Tonight is the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the Friendship Circle in Toledo, Ohio. Many are unaware of this fabulous program. Founded in 1994 in Detroit Michigan by their local Chabbad. The program matches typical teen age kids with special needs children. The goal of friendship and joy between people with different abilities learning to understand and love one another through regular interaction.
Our family was touched through Rabbi and Mrs. Shemtov, from the Toledo Chabbad and their daughter, Mushka. Starting with a bus trip to the Detroit, home of the initial Friendship Circle, the dream of having this program in a small community like Toledo came to life. Our son, Ross, accompanied us on the trip with an instant chemistry developing between him, Mushka, Rabbi and the program. It was an incredible day and the start of many wonderful memories of Ross with his friends in Friendship Circle. The activities from bowling, to Sunday fun days, to regular visits to our home, to a phenomenal drum concert, created love, joy and spirituality that spread beyond the participants. The energy is contagious.
Rarely was there an event, where Ross’ grandfather, Poppa, didn’t attend. from the initial bus trip to many of the programs. Poppa’s bond with Ross further created a bond with The Friendship Circle. Poppa and Barbie proudly had the Friendship Circle magnet on their cars and shared stories of Friendship Circle with their friends.
The loss of our dear Ross three years ago touched all the members of the Friendship Circle. This only spurned them to continue with even a greater quest to make this program permanent in our community, touching lives in an ever increasing manner. Bringing the special gift of love and joy to all.
Poppa passed away a year after Ross and his memory also is remembered fondly throughout the Friendship Circle. Tonight, on the 5th anniversary of this great program, Ross and Poppa, of blessed memory, will be honored with the Goody and Jean Liber Friendship Award. Our family is proud and honored to accept this award tonight in memory of two incredible people, Ross and Poppa, both of whom created fountains of joy, that will be ever flowing.