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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services

Mission: The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh was established in 2006 with the intention of creating a more inclusive community. Our programs engage youth and adults with diverse abilities in a full range of social activities; we aim to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions, creating lasting friendships that strengthen both the Jewish and greater communities.

Target demographics: create an inclusive community with people of all diverse abilities and interests, bringing them together through social programs, experiences, and leadership opportunities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 350 members of all abilities throughout the community

Geographic areas served: Greater Pittsburgh

Programs: Friends at Home, Sunday Circle, Jewish Holiday Programs, Winter Camp, Gymnastics Club, Sports League, Cooking Club, Creative Arts Club, Book Club, Bowling League, Girls Dance Club, and many more!

Community Stories

24 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Friendship circle has been such an important part of my life for the almost last 10 years. Having gone from being a volunteer in high school to eventually becoming a staff member at the friendship circle, I’ve gotten to make memories that will last a life time and friends that quickly became my family. The friendship circle has always been my home away from. A place where I truly feel like I can be myself. Whether it was a picking apples at Simmons farm or sitting at my desk planning our next holiday party, the friendship circle has been such a positive light in my life. I am so thankful to apart of this amazing circle.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Where do i begin? This organization goes above and beyond on a daily basis. From the countless opportunities to contribute, to the programming- the friendship circle continues to think of everything to make our community a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone to belong!!

Alexa T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My time as a program staff member at The Friendship Circle has been such a great experience. The impact I see this organization make on every one of its members is so great. During my time here I have seen members grow, flourish, and really come out of their shells to make meaningful friendships. The Friendship Circle’s variety of clubs and opportunities for inclusion give every member something to be excited about. The Friendship Circle staff and volunteers work so hard to make everyone’s experience there the best it can be, and that’s why I will always hold this organization close to my heart.

Sara P.6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

There is so much to love about The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh which makes it difficult to pinpoint just a few of the many positives. What makes The Friendship Circle such a special place to be is its mission and the values that The Friendship Circle elevates everyday. The Friendship Circle offers a welcoming, inclusive and engaging environment where friendships are made and all individuals are accepted. Through fun and meaningful activities, The Friendship Circle offers a connected community. Feeling socially connected, especially in an increasingly isolated world, is more important than ever! Often the benefits of friendship and social connectedness are often overlooked but The Friendship Circle always puts friendship, social connectedness and inclusion first, fostering a higher quality of life for all.


Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience volunteering and helping as program staff for The Friendship Circle has given me so many fun memories and opportunities to join a variety of amazing community events! Being at the Friendship Circle truly makes you feel like you are a part of the most caring and supportive group of people! Everyone who is a part of this community will go above and beyond to make sure every individual has a place where they feel like they belong. I have never left a Friendship Circle event without a smile on my face and a heart full of happiness :)

Leighann C.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Working at The Friendship Circle has brought such meaning and purpose to my life. It's not just a job, but a warm and welcoming place with a lot of heart that seeks to help people feel included and supported, which couldn't be more important in our world today. I really value the time I've spent at FC and the people I've met, and to see the happiness in friends' faces when they see each other is really special and reminds me how important inclusion really is. Looking forward to many more good times to come!

Avi W.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The values of inclusivity and camaraderie that the Friendship Circle excells in unequivocally enhance the quality of our community. The warm and embracing environment to its diverse base is unparalleled, and some of our closest friendships have been formed through the opportunity FC provides. My children love coming and participating with their spectacular array of events and programs.

Yafa S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Last night I cried until midnight, my sweet little girl seems to not understand virtual school, the girl once we thought was the smartest doesn’t pay attention to the teacher on a screen, she doesn’t answer questions, she doesn’t wave her hand like the other kids in the Autism Spectrum Disorder that are in her classroom. She just draws her favorite cartoon characters and the flowers that her mother taught her how to draw, the same ones that her mom used to draw in the classroom while the teacher was talking. Last like I cried for her, I felt that she was not capable of so many important things.

Today I went to the Friendship Circle welcome activity, they told us that she would be welcomed in so many clubs, that they would make an afford to understand her, to be her friend. I tried to not to cry out of happiness. A juggler was throwing balls in the air and she was smiling and at the end her new friends gave her a hot dog. A sweet and warm clown standing in stilts waved at her, he may doesn’t know it, but every time we see him he brightens our day, she saw him and I knew deep in my heart that she recognized him. Our friends brightened our day today and now I know that there’s a place where she will be smart, bright and beloved.

Katy Rank L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My middle son has always struggled to be successful in most environments. He would go into a panic or have tantrums...we were working to figure out what was wrong but in the meantime, we ached to see how he struggled with social relationships. Friendship Circle became a safe space for him! The staff there enabled him to succeed at activities for the first time ever, and he was cooking and doing crafts, enjoying performances. He also began to interact with the other children there of all abilities, and feel like he had something valuable to contribute. Even after his OCD and dyslexia diagnosis, Friendship Circle has remained a vital part of his therapeutic approach. What a gift to have such a safe space to be fully himself and find acceptance and understanding and friendship!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a staff at the Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh and I truly cannot express in enough words how lucky I feel to work here. My fellow staff members have been incredibly welcoming and encouraging, and the FC members light up my day each time I work a program. I have made so many friends and lifelong memories and I am so grateful!

