Friendship Circle

Chabad’s Friendship Circle matches teen volunteers with children who have special needs, and their time together benefits everyone involved. Children of all faiths who must cope with autism or other disabilities look forward to frequent visits from kind, caring peers -- and the volunteers feel the joy of befriending someone less fortunate.

The Friendship Circle program began in 1994 and there are now 82 chapters across America -- including a dozen in California. Nationwide, more than 11,000 teen volunteers are participating, and plans are in the works to expand the program further.

The Friendship Circle is committed to serving all members of the community regardless of religious affiliation. In addition to helping those in need, the Circle empowers and enriches its network of volunteers, the majority of whom are teenagers, by enabling them to reap the vast rewards of giving of themselves.

The Friendship Circle consists of five parts -- volunteers, children, parents, staff, and supporters. The true beauty of the Circle is how all of the elements link together to form a seamless community of friendship. Just as a circle has neither end nor beginning, the Friendship Circle community offers promise, hope and love that have no bounds. Who can say who benefits most from the program -- the child with special needs who learns how to ride a bicycle, or her parents who get a much needed break, or the volunteer whose spirit soars to new heights?

• Friendship Circle reaches over 5,000 children with special needs annually.

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