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Good Friend Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Autism Research, Health

Mission: To create autism awareness, teach acceptance of differences, and foster empathy for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Results: We have provided services directly to over 55,000 people, and reach thousands more annually with our original, award-winning films for elementary ("We ALL Fit", 2014) and middle school ("Choosing to Be a Good Friend", 2019) students.

Target demographics: typically-developing peers in schools, workplaces, and other community organizations better understand, appreciate, and include those on the autism spectrum

Direct beneficiaries per year: approximately 2,200 people

Geographic areas served: nationwide

Programs: staff in-services for EC/pre-K programs, summer camps, sports/rec programs, elementary & middle schools; awareness & sensitivity workshops for medical & dental staff and related service providers; student training for ages 4-15 through Peer Sensitivity Workshops (K-5th grade), Individual Classroom Presentations (6th-8th grade), and general assemblies or Citizenship Trainings; Sibshops, for children aged 8-17 who have a sibling with a brain-based disability; and learning and development programs for businesses interested in recruiting and retaining neurodivergent talent.

Community Stories

25 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 WILCAutismWaukesha

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Good Friend, Inc at several levels regarding the good work they do regarding Autism Awareness in Schools, an autism Sib Support Group having a Recreational Therapy day at WI Independent Learning College- an Autism Specific educational training post secondary program in Waukesha, WI. We also placed one of our autistics young adults for a DVR Customized/Supported Employment Temporary paid work experience through WILC, and he was later hired for part time computer office work. Great organization now branching out to provide training and community conversations about the Autism / Disabled Employment negative black hole in WI and the nation.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Good Friend, Inc. Is one of the most unfortunate "best kept secrets". They do so much good and raise so much awareness for mentally diverse individuals. From their work in schools and the new chapter working with employers. I am so proud to know Denise Schamens and her team!!!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I met this amazing group at an event. And now support by volunteering my talents to help spread their vision through my lens.

I love nonprofits that help our youth. From someone that grew up with some challenges (dyslexia), I know how important it is to get that extra support to learn new tools for life. If I didn’t get those things I wouldn’t be where I am at today.

I worked in the schools for 5 years. And daycare for 6 before that. I have friends and my daughter has a friend with autism.

Autistic children and adults have difficulty showing feelings and emotions. Good Friend Inc gives that much needed support to children as well as staff and parents and friends. To provide tools and understandings, to help build and teach those individuals and the people around them so that they can flourish in society.

Great organization that all schools need! Glad to have met and worked along side of such a great team.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Minuteman Press Brookfield loves to partner with Good Friend Inc. They are helping educate people of all ages in regard to autism awareness, understanding individuals with autism and being supportive. They have wonderful events that also support community! Some of the events are bowling, meat sales and a winter walk.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

In the last 3 years I have been at events sponsored and held by Good Friend Inc. I have always admired the work of Chelsea and Denise, but the last 6 months have really moved me. Good Friend Inc. works with employers to educate their workforce that employees with autism are as much of an asset to their workforce/company as employees without autism. Our firm will be hiring first quarter of 2022 and we intend to work with Good Friend Inc. on hiring someone on the spectrum.

1 Sarah R.15

Board Member

Rating: 5

As someone on the autism spectrum I'm all too familiar with the struggles of being misunderstood by peers, teachers, and at work, so when I found out about Good Friend Inc's mission I knew it was something I had to get involved with. I've been on their board for over 3 years now and it's been a wonderful experience! Everyone involved is wonderful and so devoted to making a difference. It always warms my heart to hear how many lives have been changed for the better through Good Friend Inc's programs. I don't know of any other organization providing these incredibly important services that change lives through programs that teach autism acceptance, awareness, and empathy. I'm so grateful for everything Good Friend does!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As grandparents for a child with autism, my wife and I learned about Good Friend 10 years ago through a mutual friend and have found their videos very helpful in explaining autism for us and all our grandchildren. Since 2019 I have volunteered with GFI to continue creating autism awareness and teaching acceptance focused on education through middle school, and new programs to include transition to employment.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Upon arriving to Wisconsin with my then 4th grader I got involved in the school PTO and through them and the school principal I got connected introduced to two amazing moms on a mission to promote autism, acceptance and empathy. Good Friend presentations have taught me so much and allowed to open conversations with my son’s teachers each year. I am a better advocate for my child with the support of co-founders Chelsea and Denise.

1 Rachel R.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Awesome They are helping so many families ! We love sibshops

2 Christina N.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This excellent program is improving the lives of children - autistic and neurotypical alike - through engaging presentations that educate and empower. Helping kids and teens to learn how simple and rewarding it is to share classrooms, playgrounds and lives with autistic friends makes our schools and communities stronger and healthier.

