Fire Up the Grill!

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Sixty parents came to the Friendship Circle last week for a barbecue dinner and a brainstorming session. There were plenty of laughs, conversation and camaraderie at the indoor event as the parents of children with special needs got to spend a few hours enjoying an evening out.

Among those in attendance was Joan Hocky, a mother of two teen boys — Ben, 15, an FC volunteer, and Vaughn, 13, an FC participant. “I appreciate the opportunity to meet other parents because we have a lot in common,” she says.

Adeena Hudes agrees. “It’s good to get out and to be with other parents,” says Hudes, whose 11-year-old son, Itai, has special needs. She add that having a chance to meet with other parents in similar situations is “very important and helpful.”

In addition to dinner and networking, parents heard about some new Friendship Circle programs, like the Hebrew School pilot program for children ages 7 to 10.

A good chunk of the evening was spent going over the plans for LifeTown and Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, executive director of the Friendship Circle, made it clear he views the center as a partnership with the parents. “Share your ideas,” he told the parents. “Think about the [LifeTown] project and how we can make it that much better.”

A raffle drawing was also held, lending an air of levity to the event. Prizes included gift certificates to a kosher restaurant, shoe store and spa; a night at a local hotel and a cookbook package.

The Friendship Circle “is one of the most valuable organizations I can be involved in. … They are what they say they are,” says Barbara Young, whose adult son, Gregory, has a traumatic brain injury.  Though older than other FC participants, Gregory is visited by FC volunteers who are now in graduate school. “I just think the Friendship Circle is the best and I’m very fortunate to have this resource in my neighborhood.”

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