2 Drew A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've loved volunteering here. The Friendship Circle is a great experience for everyone who visits, whether they are a client or a volunteer at the programs. Their work in the Squirrel Hill community has been amazing and the neighborhood wouldn't be the same without them.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh - Fun, friendly, caring, helpful, thoughtful, community and family. All words that come to mind when I think of all those involved with the Center. A great place to be whether you are an employee, volunteer or member.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Where do I begin? The Friendship Circle has been changing my life for the better since 2006. The Friendship Circle provides a place where all are welcome and can be comfortable in their own skin. The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh recognizes everyones human potential and is committed to creating a place where all individuals are valued and accepted. The friendships that evolve from Friendship Circle are one of a kind. I have been able to attend every single one of Friendship Circle's programs and witness firsthand how relationships flourish and individuals thrive. I will always love my time at Friendship Circle. It is truly an amazing organization!

jac

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Friendship Circle is magical -- especially when filled with the energy and smiling faces of the clients it serves. Providing inclusive programs and activities allows people to make meaningful connections, both to the organization and -- more importantly -- to each other.

8 Cara P.2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I moved to Pittsburgh from North Carolina just so that I could become a part of The Friendship Circle family. The mission of this organization is one that I am incredibly proud to represent. I am so thankful everyday to work in such an amazing place!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

There are so many wonderful charities and non-profit organizations out there but rarely do you come across one that goes the extra mile and really cares for the community.
I first became aware of The Friendship Circle when my daughter volunteered there while in grade schools and then in high school. Their aim to include ALL children in their activities is amazing.
To involve special needs kids in outings around the city and even in at home visits create relationships among the kids and older children volunteers that can last a lifetime. I’ve never been around so many genuine, sincere and dedicated people determined to make a difference in these kids lives as the Friendship Circle staff.
In my line of work I often donate samples to organizations in a tri-state area and come across so many worthy and credible groups but none that show the love and support that Friendship Circle display on a daily basis.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Friendship Circle has been such an important part of, not only my daughter’s life, but my family’s. Sydney has attended FC for well over 10 years. You could say she has “grown up” there. Rabbi Mordy and Rivkee welcomed our family from the very beginning. We quickly felt included not isolated. I wish I could list all the Staff that have helped us throughout the years and continue to do so. No problem was or is too big for them to solve. It’s effortless for them. Everything handled with grace. Attending Mom’s Night Out events has allowed me to bond with other moms who know exactly what my story is. Everyone listens and advises. Lastly, Syd has met so many friends. She has participated in many events and outings. She has been able to practice her social skills and converse about anything and everything. For this, my husband and I have been and will continue to be extremely grateful. Life wouldn’t be the same without FC! FC has changed our lives!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hello,
My son Michael has been participating in Friendship Circle activities since its inception. He loves all the activities they have, even those that with anyone else, he would not want to participate in. He is now on a leadership committee for Friends on the Town, a subgroup for older individuals.
One of the best, of all the wonderful things they have done, is create a lot of programming for individuals over 18. This group does not have many other groups catering to them. As a parent of a special needs adult, I am so grateful for this group; it has given my son a social life beyond my expectations. Barbara Wolvovitz

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Friendship circle is such a welcoming place. I had a hard year in 7th grade and the staff were so welcoming. Hayli Firtell was so amazing and the staff were awesome. Rabbi Mordy Rudolph was accepting and Rivkee Rudolph was awesome .

Stephanie B.7

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Friendship Circle has made such a difference in my daughter's life. We joined a year ago. Our first activity was apple picking. When we walked in to join the group, I noticed another child with autism having an EPIC meltdown, just the kind my daughter has anywhere from once to twenty times a day. I caught my breath....waiting for what I normally experience as a mom...the stares, the under the breath comments. None of that came. The child was accepted for who she was and where she was. Her mother was supported by the other parents. We have all been there. I knew that day that we found a place where Evelyn could find friends. In the past 2 years, Evelyn has been invited to ONE birthday party. She has been invited to zero sleepovers and zero playdates. Friendship circle gives her what so many other families take for granted.....playdates, birthday parties, social activities. Fun with her peers! It has made a huge difference for evelyn to feel accepted and be allowed to be herself. She is learning to be a friend.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh, www.fcpgh.org, inspires my whole family to give. The Friendship Circle is dedicated to helping children and young adults with special needs to become more fully integrated into the broader community. The program allows children and young adults with special needs to enjoy the company of teenage and young adult volunteers in a full range of social activities. My older son was born 10 weeks premature and has had some struggles because of it. In first grade, we were connected with a new organization, The Friendship Circle, and two high school students became his friends that came to our house each week to play with him and help him socialize. He outgrew his need for this, but the organization always held a special place in my heart. When he was in seventh grade, it was his turn to start volunteering. Maybe because he knows how it feels to struggle, he has made The Friendship Circle a priority in his life. The organization has grown since the early days, and he now goes to Bowling League, Cooking Club, and many other activities to volunteer with his friends. He gets to be social with kids he has known since preschool as well as the friends he has made at Friendship Circle. He has come out of his shell with his delays to be on event committees and leadership committees that promote Friendship Circle to the community at large. The best part is that every activity is free for the friends with special needs as well as the teen volunteers. Seeing the way Friendship Circle has so positively affected our son, and the community at large, has given me the inspiration to donate to The Friendship Circle, volunteer my time, and encourage my younger son to volunteer.

Review from #MyGivingStory

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have seen children grow through their time at the Friendship Circle. I have watched their confidence build and relationships form through the amazing experiences they have there. It is a safe environment where the only thing the kids and young adults have to think about is having fun. It is a place where they know they will be accepted and welcomed with open arms and a smile.

nay

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I am an adult volunteer with this wonderful organization helping to integrate kids and special adults of all abilities. They make it a rewarding experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We absolutely love The FCPGH!!!
The Friendship Circle is so unique in how every participant is just a part of the circle. No one is more important than anyone else, we're all just one big happy family!