"My husband and I have spent the past ten years engaging with a wide range of special needs and "regular" community services and supports for our son, who is on the autism spectrum. Throughout his childhood and now adolescence, many of these supports have come and gone. Chabad, however, has offered us consistent opportunities to both focus on our sons' unique qualities (i.e. in Friendship Circle), and to make him feel thoroughly welcome at general community events, as well as at events designed for his age group (e.g. Camp Gan Izzy, C-Teen). They have done so with a deep genuineness , and have never made us feel that we are are a burden in any way. Based on our experience, Chabad truly "walks the inclusion talk", and we are grateful more than we will ever be able to express." - Tammy, Friendship Circle of Calgary Parent

"It’s nice to have friends. Most of us have a close friend, someone we share our feelings with, talk to, go to movies and restaurants or play sports with. We get to know people by talking and understanding the things they enjoy. Having a friend is a wonderful feeling! My son has Autism, which makes it challenging for him to form friendships."

The Friendship Circle of Chabad connects teen volunteers and children with special needs on a weekly basis. I was approached by Rebbetzin Rochel Matusof the Director of the Friendship Circle for Chabad Alberta in Calgary to learn about the opportunities for my son to participate in this program. I was open and willing to welcome the Friendship Circle into my son's life.

In 2011, two young Friendship Circle teen volunteers Ben Cohen and Boris Virine came over to meet my six year old son. The introduction was made and this was the birth of a true and everlasting friendship between my son and “Ben and Boris”. Every week my son had the opportunity to pick a fun activity for the three boys to do. Actives often included playing in parks, going to movies, and singing/dancing to videos; simply all the things that friends do together. On special occasions Ben and Boris took my son on day outings to the Calgary Zoo, Heritage Park and the Science Centre. A true bond was created, and remains strong 7 years later.

I encourage other parents to welcome the Friendship Circle into their lives and enjoy the happiness and joy it brings to your child.

Shirley Anderson, Friendship Circle of Calgary Parent

"The Friendship Circle has been a tremendous opportunity to get more involved in the community in a more meaningful way. Over the past four months I have had the great pleasure of getting to know a wonderful child, Arnold, and his mother. Every Monday my fellow volunteer and I visit them and participate in various activities that help bring joy to the family and help both Arnold's and our own personal development. This program has meant so much to me that it has become a major factor to consider in choosing between staying in Calgary or going away for university studies. Although I cannot predict the future, I certainly believe that my participation in Friendship Circle will continue for a long time to come, and I am very grateful to the program and Arnold for all of the life lessons they have taught me."

Sincerely, Boris Virine, Friendship Circle of Calgary Volunteer