2023-2024 Program Highlights

Categories: Friendship Circle

Unlike a typical weekly roundup, we have decided to bring you some big moments from the programming year in the spirit of Friends All Around on Sunday. The Friendship Circle’s 18th year of inclusive community building was like no other.

FC Talks with Pamela Schuller

On April 15th, 2024 the FC Alumni Council in collaboration with The Beacon, Repair the World, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Open Up, Self-Advocacy Voices, Chabad Young Professionals, The Branch, and The Second Floor at the JCC hosted Pamela Schuller, internationally-acclaimed comedian and disability and mental health advocate Pamela Schuller for a night of storytelling at the JCC. Hundreds of FC adults, teens, and families gathered to listed to Schuller describe her experience growing up with Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which was at times hilarious, and at others, heartbreaking. Schuller left everyone with actionable steps to make our communities more inclusive.
FC Talks April 2024

Bunny Bakes Opening

On November 7th, 2023, Bunny Bakes, our bakery and inclusive employment initiative, opened to the public. Since then, several members of our training program have graduated into cashier, greeter, and baker roles. The bakery has received coverage from several local news publications, including WPXI, NEXTpittsburgh, and the Jewish Chronicle. Bunny Bakes continues to integrate into the surrounding community, taking large catering orders from organizations like First Tee and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. As we continue to serve our community delicious baked goods and coffee, we hope to further spread our message of integrated workplaces to businesses in the surrounding area.

The Beacon Opening

The Beacon, our teen wellness space, opened its doors for programming in October 2023. Since then, “open hours” programs — after school periods where registered members can come to relax, connect, and participate in mindful activities — have expanded to three days a week, and membership continues to grow. Beacon teens have accomplished a lot in the months since then, including holding two Open Mic Nights and even traveling to Harrisburg to speak to PA representatives about mental health legislation. Teens will continue to take the lead in creating a safer, destigmatized environment for exploring mental health and wellness.

Clubs in Schools

Friendship Circle members at CAPA launched CAPA Friends this year, spreading the FC mission of inclusion to nearby high schools. CAPA Friends features a mentorship program between the high schoolers and middle schoolers, which allows them both to practice wellness techniques and connect with each other. The activities CAPA Friends completed this year include making and exchanging friendship bracelets, creating a collaborative mural, and writing goals on paper flower petals.

Walk4Friendship

For the first time, Walk4Friendship took to the streets this year, leading walkers from The Friendship Circle down Murray Avenue to Wightman Park. Making our walk even more visible to the public was an important step in bringing our message of inclusion to the greater community. After the monumental walk, participants heard #WhyIWalk statements from members, honored Lori Plung with the Fred Rock Founders Award, and enjoyed carnival games and food at Wightman Park. The kickoff even included an opening ceremony for Bunny Bakes, our bakery and coffee shop.

FC Lounge

Our FC Lounge welcomes groups of members of all ages to hang out casually outside of the hustle and bustle of typical Friendship Circle programs. This year, we made our FC Lounge more accessible by adding accessible game tools, such as adaptive tools to turn sand timers and roll dice, braille playing cards, tactile Rubik’s cubes, and other sensory items. We look forward to welcoming new and old groups again next year!

Recent blog posts

Weekly Roundup: June 21, 2024

TwitterFacebookLinkedinPrintemailFOTT Cafe This week Friends on the Town had their last Cafe of the program year. Throughout the year our host committee selected their favorite restaurants to mimic their menu from. Themes included Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread, Chipotle, and our final theme of Olive Garden. This week our menu included spaghetti, vegetarian meatballs, salad, garlic bread, and mini no-bake cheesecakes! Members had… Read More

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Nasso Much

TwitterFacebookLinkedinPrintemailA WEEKLY TORAH THOUGHT FROM RABBI MORDY This week’s Parsha (Nasso) discusses the end of the census and teaches various laws. It also discusses the inauguration of the Tabernacle, detailing the offerings brought by each of the tribes. Curious that each offering was identical and yet each was described. (For more on this, please see my thought from last year!)… Read More

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Weekly Roundup: June 14, 2024

TwitterFacebookLinkedinPrintemailFOTT Trip Friends on the Town had a blast at their last Trip of the year. This month we took to the FC Rooftop for a BBQ! Friends got to eat hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, watermelon, and Italian ice. We also got to play plenty of lawn games like table top checkers, Connect 4, and cornhole. We also made keychains and… Read More

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