2 Rosanda Neira A.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a special education teacher, I am always looking for ways to empower ALL students and celebrate diversity in our community. I was introduced to Good Friend Inc. during its first year, and have been a strong supporter ever since. Their ability to promote a culture of inclusion through awareness, acceptance, and empathy is incomparable! Their workshops inspire students (and adults) to reach out and be a good friend. Their impact on the communities they serve is far reaching. I am a forever Good Friend fan and will continue to spread their message, we ALL fit!

1 Kristen G.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a phenomenal non-profit organization. Every year they come to my daughter's school district & they do school assemblies/presentations/specific grade level workshops at the schools. They help educate the neuro-typical students/ regular ed teachers on Autism and how to form friendships/relationships with their peers/students with Autism. They have resources for special need families, do fun workshops for siblings of those with Autism, give advice & go above & beyond with their mission. I truly believe my child & many others has had a better school experience because of the work they do. Thank you Good Friend Inc!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization is fantastic! The way that the presenters reach each student is just amazing to see.

1 Kathleen B.4

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is and amazing group. I have always gotten wonderful information from them!

2 Jessica S.16

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Good Friend Inc. has helped so many of my students make friends by teaching their peers about awareness, acceptance and empathy. I am always so excited when they come to my school! Their staff inservices are great too!

2 Sarah F.3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Incredibly creative and motivated team. They bring so much value and education!

2 Dani Jo R.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Professional and down to earth.
These Autism Moms know how to explain autism in such an engaging way!
The inservice is great! All schools should have a Good Friend Inc. presentation!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The yearly Good Friend presentations provide our staff and students with a common language to discover the similarities and struggles we all share. The Good Friend presentation is engaging, entertaining, and thought provoking. Students and staff gain a new perspective for individuals impacted by disabilities. I would recommend that every school provides this presentation to ensure inclusionary practices and a voice for all students.

1 Joe B.11

Client Served

Rating: 5

Good Friend Inc. changed our lives as well as the culture in our school system. My son has Autism and when he was young he was non verbal. We had daily therapy where he would complete programs and follow directions to help him fit in and work with his peers. Little did we know that kids would use that to bully him by telling him to do things like eat ketchup or go kiss a girl. He was just following directions like he was supposed to. After dealing with the kids and school we decided we needed to change the culture in the school to help him succeed going forward. That’s where Good Friend comes in. With a video on how to be a good friend we petitioned the school and everyone in the school watched it class by class. We watched his peers transition to supportive friends and have never looked back The video is mandatory in all classes now and he was picked as the Homecoming Prince Good Friend Inc is about inclusion and the go above and beyond to change cultures They Rock!!

1 Mandi 'Mitchell' M.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have witnessed my son's struggles with social anxiety and the behaviors that anxiety triggers in him. Without having Good Friend, Inc. visit his elementary school to educate the staff & students about Autism; giving them the understanding needed to empathize and accept. After their visit, my son's peers reached out to him to initiate play and looked past the Autism; fostering friendships that have carried through their middle school years now. Thank you, Good Friend, Inc.! Keep doing the good that you do!

1 Sarah A.5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Good Friend Inc provides excellent workshops, assemblies, and specialized presentations to local groups and schools to show typically developing peers how to be a "good friend" to those with autism spectrum disorder. Their mission to create autism awareness, acceptance, and empathy has been shared with over 50,000+ . I have volunteered with this organization for almost a decade and continue to help this organization in any way that I can and they have made me passionate about helping them reach more individuals.

2 Denise S.6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Good Friend, Inc is always trying to achieve best! In a changing world we need to be sure we are teaching the value of a true friendship! This is GFI's mission! To help people understand a population that gets overlooked and ignored. Shining light on the value of a friendship with someone living with autism! The best at what they do!

2 Marianne P.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Good Friend Inc came to my school and did a presentation on empathy, acceptance and understanding for individuals with autism. Chelsea and Denise had such a great message we all can learn from and they connected with the students. After the presentation students approached them to share their personal stories about acceptance and understanding. It was such a great experience for our school.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Good Friend provides high quality peer sensitivity workshops as well as stellar media resources that resonate with kids. They are truly making a difference by creating a genuine #senseofbelonging as well as life long differences in kids as well as adults to value differences through awareness, acceptance and empathy.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Good Friend Inc. is awesome! Knowing how to interact with people who are wired differently than you are used to can be intimidating for everyone. My son was taught how to be a Good Friend to all of his buddies. What a gift! These ladies are the best!