It’s the friendliest event of the year! Get ready to celebrate the night away with teens and young adults, including many with special needs, from over 90 area schools.
Join the Friendship Circle as it hosts the Friendship Effect, Sunday, April 15 at 5 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel, 4200 City Line Ave., Philadelphia. The annual gala fundraiser supports inclusive friendships made throughout our community! This year’s event will honor the organization’s teens and young adults with and without special needs, as well as Meegan Rubin, founder, and creator of LibertyMe Dance Center in Bryn Mawr.
Philly Friendship Circle is a non-profit organization, which connects teens and young adults to others their age with special needs, and their families, through a full range of social offerings. Inspired by the power of genuine friendship, the organization’s young people cultivate understanding, kindness and responsibility while ensuring a caring and inclusive community.
This year’s gala event is a celebration of the organization’s teens and young adults, including some with special needs. The event’s teen co-chair, Daniel Meadvin, says supporting the event is important because it serves as a catalyst for relationships that might not otherwise have a chance to form.
Meadvin, now a senior at Kohelet Yeshiva High School, in Lower Merion, has been a volunteer since he was in eighth grade and says he loves going to his buddy’s house as part of the “Friends at Home” program and watching his face light up with a smile. “Volunteering with Friendship Circle is an extremely unique experience, and something that will take getting used to,” he said. “In many ways, I’m still adapting to what’s a constantly-changing dynamic between my buddy and me. But I promise, it’s worth the effort.”
For young adults like Riffy Wolpert, an individual with special needs, who is the co-chair of the Friendship Effect and participates in Sunday Circle programming, having a friend to spend time with each week makes his day.
“I like being with Emily, my buddy,” he said. “I like her company, her energy to get me excited and involved. And I like sharing my experiences and friends with her.”
The Friendship Effect will be a night to celebrate the many wonderful friendships, like Riffy and Emily’s, which are made through supporting Philly Friendship Circle.
The gala event will also honor Meegan Rubin, who has made it her life’s work to create a place where children can express themselves creatively through dance and music. All profits generated from the dance studio are donated to charity- including Friendship Circle- through the LibertyMe Foundation, with children playing an integral role in that effort.
LibertyMe and Philly Friendship Circle first crossed paths when Rubin met Executive Board Secretary Jaime Gordon, who told her about the organization, Rubin said.
“I met Jaime and we clicked immediately,” said Rubin. “Then, Jaime introduced me to Friendship Circle and we clicked immediately too. Wonderful how that happens, right?”
“We are so thrilled to have Meegan as part of our Friendship Circle family,” said Gordon. “Friendships like hers help open up a whole new world for all of us.”
Philly Friendship Circle and LibertyMe have the same goals of providing children with the tools they need to succeed in life and a nurturing place where they feel they can belong, Rubin said. Being recognized at the Friendship Effect gala was an honor.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this event” she said, “and couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.”
“The simple concept that everyone needs a friend has expansive benefits for everyone involved,” said Kami and Josh Verne, co-chairs of the gala. “It provides a social lifeline for youth with special needs, much needed support for their families and a transformative life experience for teenage volunteers.”Parking and registration for the gala begins at 4:45 p.m. and the program will kick-off promptly at 5:15 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner and wine bar. Dietary laws will be observed. Complimentary self-parking and valet service will be available. The attire is dressy casual. Individual tickets are on sale for $125. For full details, visit PhillyFriendship.com/gala.