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Friends Connect Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Autism, Children & Youth, Disabilities, Down Syndrome, Health, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Friends Connect Foundation’s mission is to provide social opportunities designed for individuals with special needs. Our age-appropriate programs assist participants in forming new friendships, improving their self-esteem and increasing their sense of belonging in the community.

Results: Friends Connect Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Middletown, NJ. Our mission is to help teenagers with special needs build self-esteem, new friendships and an improved sense of belonging through free social events such as mini golfing, holiday parties, dance lessons, gardening, cooking and more. Friends Connect Foundation has served over 400 teenagers with and without special needs at over 30 friendship events since 2018. All events are free for participants with special needs.

Target demographics: Teenagers With Special Needs

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 450 teenagers with and without special needs

Geographic areas served: New Jersey

Programs: Free friendship programs in the categories of fitness, art, music, socials and community service.

Community Stories

11 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can’t say enough about the amazing work being done through this organization. Being able to volunteer with this amazing organization has been the highlight of my year. Sophia has created a safe place for children to express themselves and that is a beautiful thing to watch every week.

Francesca D.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with FCF for over a year as a volunteer and it is one of my favorite things to do. Seeing the smiles on the participants' faces at each and every event makes my day. The bonds that these participants make with the volunteers is beautiful. Everyone has such a fun time and you can tell how much everyone that is there cares. I can't wait to do more with them in the future.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have absolutely loved my experience and time spent with the Friends Connect Foundation. The events are fun, creative, and motivating, and getting to know the awesome volunteers makes it all worth it. Everyone in this community is supportive, loving, and caring. I would not want to be more a part of any other foundation. Thanks to Sophia Ziajski, I can make great memories with our new friends. Thank you Friends Connect!

1 Jessica208

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter who has special needs loves this group and meeting new friends

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friends Connect Foundation is a wonderful organization! I’ve noticed the positive environment in every event they host and how they encourage individuals with special needs to participate in fun activities and make new, long-lasting friends.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’ve seen firsthand how Sophia puts her heart and soul into this wonderful foundation to help special needs children make friendships. Sophia and the entire FCF team work extremely hard to ensure that all the events go smoothly and contain tons of fun! I highly recommend this foundation to everyone!

2 Adriana C.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an amazing experience with Friends Connect. I was able to not only volunteer for an organization with a mission to bring value to others lives & build community, but I was also able to form connections and friendships with other volunteers and participants at each of the events. I love Friends Connect!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love this nonprofit! I had the opportunity to watch sofia grow this nonprofit and it was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen. Everyone on this team are so nice and everyone is passionate about what they do. I recommend this nonprofit to anyone.

2 Renee Memoli L.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This past summer I noticed an event shared on the Middletown pages for kids to buddy up with children with disabilities and enjoy a round of mini golf. It was an opportunity to make a new friend and have a great time during a difficult summer. My 13 year old daughter fell in love with Friends Connect. Her travel softball team all volunteered at a mini golf event in August. My daughter has attended 3 additional mini golf events. She created a kickball event, which was unfortunately rained out. Additionally, her softball team will be putting together goodie bags for Friends Connect to hand out at upcoming events. This organization is an amazing opportunity for kids and teens to expand their friendships to students with special needs, show kindness to kids who may not always receive it, and put smiles on the faces all involved. I could not be happier or prouder that my daughter is so heavily involved in this organization. As a special education teacher, it is truly an organization all kids should volunteer for.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My 13 year old twins and I have attended two events by Friends Connect. Both events were well planned and lots of fun. My kids went out of their comfort zone to engage with teens with special needs, and all gained a lot in the process. All the kids had a great time--playing games, dancing and just talking and getting to know each other. I'm so impressed with this organization and proud that my children are a part of it

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My wife and I took my 3 kids 2 of who have autism and one is developmental ly delayed to a Friends Connect event. This was a dance party with DJ and also numerous arts and crafts. What really impressed me was how organized the event was. The volunteers were absolutely wonderful. My son Marc who doesn’t last more the 20 minutes anywhere was entertained for an entire hour and a half!! The young lady who runs this is a really special person for putting the love and time to do wonderful things for special needs children. My kids do not have a lot of opportunities to attend events catered to them.

Looking forward to the next event.