Changing the World One Friend at a Time


Published: Thursday, March 22, 2007 8:08 PM EDT





Friendship Circle teens on a limousine scavenger hunt at the international leadership convention.

I’ve been involved with many volunteer and community service projects, through school and synagogue, benefiting a family, school, or homeless shelter.

None of them ever had the impact of my involvement with The Friendship Circle, a group that offers friendship to children with special needs.

If I sound like the group’s ad agency, well, I am. At the first ever International Friendship Circle Leadership Convention in Detroit, I was elected international vice president for 2007.

You could say that the entire Cleveland chapter is the biggest ad agency because Jessi Weberman of Beachwood was elected International Coordinator.

For our first order of business, members of 65 chapters of The Friendship Circle from all over the world, including Australia, South Africa, Israel, and Europe will design a T-shirt to spread the word about children with special needs.


I was extremely excited to attend the conference yet, I was humbled as I heard stories of children who had said their very first words here, at the international headquarters for The Friendship Circle.

Parents of special needs children spoke about how much their teen friend had done for their children. It was really cool to realize that I was a part of something so big. I met other girls who are as enthusiastic about The Friendship Circle as I am. We swapped ideas about recruiting new members, spreading the word, and activities to do with our special friends.

When we weren’t roller blading, or on a scavenger hunt around Detroit in a stretch limousine, we just talked for hours ... about school, friends and TV. Not one person was judgmental, and nobody was ever criticized for his or her appearance or level of religious observance.

What made this conference different from all of the other youth group conventions I’ve attended was that everybody kept telling me that I was changing the world right now, today. I had never heard a message remotely similar to this one from any adult (ever), and it was the most incredible feeling to know that I had such an impact, not just on one life, but on thousands.

Melissa Rotblatt, daughter of Sharon and Marvin Rotblatt, is a sophmore at Solon High School and a member of Solon Chabad. To join The Friendship Circle, contact Estie Marozov, esti@friendscleve or 216-381-4854.