October 2022

Friend: Edie Chaiten
Parents: Cindy and Louis Chaiten
School and Grade: Hawken, 11th 
Extracurricular Activities: I tutor Hebrew at Bnei Jeshurun as well as general homework tutoring for underprivileged children, I serve on the board for Glamour Gals where we build bonds with seniors, as well as being on the teen board for Hope for Henry.

Edie's Essay:

"I started getting involved in Friendship Circle at the beginning of this past summer when my cousin Aaron’s mother recommended I spend time with Friendship Circle as part of my Integrate Service Learning (ISL) project I was doing with school. My cousin Aaron is a sweet 5 year old boy who was born with multiple disabilities and I spend time with him every Sunday. I feel like we have a very special bond and I particularly love watching him learn and grow at his own pace and do things in his own special way.

At Friendship Circle, I loved being able to create bonds with many different individuals throughout both summer camps I was a part of. It is a super unique opportunity to connect with so many different people!

Some of the activities I enjoyed most included going to the playground and the crafts we did throughout the day. Even if my buddy didn’t want to go to the playground, I simply enjoyed spending time and connecting with my friend.

I think that all the hours I spend at Friendship Circle helped me develop a widened perspective. I learned a lot about communicating with others and how speaking isn’t the only way to communicate and connect. I feel like I have confidence knowing how to connect to others.

My time at Friendship Circle expanded my knowledge and gave me experience in areas relating to connecting with people with disabilities. I want to work as a child psychologist when I get older and the time here made me want volunteer more with the community of people with disabilities."


May 2022

Friend: Molly O’Neill
Parents: Stacey and Daniel O’Neill
School and Grade: Hathaway Brown, 11th
Extracurricular Activities: Art (including painting, collaging, and making jewelry)

Molly’s Essay:

"I moved from Connecticut earlier this year. In January, I became involved with Friendship Circle. What I like most about Friendship Circle is that it’s a place where kids can be themselves and have a safe community where they can express themselves and have as much support as they need.

My favorite thing to do is drawing with my friend C at Sunday Circle. Every week we draw together. C’s favorite thing to draw is cats, and last weekend we worked on a piece together where I drew a bunch of cat faces and C drew a big cat among all the different faces that I had drawn. It turned out really well, and it was fun to collaborate!

My involvement with FC has definitely brought a lot of positivity and happiness to my life. It makes me feel really good when I’m at FC, because I feel good that I am helping someone. I understand how important it is to have someone I can go to and have a close bond with, and I believe everyone deserves a friend.

Since I’ve started volunteering at FC, I’ve gained an interest in learning more about working with people with disabilities. It is something that I would like to pursue in the future and learn more about in college. I think it has opened that door for me.

Friendship Circle brings me so much happiness and I love being a part of it!"


April 2022

This month, there are two Friends of the Month. Jake Goldman and Jude Holz spend their Sunday afternoons together with their special buddy and have created a meaningful friendship which has blossomed throughout the year.

(Left: Jude Holz; Right: Jake Goldman; Front: Liav Stark)


Friend: Jake Goldman
Parents: Jody and Steve Goldman
School and Grade: Beachwood High School, 10th grade
Extracurricular Activities: Soccer, Wrestling, Baseball, Stock Club

Jake’s Essay:

"I became involved at Friendship Circle this past fall when I started coming to Sunday Circle. It was then that I noticed people at FC seem genuinely happy to be here. My friends are friend-makers as well as the kids who come to make friends! Sometimes my friend arrives, and he seems sad but by the end of the session he always leaves feeling happy.

My buddy really loves playing in the gym. We get creative with whatever materials we find in the gym and use them to play games like basketball or baseball.

I can see that from coming to FC, I have been able to grow and become more responsible. Knowing I can be relied upon, and I can do things that I couldn’t do before. I feel like I have tools to watch other kids and help make them happy. I definitely have a greater understanding of people with disabilities.

The traits and skills I develop at FC, like patience, caring for and sharing my time with kids, are important, and I think they will remain with me and be useful to me throughout my entire life."

Friend: Jude Holz
Parents: Mark and Leslie Holz
School and Grade: Mastery School Hawken, 10th grade
Extracurricular Activities: Pitch for Baseball Team for Hawken, Coding Club, Gaming Club

Jude’s Essay:

"I joined Friendship Circle in the fall of 2021. I volunteered at Sunday Circle since that is what I saw my siblings doing. My siblings, Raya and Ethan, were very involved in FC, and I observed the different perspectives they brought home. I noticed how my siblings became more patient and their real-life application skills improved because of their time at FC.

