It’s Parents Night Out as FC Hosts Annual Barbecue

!IMG_6221It was a beautiful evening for the annual Friendship Circle Parents Barbecue as three dozen couples – all parents of children with special needs – gathered recently for a night of good food and good fun.

Among those in attendance were Alexandra and David Kerner. “It’s nice to just do something for yourself,” says Alexandra Kerner, noting this was the first time she and her husband — who have two girls Samantha, 4, and Madeline,  7 — had come to the yearly barbecue.

IMG_6186According to Steve Rome, “One of the big draws for us as parents is the camaraderie with other parents. … All of our friends are in this circle. They understand our kids and they understand what we are going through.”

Rome and his wife Heidi are the parents of Ethan, 9, and Eric, 12.

Held at a private residence in Livingston, the couples were eager to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. They were also eager to hear the latest on FC events and the future of LifeTown, the 47,000-square-foot inclusive social and recreational center that Friendship Circle is building. The centerpiece of the building will be Life Village, a fully functioning town square with shops and businesses where teens and young adults will be able to practice critical life and job skills.

!IMG_6185!IMG_6196!IMG_6183For details on LifeTown, the parents turned to FC Executive Director Zalman Grossbaum who told them that the fundraising goal is in sight and construction is ready to begin just as soon as the funding is in place. LifeTown will cost an estimated $13.5 million to build, with construction set to begin once $10 million is raised. Currently, the campaign is at $9.1 million.

“We need to change mindsets, we need to change the status quo,” Grossbaum told the parents. The goal is “not that we accommodate everyone. Rather, the goal is to create a world where everyone has an equal part and lives up to their potential.”

It was a message that resonated with parents who are eager to see LifeTown built and available for use.

As Steve Rome said, “LifeTown is incredibly important. It will introduce Ethan to the things he needs to know when he is out in the world. They will address these things at his school, but LifeTown is designed to put these skills into practical use.”

For more on Lifetown and Friendship Circle, log on to or, or call 973-251-0200.

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