June 28, 2021
What we've learned from this year.


The Covid-19 pandemic changed life as we knew it - and it may have changed us individually as well, from our morning routines to our life goals and priorities.  Is there a silver lining or lessons learned? While everyone's situation is different (and some people have experienced tremendous difficulties), many have seen that it's possible to be resilient in a crisis.  Families who were part of a community during the pandemic realized the importance of human connection, and those who didn't have that kind of support realized they needed it. 

Friendship Circle programming has slowly, cautiously eased back to familiar activities.  In December we held our first indoor program.  Our 3 day Winter Camp had 8 campers in attendance.  Campers and volunteers were masked, tables were wiped, disinfected, and there were many trips to the sink to wash our hands.  Many families were very happy to have been offered this opportunity for their children to socialize amongst their peers.  Something that was long over due! We received this positive comment from a campers family: "We are so grateful to all of you for giving "D" such a wonderful week.  We were worried that he'd regress because he'd be missing so much school, but he's been doing well because he was so happy and engaged by you during the Winter Camp.  Thank you!"

In February we continued with our Zoom programs for the adults with a Self-Care night.  These Zoom programs were a welcome way for the adults to socialize safely from the comfort of their own home.  In addition, we were also able to hold an in person Presidents Day Mini-Camp for 8 campers.  We closed the month of February with a Zoom Art with Claire program.  What a great program for the kids to get creative and show their art skills.  Many parents were seen joining in with their chidlren.  

Passover fell in March this year and we hosted a wonderful glass etching program for the adults.  Participants were given a bag of supplies to complete beautiful glasses to be used on their Seder table or anytime they want a special glass for their favorite beverage.  

We couldn't forget our fabulous Friendship Circle mothers.  Nothing gives us more joy than to deliver over 30 packages to our beautiful, hardworking, deserving mothers for Mother's Day.  This year the appropriate theme was to "Plant Seeds of Change".  Packages included a clay pot, gloves, garden tools, and of course the seeds.  Weather started warming up towards the end of the month for us to hold an in person Art with Claire program outside at The Chabad Center.  We had a beautiful morning decorating trinket boxes.  

Our highly rated Dance and Drama programs were held weekly at The Chabad Center with Carousel of Progress Academy, aka COPA.  Our  April/May session had participants wearing masks while our June session participants were able to perform without their masks. It brought everyone joy to see their smiling faces again!  (All students and volunteers, in addition to the staff have been vaccinated.) We are pleased to inform you that Friendship Circle and COPA will be offering Drama/Acting classes for adults.  We are in the discussion phase at this point but we will be announcing classes shortly!  This is a great way to build confidence and a sense of self-awareness and drama classes have proven to relieve stress. You'll learn to improvise, adapt, overcome, in addition to learn how to work in a team. You'll learn how to be confident and become creative on the spot.  

Our biggest and most deserving program of the year is our Evening of Appreciation.  This event always proves to be heart warming but after the year Friendship Circle experienced, this evening was at another level.  The event was held outside at The Chabad Center under a tent.  The weather was not exactly our friend but you would not know from looking at all the smiles from those in attendance.  A little rain never hurt anyone and it brought over 100 attendees just a little closer under the dry tent.  Heart felt speeches were made by a Friends at Home recipient, Chaya Murrell and a FC volunteer dad, Matt Bolson.  Special awards given out during the night were as follows:

Above and Beyond Award  Ben Dayan and Rahav Dayan

New Kids On The Block Award Noah Golden, Rina Lifshitz, Temima Stein, Devorah Tischler, Sara Binah Tischler, Skyler Weaver

Special Award of the Evening Lexi Bonczek, Maddy Chessin, Sophia Flower, Emily Nolan, Maddie Nolan 

Induction of Additional Presidents Becky Jenkins and Julie Jenkins

This was our 16th annual Evening of Appreciation but our most deserving evening for almost 70 volunteers that touched the lives of our families in one way or another during a very trying year.  

June brings us to the month of graduations, moving up ceremonies, and goodbyes from our volunteers to their Friends at Home families.  If your volunteer has graduated and will be moving on to the next chapter in their life, please reach out to me if you would like to continue to receive visits from new volunteers.  

Fathers Day gifts were delivered to complete your at home celebration.  As always we know how hard you work at being the best possible father.  We hope we made you smile on your special day. 

Our Passaic families enjoyed a recent morning of Art with Claire.  We had a great turn out with many familiar faces and new ones too!   We are looking forward to hosting more events for you at the new Passaic location.

Birthday Club is another way for Friendship Circle to keep our families engaged, remembered, and happy.  We've added a group I like to call The Sunshine  Club, because what's better than a little sunshine on your birthday?  We have a terrific group of volunteers preparing the birthday boxes for delivery.  Boxes typically are delivered by your family's Friends at Home volunteer. If you do not participate in Friends at Home we have The Sunshine Club. They have graciously taken on the responsibility of delivering the birthday boxes, a homemade card, a balloon, and of course a little sunshine.  Providing so much sunshine is easy when we are blessed with volunteers so willing to give 100%.  

Summer Camp is planned for the week of August 23rd - August 27th.  Registration has begun and spots are limited.  RSVP today if you want to join us.  

Continue to check your email and FB often.  We are always adding new and exciting programs.   

Chani and I remain committed to helping you! Friendship Circle will continue to think of ways to keep us all connected.   Please feel free to reach out to either of us with any questions or concerns you may be having.  We are always here for you. 

May each of you enjoy your summer with friends and family and continue to remain safe. With G‑d on our side offering support through any ordeal, we are sure to always be victorious. 


Jackie Gross

Friendship Circle Coordinator


COPA Performance

Glass Etching 

Art with Claire in Passaic

16th Annual Evening of Appreciation 


Upcoming Events To Put On Your Calendar