GOOD Morning Wilton senior intern Amanda Greenberg has volunteered with an organization called the Friendship Circle since starting high school. As she prepares to graduate next month, she looks back at what the experience has meant to her. 

Being able to make friendships and connections with people is one of the most important traits a person can have. Luckily, I was introduced to an organization that helps with just that. My freshman year of high school I got involved with the Friendship Circle.  At first I was clueless about what this was and what I was going to be doing. After attending one meeting I was intrigued. I learned that the Friendship Circle is a Jewish organization that connects children with special needs with other children in their community. I love kids and I love being able to make people happy–this was the perfect combination.

I remember clearly the first day I visited my special friend Chloe at her house. It was a Sunday morning in the fall, and my dad dropped me off at her home. I walked up to the front door, not knowing what to expect. I knocked, and a few seconds later, a little girl the age of 5 opened the front door with a huge smile on her face. I had never met her before, but I knew right away we were going to be friends. The one hour I spent with Chloe flew by. We played games, jumped on the trampoline, and did arts and crafts. When it was time for me to leave, her mom pulled me over and thanked me for what I was doing. She said her daughter does not have many friends at school because of her disability, and to have an older girl come over and play once a week is extremely exciting for her.

From just a couple years of working with special needs kids and other teens, I have learned so much about life and about myself. I learned how to connect with special children and at the same time I learned the amazing value of giving back and the power of friendship. Also, the special needs children make friends that play with them and teach them new things.

Emma Caplan, a Staples High School senior who has been involved with the Friendship Circle for a long time, agrees with how important the relationships are for everyone involved. “Working with Ethan has inspired me and taught me so much about myself. I love seeing him every Thursday, it’s the highlight of my week.”

This organization really impacts so many people, and is such a great program of which to be a part. Making the decision to get involved my freshman year definitely was one of the best decisions I have made. It is such a rewarding experience that I would never give up.

The Friendship Circle started with just eight volunteers, who visited only three children a week. It has grown tremendously since then, with more than 79 chapters worldwide, and it has grown to involve around 11,000 teen volunteers who have  worked with 5,000 special children.

The program has really touched me, and I know anyone who gets involved will have a brilliant experience as well.

To learn more or to get involved visit the Friendship Circle website.