The presidents club gathered for its final meeting on June 9. The Friendship Circle said goodbye to 80 volunteers who have served as ambassadors to their schools and communities, taking on responsibilities beyond what most of Friendship Circle’s 800 teen volunteers. These are the ones Friendship Circle counts on to put in extra hours, take on leadership roles at events, raise funds and bring a team to the Friendship Circle Walk, and help develop programs.
They represent schools across Essex and Morris Counties: secular, religious, public and private. Week in and week out they volunteer, attend meetings, recruit their friends, and help make Friendship Circle what it is.
On Thursday, Friendship Circle sent them off with one more mitzvah assignment: to share a challah with someone who might welcome a little extra attention. They got to put the finishing touches on the challah – selecting the toppings and baking the loaves. While some commented on the delicious smells produced once they were in the ovens, others shared who received the loaves – one volunteer brought a challah to his 84-year-old neighbor living alone.
It turns out, not surprisingly, that volunteers get out as much as they put in. Some gain unexpected benefits from their hours at LifeTown.
Moriah Needle, from West Orange, who has been volunteering for about seven years, shared that through her time at Friendship Circle, she developed close friendships beyond her close-knit religious circle, widening her own understanding of community. She was at first worried that she might be too religious for some of the secular volunteers. “No one judges. No matter your background, everyone made friends,” she said. And every Sunday morning, she looked forward not only to spending time with her buddy, but also hanging out with a bagel in the student lounge with the other volunteers. “They are all good kids, and at the end of the day, we are all coming in with the same values–giving our time to do chesed.”
We wish Moriah, her friends, and the rest of this year’s presidents well as they graduate, and we welcome the newest cohort of presidents.