The Friendship Circle of Las Vegas is a one of a kind, non-profit, community based organization that builds lasting friendships and cultivates life skills for special needs children, teens and young adults. First established in 2016, the Friendship Circle has been providing services to a growing number of children in need, introducing new, exciting programs and forging genuine friendships to last a lifetime!
The Friendship Circle fills a gap that no other organization in Las Vegas addresses to date, blending diverse friendships through one-on-one relationship building and mentoring. We recruit, teach and empower teenage volunteers to mentor our special needs children by building their leadership skills, and by fostering the values of altruism, and volunteerism. At the same time, our programs engage young people with and without special needs to learn, celebrate, and play side by side as friends and mentors.
The Friendship Circle currently consists multiple programs that fulfill the mission of the organization – providing social interaction, recreational opportunities, life skills training, community outreach, and family involvement. Programs include, a weekly “Friends at Home” Program, Monthly Family Events, Sunday Circle, A Young Adults Club, Volunteer Events and Workshops, Mom’s and Dad’s Night Out, Shabbat Dinners and more! For more information please click here.
Our participating children are paired with an exceptional team of teen mentors, a majority enrolled in 9th through 12th grade from several Las Vegas High Schools, along with volunteers from UNLV . TheFriendship Circle –
- a) offersfriendshipand acceptance to children, teens and adults with special needs, regardless of their personal level of ability,
- b) provides respite, comfort and renewed strength to their families,
- c)empowers teenagers by enabling them to volunteer directly with our children.
The program has two primary target populations: children with any special need (“disability”) and teenage volunteers. Until 2017, we primarily served children ages 5-18, occasionally accepting children as young as three into some programs. But now responding to the needs of our community we have grown to serve young adults – ages 18+.
We currently serve over 60 children, teens, and young adults with special needs. Approximately 80% of these children fall within the autism spectrum.
The FC LV has close 100 teenage volunteers serving as mentors and friends, often for many years, to our special needs children. These young volunteers provide more than 2,000 hours of service to our special needs children yearly.
This particularly powerful program ensures that children and teens with special needs are visited in the privacy and comfort of their own home. Pairs of teenage volunteers visit the homes of children and teens with special needs on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. They form a close relationship with the children, while affording the parents a much-needed break…
The Friendship Circle of Las Vegas is an independent chapter of Friendship Circle International, which has more than 80 regional chapters worldwide serving children with special needs. The FC of Las Vegas receives no funding from the International office.
Our budget for 2018/19 has projected expenses of $115,000. Administrative costs are $23,000, or only 20% of the total.
The FC of Las Vegas a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives no financial operating support from any agency. All operating funds are based on financial contributions from individuals, corporations and grants. Sources of revenue include the annual Walkathon, individual and corporate donations, and private donors.
Our small, passionate, committed staff is led by key personnel Rabbi Levi Harlig and Nechama Harlig. Together, they have shaped The Friendship Circle as Directors since it’s small pilot program began in 2016.
The Friendship Circle also maintains a pool of instructors and therapists as well as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist. The FC of Las Vegas also guided by its Committee of Parents , composed of some prominent medical and therapeutic professionals, along with community leaders who provide their leadership, knowledge, and support to achieve program goals.
The Friendship Circle is a separate 501c3 nonprofit, raising funds from the local community to operate its programs and growth. The Chabad’s supporters have been instrumental in providing the guidance, funding and operational framework which allows for the FC’S operations. The Friendship Circle provides services to families and children of all denominations, and 80% of the children we serve are non-secular, drawing from all race and religion in our community.