Only one week into the school year, 200 Crown Heights high school girls gathered for Friendship Circle Brooklyn’s Annual Volunteer Kickoff.
Girls from four local high schools, Bais Rivkah, Bnos Menachem, Bnos Chomesh and Beis Chaya Mushka joined together to volunteer for an important organization in the community. The Friendship Circle gives these high school girls an opportunity to befriend and visit children and young adults with special needs in the comforts of their own homes.
As the first-time volunteers arrived, they were entered into a raffle for a Chocolatte gift card! After munching on delicious muffins and milkshakes, the girls were split up into four groups. They rotated between four stimulating workshops, each one exploring a new topic about what it means to volunteer for the Friendship Circle.
Mrs Toby Lass, a therapist and longtime friend of Friendship Circle, led an informative workshop about labeling. In addition to wearing their own label, the girls in the group each had to treat their peers based on the label that girl was wearing. This workshop brought home the idea that no matter what someone may seem like on the outside, and no matter what “label” society may put on another, it is important to make sure that our actions toward others reflect the true Ahavas Yisroel that every individual deserves.
Mrs Nechama Dina Schmukler, a member of Friendship Circle’s parent body, shared her perspective on parenting a child with special needs. She brought to light the great impact that the volunteers have on their special friends and their families.
Chaya Sherman and Tehilla Leverton led a creative craft workshop. The girls were given a long plastic tube that they were able to bend into the shape of glasses. Chaya and Tehilla explained how in order to see the good in others; the girls must see the good in themselves.
Chaya Deitsch led an engaging debate on inclusion vs. self-containment. The girls enjoyed discussing the pros and cons for each side. It was an enlightening and educational conversation for all.
As the evening concluded, the new volunteers left with smiles on their faces, excited to start the year with their new friends! Then, as quickly as it had emptied, a wave of returning volunteers entered the room, bringing with them a fantastic energy! These girls were returning to volunteer at the Friendship Circle after a long summer break.
After some refreshments and another raffle, the girls were soon engrossed in an engaging improv communication war! Toby Lass led the girls from scenario to scenario, where the girls had to come up with unique solutions to challenges put in front of them.
As the evening came to a close, Mrs. Chani Majesky, director of Friendship Circle, addressed the volunteers on the importance of their role within their community.
Special thanks to Toby Lass and Nechama Dina Schmukler for their time. Thank you to Hinda Rapoport, volunteer coordinator, for arranging this event. Thank you to Mushki Tenenbaum and our school presidents Sara Kayla Schneerson, Malky Laine, Chaya Sherman, Chaya Deitsch, Tehilla Leverton, and Tova Sufrin for making this event possible.
For more information about the Friendship Circle, visit www.fcbrooklyn.com
Photos by: Jakob Rudziniak