2nd annual walk set for March 8
By Deb Silverthorn
The Dallas Friendship Circle invites the community to join its 2020 Walk4Friendship. Beginning at noon, Sunday, March 8, at Kramer Elementary School, a walk around the campus will be followed by a carnival, from 1 to 3 p.m., with fun for all ages.
“Friendship Circle brings those living with special needs, their family members, and others from throughout the community together for fun activities, weekly visits, special events and, for our parents, the opportunity to sit back and watch memories be made,” said Dallas Friendship Circle Director and Program Coordinator Leah Dubrawsky. “The Friendship Circle introduces and expands friendships and socialization with all types of people.”
The Dallas chapter of Friendship Circle is one of more than 80 groups in 60 cities around the world, cultivating friendships between more than 7,000 children living with special needs and nearly 11,000 teen volunteers.
Dubrawsky and her husband, Rabbi Levi Dubrawsky, lead Dallas Friendship Circle, an affiliate of Chabad of North Texas, together with adviser, and board chair, Eileen Kreisler and board members Cynthia Christnagel, Dr. Aaron Kreisler, Dr. Benton Middleman and Abigail Ruttenberg.
“Friendship Circle brings together all abilities to make each person’s life stronger, brighter and to be touched,” said Eileen Kreisler. “It’s no ‘us,’ or ‘them,’ it’s only ‘we.’ Everyone is a friend, and everyone has something important to bring to another. The sense of belonging is important to each of us and my wish is to see it continue and to grow.”
Friendship Circle’s programming includes a winter camp, parent workshops, sibling circles, relaxing nights out, home visits, the yearly walk and carnival. Its Mitzvah Volunteer Program allows children to collect items the organization needs, and or become more personally involved.
For 12-year-old Natalie Rubin, collecting art supplies, sensory toys, snacks and even bubble machines for Dallas’ Friendship Circle meant creating an opportunity for many to share in the mitzvah of giving.
“I’m so glad I learned about Friendship Circle and I’m excited to get more involved. At camp we played with kids, we sang songs and I felt connected right away,” said Rubin, who was first introduced by going to Winter Camp at the JCC, then met Dubrawsky at Levine Academy, where she is a seventh-grade student. “It’s a fun experience and I definitely recommend it.”
Jeffrey Harberg, Kreisler’s grandson, has followed in his grandmother’s footsteps and heartbeats as a volunteer with the Friendship Circle since its beginning.
“Becoming involved is one of the best decisions I’ve made,” said the Greenhill School senior, who has joined in the Friends at Home, Sunday Circle and the Teen Leadership Board. “I’ve formed bonds with so many kids, with and without special needs, and this organization is a very important and special part of my life.”
Part of the work of the Teen Leadership Board is planning the March 8 event, their goal to create fun for those already participating and to make the rest of the community more aware of the group. For Harberg, the success is proven with the smiles he sees on the children’s faces.
“I’ve learned that everyone deserves the chance to shine,” said Harberg. “We try to give every person, no matter their age, size or abilities, the chance to have a spotlight if they want it. I’m so proud of the work we’ve done in that regard, and the rest of the world needs to understand that every person is very special in one way or another.”
To register for the Walk4Friendship or carnival tickets, visit tinyurl.com/Walk4Friendship-Dallas. For more general Friendship Circle information, visit friendshipdallas.org.