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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Friendship Circle SD Inc

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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

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

Friendship Circle is a great organization, it is always hosting fun activities for special need kids. All people there are so friebdly and willing to help.

Ellen25

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son is developmentally delayed and was becoming very isolated. He began participating with Friendship Circle ans is doing activities every month. Great Job!

MichelleSD

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program offers wonderful socialization opportunities for my two teens with special needs. Matched with a "typical" volunteer, they participate in fun activities in the community several times a year. In addition, one volunteer raised funds for 3 iPads, and our family was lucky enough to be selected to receive one. It's made a huge difference for my kids!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

My two children with (different) developmental disabilities LOVE Friendship Circle events. What a marvelous, well-run and caring program this is! I appreciate the opportunity for my children to engage in fun, appropriate activities with typically developing peers; the parent support and education component; and the welcome break from parenting responsibilities. What a joy to hand my children over to eager teen volunteers without any doubt they will have fun and be well cared for!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My Son and his friend went to an event a few months ago and are still talking about how much fun it was and even how much they learned. The only reason they haven't been back was conflict of the time when they could not get to the event.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son is a 6 year old boy with autism. Over the past year, we have had the great fortune to benefit from this organization. We have been able to participate in several enriching activities, such as horseback riding, that we would not otherwise have had the opportunity to do. In addition, they provide a warm, understanding environment where Paul can just be Paul without having to feel self-conscious. He has also been paired with a buddy, who is an amazing 9th grade girl who spends time with him 3 to 4 times a month working on social skills. We are all so grateful for this experience! it has made all of our lives happier and better.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Friendship Circle is one of a kind organization that help families with children with disabilities enjoy being together; help families enjoy outings, holidays, and support.

Lorri B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son has always had trouble maintaining friendships. At 8 years old, he spends most days playing adventure games by himself or with us, but not with any peers. His typical peers don't understand him and are afraid of his behaviors. They just don't want to be his friend. Lucky for us, we found The Friendship Circle of San Diego. He so looks forward to weekend outings where he is paired with a trained teen volunteer to be his friend for the day. He asks me every week - "Is this a Friendship Circle weekend?" The smile on his face at these events is priceless. Recently, the Friendship Circle invited families to join them at a baseball game with the Padres. Our son cannot sit still for a ballgame, but the volunteer followed him around the whole day and got him involved with swinging a bat at an onsite kids' diamond. He was up to bat twice and scored! He was so excited! We would have never had the opportunity or the energy to take him ourselves to a game and he will never forget the experience. With events every month, sometimes twice a month, there is plenty of opportunity for him to be out in the community with friends. We would love to have Friends at Home visits once the program expands into our area. As we live in the rural outskirts of town we are on a waiting list, but having heard from others, this program will be a wonderful opportunity for him to have friends come to the house and visit him. He will be so excited and happy when this happens.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son is on the autism spectrum, and although he is desperate to have friends and have fun, he has not been successful in making friends. For the past three years he has benefited so much from the volunteer teens who come to our home twice a week and play with him. He has grown so much socially, and his self-esteem has improved as he feels liked, valuable, and that he matters. These wonderful volunteer boys have completely changed my son's life. They are incredible. Thank-you Friendship Circle for the important work you do in improving the quality of life for so many children with disabilities.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a parent of a young man with disabilities and I was absolutely delighted to find Friendship Circle. I had not previously found any place at all where my son could be offered amazing experiences with non-disabled peers in a positive, safe, and supportive environment and where I have been offered beautiful friendships and parent support with the most caring and understanding people.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can not tell you how wonderful Friendship Circle of San Diego has been to my Grand-daughter. I have custody of her and not only have they helped her, they have helped me in untold ways. The amount of support that has been offered is AMAZING! Every activity is well run and tons of fun to boot.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Friendship Circle in SD has strong leadership and offers a wealth of program opportunities for socialization and recreational fun. From horseback riding, sailing, bowling, miniature golf, crafts and games, holiday parties, the zoo and animal encounters to a magic show. We have found the dedicated volunteers to be sincere, warm, friendly, creative, and prepared. They have helped and encouraged our 24 year old daughter to join in and get involved with every event she has attended while being sensitive to her personal level of comfort. The Friendship Circle has helped her to develop better confidence and self-esteem in a variety of social situations while giving joy and a sense of belonging. For the past 2 years Annie, a volunteer, has visited our home for a weekly game of scrabble with our daughter. They have developed a warm and caring friendship filled with trust and conversation. The quality of our daughter's life is very much enhanced because of Annie and The Friendship Circle.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Friendship Circle SD fills a huge void in the community, linking children with delays with a typical peer. The people I have encountered running the program have been some of the most caring and generous people you will ever meet. T cannot say enough about this organization and the great work they do each and every day on behalf of our children. My son loves the sports club they have and looks so forward to their monthly meetings. Elisheva Green and Rabbi Mendy and all of the other volunteers do an amazing job and we as parents of special needs children are so grateful to have Friendship Circle here in S.D.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Friendship Circle in San Diego is a great organization - that has a simple, extremely important mission - providing services to those with special needs. All the people involved with the FC from the director on down - to the volunteers are wonderful, caring individuals. We started working with them a few months ago, and it has been wonderful.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization makes my son feel normal, accepted, appreciated and loved. When they play baseball and my son does not understand all the rules or cannot always hit the ball great, they say, that's 3 1/2 outs, you're ok, keep trying. They have wonderful volunteers who cheerfully take over, giving parents time to rest, socialize and learn new skills when dealing with children with disabilities. Everyone there is very nurturing and you feel like you can talk about the stress in your life without people lifting brows and not wanting to hear all your sad stories. They welcome your feelings, offer suggestions, praise and warm smiles.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Friendship Circle has been such an amazing part of my son's life for the past 4 years. He has autism and friends are hard to come by for him. When he attends the Friendship Circle events, his face lights up. He feels apart of a group and feels so welcome. He also enjoys when friends come to our home to play with him. He talks about it all week and plans the toys he will share with them.