I never would have thought that spending one hour per week with someone could have such an impact on each of us individually. Dan and I created a special friendship with Gary, and it has strengthened over the course of this year. I noticed the effect that it has had on me when I found myself searching for Gary in the cafeteria one day just to say hello to brighten up my day; it worked. Additionally, whenever Dan or I are unable to spend our time with Gary, the other one has noted that each time, he has set up a bingo board and filled it out as if we were all there. I think that this shows the impact that Friendship Circle has on the volunteers and our friends. 
---Ben Alpert, Friendship Circle Volunteer 


...999 interlocking puzzle pieces create an image, with only one more piece needed to complete the picture. Once that last piece is put into place, there remains a feeling of joy and relief. With my friend Ari, a child with high functioning autism, finding the final piece was a struggle. We had been paired together for several months in The Friendship Circle's activities, yet they never seemed to spark his interest. Undeterred, I searched for the missing piece, seemingly lost forever. Finally the search ended in the form of a baby goat. The mobile petting zoo brought forth a new Ari. Sitting for well over forty-five minutes Ari smiled, shared, and stroked the baby goat. Soon after, with happiness I had never witnessed, Ari proceeded to wrap a nine-foot long snake around his neck, as I cheered five feet away. 
---Ben Shoham, Friendship Circle Volunteer


...we asked Jack if he was looking forward to having you come for a visit after Passover and school vacation had kept you and him apart for several straight weeks. He said, “yes, I miss them.” That might seem like an innocent enough comment for a typical 15-year-old, but for us, and for Jack, it was a huge breakthrough… the concept of “missing” someone was not something he had ever offered up on his own, and it showed a real consciousness of a relationship that had developed.
--  -Bruce Putterman, Friendship Circle Dad



I have found that the hour I spend on Sunday evening with Gary is one of the only times in the week that I'm able to completely forget about stress and school and truly have a good time, whether on a walk, doing a puzzle, or playing Disney Bingo. To be completely honest, the first couple of visits didn't feel as natural or comfortable as Danielle or I would have hoped, but since then every week it has been so amazing to see the change in Gary's interactions with us. The three of us have formed a really great bond that I know will only continue to get stronger week by week. 
-  --Friendship Circle Member



This past year has been a journey of growth and discovery for Gabe, Samuel and their friends, Dee, Gavi, Deena and Natana. You have shared in their high and low points, always understanding and accepting, taking it one day at a time. You have allowed them to joyfully be themselves – unfiltered –without demands. As a parent of two special needs children one learns to notice the little things. To those who look but do not see.. it may not mean much. But as Samuel and Gabe’s mother I see the change their friends have imparted on them… Samuel’s little smirk when Dee and Gavi come through the door… Samuel demanding that their names go on his monthly calendar on the days they are to come over.. when asked who are your friends the response is always Dee and “Gabi”. I see Gabe laughing gleefully as the girls try to keep up with him as he maneuvers through a building or on a walk. Never doubt what you mean to our children . They, Larry and I are proud to call you friend. 
-  --Mrs. Beth Slozberg-Widem, Friendship Circle Mom



If I told you the highlight of my school week was the weekend, or watching Gossip Girl on Monday nights, I would be lying. The highlight of my week is hands down the hour I spend hanging out with Erica. Going to Erica's house baking brownies, playing webkins, hide and go seek or creating an imaginary pirate ship have been some of the most influential and fun moments of my life. I cannot wait to spend another year filled with these experiences. 
-  --Jodie Salzberg, Friendship Circle Volunteer



Alex and Josh are great with Zachary! They call him by name, which is a good habit for him, and they ask him things. They compliment him, laugh at his jokes, and interact with him. They also tell him if he is getting carried away with something. In Zachary’s case, he needs role-models to show him how to interact with friends, and Alex and Josh are fabulous! Zachary looks forward to playing with them. 
-  --Jessica Borden, Friendship Circle Mom 



When I find myself in a bad mood I can always look back on the good memories I have had with Jamie and Paul. Without Friendship Circle my life at this point would be different and maybe missing something in it. Friendship Circle has continued to be a great thing for me, Paul and Jamie and I plan on continuing it throughout my high school career. 
-  --Jeremy Fishman, Friendship Circle Volunteer