“BEAUTIFUL, JUST BEAUTIFUL.” That’s what the Friendship Circle team said each time they read a new adult volunteer’s registration form describing why that individual chose to volunteer at Friendship Circle. What began months earlier as an idea to get a few volunteers together to help Friendship Circle with some business development projects, became the successful launch of the Friendship Circle’s Adult Volunteer program. Since the inception of FC in 2001, over 2,000 teens have volunteered to become friends with children with special needs and have graduated from FC as confident, caring community leaders.
The launch of the Friendship Circle’s Adult Volunteer program happened on November 12, 2018 as part of the #GivingTuesday campaign. GivingTuesday is a global movement that promotes the ‘giving of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community. It’s a simple idea. Whether you come together with your family, your community, your company or your organization, find a way to give back and then share your idea.’
And boy oh boy, did the community come together! The FC team was blown away when 15 women showed up to the first of two scheduled kickoff parties. I was pleasantly surprised, not only with the turnout, but by the way the women enthusiastically started filling out the registration forms that were stacked on the table. At that moment, I realized how successful this could be. Clearly there were other people like me who seriously wanted to get involved and help. I had originally suggested the idea of doing a kickoff to get more volunteers involved to assist with my business development initiatives, but by the time the FC team thought through this idea, the list of volunteer opportunities had expanded to five major areas: hands-on assistance with participants, fundraising, marketing and business development, programming, and community outreach. These five areas are what make up a successful 501(C)(3) NON-PROFIT.
Invite to the Adult Volunteer Kick Off Party.
Roberta Langman existing volunteer and Elizabeth Abramov new volunteer to Friendship Circle.
The ladies who attended meant business, and they were serious about volunteering! Even those who came because they were invited to learn about Friendship Circle and its mission—to inspire our community to be inclusive and caring to individuals with special needs and their parents—didn’t leave without filling out a registration form.
A few moments into introductions, when attendees told us how they knew about Friendship Circle, it was obvious what an incredible reputation the organization had established for itself since its launch. “A wonderful organization” was echoed time and time again by women proudly sharing how they found out about it. FC’s reach was far and wide—people knew of it because their teens volunteered, they’d heard about it from a friend, or were aware simply from living in the wonderful community of Chabad of Monmouth County.
Excerpt from a volunteer application.
The next day, still in disbelief over the success of Day 1, we set up the table for the four women who’d RSVP’d to the second event. And again we ended up with a full house–thirteen women total! Today, 3 days later and 33 registrants richer, the prospect is bright. “We are more excited than ever about all the wonderful friendships and work that will be shared between FC and Adult Volunteers.” said Chana’le Wolosow, Director of FC.
FC of Central Jersey has a huge mission ahead of it: to build the Friendship Village, a state-of-the-art community center that will be used to house all the programming for FC’s participants with special needs. Having hands-on support from adult volunteers in the community is a must moving forward. “Whether you can volunteer an hour a week, a month, or a year, we are in need of your individual talents and gifts. Get involved with Friendship Circle and make a difference!” Chana’le Wolosow posted on Facebook, inviting her friends and followers to the kickoff parties.
The Adult Volunteer Registration form starts with the following:
AT FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE WE BELIEVE THAT EACH INDIVIDUAL IS BLESSED WITH G-D GIVEN TALENTS, SKILLS AND RESOURCES TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE GREATER GOOD OF THE COMMUNITY, WHILE FEELING GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES.
That’s the true idea behind the FC Adult Volunteer Community. “Pay It Forward,” as Roberta Langman, one of the longtime friends to FC, wrote on her UNselfie.
As I remember the events leading up to the birth of the adult volunteer community, what comes to mind is this – share your skills, talents, and blessings with the world. Spread goodwill in our community and watch it ripple like the butterfly effect. Share your LIGHT and illuminate the darkness. LIGHT UP THE WORLD!
“PAY IT FORWARD” seems like the perfect name for the section of our newsletter focused on adult volunteers, and that’s where FC will report on all the work and successes that have already started unfolding through their involvement. The previous section of the newsletter is called “GIVING BACK” — that’s where we’ll introduce you to the generous supporters who are giving back to help fund Friendship Circle.
In this section, we’ll celebrate the successes accomplished with our adult volunteers. We’ll share stories of how their good deeds affected FC and their family and friends for the better, similar to the way I shared this story.
In order to ensure volunteer engagement and satisfaction, the FC team immediately called a meeting to review all the volunteer applications in order to assess their skills and interests—and we’ve already began scheduling people to volunteer as early as this Sunday, November 18, 2018! There’s also a private fundraising meeting scheduled by a brand new volunteer to Friendship Circle, Tatyana Smertenko, whose passion in life is to give back to those in need through her work volunteering and organizing fundraisers. The FC staff will continue planning and coordinating with volunteers to ensure proper coverage of all initiatives throughout the year.
To nurture friendships and build a sense of a camaraderie, multiple adult volunteer appreciation events are being planned to show our gratitude to the volunteers. We’re also creating volunteer perks, the first of which is complimentary admission to the lecture & book signing with Charlie Harary, esteemed author and speaker. Charlie Harary is coming to speak on January 15th for the first time in the Monmouth community.
Other events will include team-building activities for the mind, body & soul, hikes and beach yoga, arts & crafts, challah baking, and bowling. Our mission is to make sure our do-gooders care for themselves as well as they care for others.
Follow #fcnjadultvolunteers and #fcnjpayitforward on facebook and instagram to see all the beautiful acts of kindness being done by our amazing volunteers and all the organizational growth being achieved with the help of their efforts. Stayed tuned for the next issue, and check back with this section for first quarter accomplishments and progress.
Renata with her friends. From left to right: Julia Fiskin, recently through meeting Renata based on their mutual love of volunteering and giving back. Since getting involved in July, Julia has already written several grants for Friendship Circle, and is on her third project of spearheading this Newsletter. Hannah Kazak, whose daughter Monica is gracing the FC online banner, Angela Natenzon, who has been involved with Friendship Circle since her son Myles volunteered in 2014, her daughter Brielle’s bat mitzvah project in 2015 and her youngest daughter, Hailey, currently a teen volunteer, and Inna Smolyar, new to Monmouth county since moving here in 2016 but actively involved in community life.
Caryn Schweitzer, involved with FC since its launch in 2001, is one of the first adult volunteers, and her friend, Lisa Silberman, a volunteer for the past 5 years. Read their volunteer bios.
Gayle Alter, her daughter used to be a teen volunteer, now that she’s in college, Gayle would like to continue helping out.