The Friendship Circle
Have you ever seen a child with special needs? Have you ever said Hi to them? Have you even smiled at someone who has appeared to you as “different”? Let’s be honest, probably not. And to tell you the truth, before I volunteered for Friendship Circle, I am not sure that I have either.
The Friendship Circle is a non-profit organization, originally created in Michigan to help and befriend children and teenagers with special needs. Now, there are Friendship Circle buildings not only all over the country, but also all over the world! Since The Friendship Circle was created in Michigan where I live, I believe that we have one of the most amazing facilities in the world. Upstairs there are about ten different rooms all there to help children with any disability. There are swings, and arts and crafts, sports, water fun, and much more.
Downstairs in the amazing Michigan facility is something which I believe might be one of the most breathe-taking things that I have ever seen. Friendship Circle created an entire village especially for children with special needs. Programs run there regularly where kids take out money from the Friendship Circle Bank and explore the entire village. There is a wonderful library, a pet store, a convenience store, a craft studio, and ice cream shop, a beauty parlor, a Dr’s office, a movie theater, bikes, and more. The village has real traffic lights hanging up and volunteer police men walking around to teach all of the children to cross the street and follow important safety laws. To me, all of this is amazing. This is preparing children with special needs to manage money, be safe, sit quietly in a movie, make an appointment, and much more. Our goal is to stick with these special children and help them get jobs when they are older so they could have some independence that they deserve.
I believe that volunteering for Friendship Circle has changed me. It has changed my perspective on life, and it has encouraged me to give back to my community. From the moment that I started volunteering I knew that this was the thing for me. I have never been to a place with such a non-judgmental attitude. A place where everyone goes to volunteer because they want to, not because they have to. I have never seen a building with more hugs, laughter, and smiles then the Friendship Circle.
As a volunteer for almost three years now I have learned to love every child for their strengths, putting aside their weaknesses. I have learned to appreciate everyone around me and letting them show what they have to offer. This is the most amazing thing for me and I could not thank Friendship Circle enough for teaching me these life lessons. Not only am I helping amazing children with special needs, they are truly helping me.