What I like most about Friendship Circle is the ability to build a real connection with my friends. When I attend weekly, it is beautiful to see how my friend becomes more comfortable interacting with me and Jake and other friends. I really like seeing how he grows in his communication and interactions.

Some of our favorite activities are movement-based activities. We love going to the playground as well as finding ways to get creative with different sporting equipment we have in the gym. We take the materials available and produce ways to play. For example, we take a bowling pin and play baseball with it! Once we have played all the different movement activities our friend also likes to go into the multi-sensory room where there are cool lights and video-type games.

I find that these experiences at Friendship Circle are teaching me to be more flexible in my interactions with other people. Sometimes I have an expectation of what my friend will find fun and like doing but not always does my buddy react the same way. I learn to be flexible and attuned to what my friend is feeling and adapt to him.

Spending time with my buddy and understanding how he feels helps me develop patience and empathy. I believe the skills and traits I am gaining in this role will apply to many other fields and jobs and they will be extremely beneficial for me in my future."

 
 

March 2022

Friend: Dalya Berezovsky
Parent: Wendy Berezovsky
School and Grade: Beachwood High School, 10th grade

Extracurricular Activities: I am active on the board of Go B’Yachad, I love baking, art, dancing, and singing. I am the president of our family run non-profit called “Sweet Dreams for Kids” where we collect and donate new comfy pajamas for children with extended stays in the hospital all over the world.


Dalya’s Essay:

I’ve been involved in Friendship Circle for  little over two years. I became involved when I was in eighth grade, and I continued to participate throughout COVID over Zoom programming. Although the zoom programming was fun, it’s even better when we can hang out in person!

It’s really hard to pick what my favorite thing is, because I like everything so much. I love being around my friends, hanging out and helping make other people happy. I love doing [email protected] with my friend B. I don’t see what I do as volunteering – but rather I see it as going to spend time with my real friend. It is the highlight of my week.

I look forward to coming to Friendship Circle and it is my favorite time of my day and week. Knowing that I can help make someone else feel like they have a friend that really cares about them brings me joy.

My participation in Friendship Circle has sparked an interest and enjoyment in working with children and helping people feel that someone likes them and cares about them. When I get older, I would like to work with kids in the hospital, be a special ed teacher, or work in a nursing home.


February 2022

Friend: Asher Baskind
Parents: Samantha Baskind and Danny Geller
School and Grade: Shaker Heights High School, 9th Grade

Extracurricular Activities: Model UN and Track (distance)

Asher’s Essay:

I became involved in Friendship Circle before the COVID-19 shutdown. Growing up, my family was involved with Friendship Circle, and we participated in My Walk 4 Friends. I then became active as a peer model over sixth-grade summer break.

I enjoy making people happy. I particularly enjoy my buddies who I am matched with on Sundays. I feel I want to do the right thing and be active in the Jewish community.

I love going to the movement room with my special friends to build forts, run around, have pretend sword fights, play games, and build towers of blocks to knock them down with a toy motorcycle.

I think Friendship Circle has had a super positive effect on me. I really enjoy volunteering.

In the future, I think I would like to continue down this path and work with children with disabilities. After I graduate from high school, I hope to continue volunteering at Friendship Circle. If there is a Friendship Circle near my college, I hope to continue to volunteer with them as well.


January 2022

 

Friend: Andie Berlin
Parents: Greg and Marla Berlin
School and Grade: Orange, 10th Grade
Extracurricular Activities: Cheerleading and Lacrosse

Andie’s Essay:

"I became involved with Friendship Circle last year during the pandemic. This year, I have joined in-person programs. Although the virtual Zoom programs were very important and enjoyable, I think I make a greater impact at in-person programs because I feel a better sense of connection.

I enjoy many aspects of Friendship Circle. I attend Sunday Circle nearly every Sunday, and I join either Teen Scene or Friendship Social during the week. During the programs, I really enjoy Music Circle, because I can dance to the music with my friends. We also participate in fun sensory activities and crafts.

What keeps me coming back to the programs is the feeling I get after spending time with my special friends. I feel like a better person, knowing I've made a positive impact on others. 

My participation at Friendship Circle has helped me to be more understanding of challenges other people face. For example: the time when I saw a friend from Friendship Circle crying in the school hallway. Many other students were just walking by her, but because of my experience at Friendship Circle, I had the confidence to go over to her and help her. I really like Friendship Circle a lot!"