in classrooms, government agencies and national non-profit organizations are all working hard to level the playing field through legislation, funding, and health services.  But friendship is not on their “to do” list.  For The Friendship Circle, it is the ONLY thing on the “to do” list.

Results: We increase social skills and self-esteem of participants through one-on-one sessions with typically developing teens in the following activities: Friends@Home programs, Monthly Yoga Classes, Teen, Women's and Men's Clubs, Outings such as horse-back riding, Boomers, hiking, picnics, etc.

Target demographics: Children, teens, and young adults with developmental and other disabilities and their families living in San Diego County.

Direct beneficiaries per year: In the last seven years, over 300 families with children with special needs and 500 families of volunteers, for a total of over 2,000 people, have been involved with the Friendship Circle.

Geographic areas served: San Diego County

Programs: Friendship circle of san diego enriches the lives of children, teens and adults with special needs through social and recreational experiences and inspires volunteers to participate in building a stronger and more inclusive community

Community Stories

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Yosef David H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The opportunity to guide special needs children and young adults through various hands-on experiences at Friendship Circle San Diego programs and events has proven to be very meaningful in my life. Through this work I felt better prepared when a local family asked me to be a part-time caregiver for their daughter and son-in-law. The joy I could see beaming from the faces of those the organization serves became an added source of joy for me. FCSD is uplifting for all those involved with it and is most worthwhile to support.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I volunteer at the Friendship Circle and I have so much fun with it. It doesn't only benefit the families with special needs, it also benefits the volunteers. I have learned so much from the hours I have given and have grown in a spiritual way as well.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a Music Therapist, Special Education teacher and a volunteer for Friendship Circle of San Diego. Several times I was asked to set up a Music Resource room for parents or volunteers with their children to come and participate singly or in small groups. The activities were often related to holiday celebrations which added to the interest and enthusiasm of all concerned. I also helped to lead the entire assembly for one holiday celebration with the help of other musicians,teachers, volunteers and all the parents who came with their children. I am extremely impressed with all the activities of the San Diego Friendship Circle. First of all, the variety of activities offered are inspiring: from concerts, picnics, boat rides, horsebackriding, holiday gatherings of all varieties, which always include wonderful meals, foods and snacks which add to the awakening of all sensory experiences. Most impressive is the quality and committment of the volunteers, both teenagers who may become professionals in these fields some day and caring adults as well. This organization has a warm and efficient way of bringing the community together for activities and fund raising walks. Young people involved do become closer friends and the cooperation and volunteerism encouraged is phenomenal. It is a great source of comfort and support for so many parents with this added challenge of special needs children. As a grandmother of an extremely limited special needs child, who passed away at age 19, I experienced first hand the stress on my daughter's family, even though I helped when I could. Teenage volunteers who came on Sundays and holidays to help with his care, and also brought him to activities were so appreciated. They became like a part of our family as well. I was so touched and comforted by their involvement and I am so thankful for all the volunteers involved here in San Diego.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the privilege of volunteering on an occasional basis for the Friendship Circle. Every time I have had the opportunity to be involved, it has been a rewarding experience for me. I particularly enjoy watching my daughter's involvement as a volunteer. I think we get more out of helping the Friendship Circle than the Circle gains from our participation.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Friendship Circle is an amazing organization! Not only do they pair up children with disabilities with "friends" that allow parents some respite time, but all their events are of high quality and are set up to appeal to a variety of biological and developmental age groups.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for Friendship Circle. It has been a magnificant experience. Volunteers like myself strive to make the world a better place by volunteering and creating a sense of Unity. As I write I this I think of that famous song "We Are The World We Are The Children." So Everyone Lets Volunteer And Make The World A Better Place. Hillel Rissman

3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have found it very rewarding to help Friendship Circle. I was asked to play the guitar for some of their events. I saw so many children enjoying themselves at a number of activities on different days. Their parents seemed very happy too. I also have a teenage daughter who volunteered and it was a very valuable experience for her too. She may major in special education now.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friendship Circle does not only help people in obvious need. My children attend FSC's events with pride and always looking forward to the next event. I am in awe to witness how the devoted volunteers love, care, give warmth and supporting hands to the ones who need it. I am extremely grateful to Friendship Circle to introduce and teach unconditional acceptance to all of us.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friendship Circle has left an everlasting impression on so many peoples lives. I volunteered with Friendship Circle throughout my college years. I was matched up with a friend with special needs. Most of the time her and I would just hang out and do what most friends do with each other, have fun. Other times we would go to the planed events which were always a blast. I have made some amazing friends that to this day I still keep in touch with. This organization brightens the lives of so many people both with and without special needs.