Looking Back at 2021

Tuesday, 28 December, 2021 - 4:07 pm

As the eve of 2022 is upon us, let’s take a look back and reflect on what an amazing year we have had here at the Friendship Circle.


Zoom Sunday Circles

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In January we welcomed in the new year. Even with COVID still going on, we managed to start off 2021 on the right foot. We couldn’t have Sunday Circle in-person. However, we continued doing it over Zoom. Our participants and their teen buddies got to experience the magic that Sunday Circle brings from their own homes. From music with Wendy to Kung Fu with Sifu Kim, our participants and buddies still had a great time.



Purim Deliveries

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In February we delivered delicious treats and goodies. This year the holiday of Purim took place on February 26th. Purim is a festive and joyous time and even during the pandemic we made sure everyone in our circle got to enjoy the holiday. From the help of our staff, volunteers, leadership board members, and staff, we delivered Purim gift baskets and Shalach Manot to our wonderful families and participants. We absolutely loved seeing their smiles when delivering the gifts.



Virtual Playdates


In March we hung out with our friends. Many times children and teens with disabilities are excluded from play dates. Play dates are an essential way for children and teens to build lasting friendships with their peers. That’s why we were so excited that we got to hold playdates for our participants through the world of Zoom. Once or twice a week, a few of our participants and volunteers would get together over Zoom to chat, play games, and do crafts just like they would do at an in-person play date. Huge thanks to everyone who made these possible.



Mom's Night In

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In April we relaxed with some painting and good company. Mom’s Night Out is a great opportunity for our moms to get together and support each other while doing fun and relaxing activities together. We wanted to keep this going during the pandemic so we started Mom’s Night In so that our moms could still get together and enjoy each other’s company. One of our Mom’s Night In events was an at home painting and wine night. We put together bags of paint, brushes, easels, and of course wine, and delivered them to our moms. Then over Zoom we were guided through a painting class. These events were so much fun and we can’t wait to go back to Mom’s Night Out next year.



Virtual Gala

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In May we came together to support our community. Our Annual Heroes Gala is one of our biggest events of the year. Usually we hold it in person, but for the past two years we have gone virtual. However, the virtual format didn’t slow us down. Our staff, volunteers, and parent chairs worked hard to make this one of our best galas yet. We also want to thank news anchor Matt Lorch from Q13 news. He helped make our virtual gala an exciting and engaging experience.



Summer Carnival

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In June we enjoyed the start of Summer. On June 13th we had the end of the year Summer carnival. It was one of our first in-person events of the year and it did not disappoint. The infamous Bubble Man gave a much anticipated bubble show producing squeals and giggles from audience members. Inside the SJCC gym, volunteers set up a dozen booths with fun games, activities and prizes. The in-person event felt like a celebration of the end of a long year of isolation which was especially difficult for families with special needs children. 



We Rock the Spectrum 

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In July we jumped for joy. As a substitute for Sunday Circles, our participants and their buddies got to hang out and play at We Rock the Spectrum. Inside there are multiple play structures such as swings, a trampoline, and a zip-line. There’s also a play kitchen and a special Snoezelen room for our participants when they need some peace and quiet. These events at We Rock the Spectrum were a lifesaver for our participants during the summer months.



Leadership Board Retreat

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In August we learned what it means to be a leader. The leadership board plays a critical role in FC’s programming and what better way to get the 2021-2022 year started than with a retreat. Our new leadership board met up at Gas Works park and did everything from a workshop on understanding FC’s mission statement to team building exercises, to developing the leadership board culture. This retreat showed us what an amazing group of leaders we have this year.



Onboarding Three New Staff Members

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In September we saw a lot of new faces. Throughout the month we were so happy to bring three new staff members into our FC circle. 


Ciara Coughlan (left) is our new Executive Assistant. She was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and received her BA in international affairs from CU Boulder this past May. So far she has loved exploring Seattle and getting to know all the wonderful families, participants, and volunteers at Friendship Circle. 


Jess Frankel Carrel (middle) is our new Volunteer and Program Coordinator. She was also born and raised in Denver, Colorado and received her BA in anthropology and dance from American University. She has loved all of the scenery and delicious coffee that Seattle has to offer. 


Kimberleigh Bechtolt (right) is our new Program Manager. She grew up in Detroit, Michigan and was a volunteer at the Friendship Circle of Michigan when she was in high school. She received her BA in psychology from Ohio State University and her Masters in nonprofit management from Northeastern University. She’s so happy to be working for the organization that is so special to her.



First In-Person Sunday Circle Since 2020

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In October we had some exciting changes. After a year and a half of virtual programming we were so excited to have our first in-person Sunday Circle since 2020. Sunday Circle took place on October 3rd at our new location, The Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. We welcomed new friends and old friends and got to experience all the fun activities Sunday Circle has to offer, such as arts and crafts, music with Dianna and Wendy, and Kung Fu with Sifu Kim. We can’t wait to continue doing more in-person Sunday Circles in 2022.



Chanukah Party 

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In November we saw bright lights and bright smiles. On November 29th we had a wonderful in-person Chanukah party. We all gathered together at The Mercer Island Beach Club, for a delicious dinner with latkes and donuts. There was a Menorah art project on hand for all to creatively design and build, dreidels, and a live outdoor fire show. This was an awesome family Chanukah Celebration!



EMPOWER Year-End Campaign

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In December you EMPOWERED us! The EMPOWER year-end campaign was a huge success. From all the hard work from everyone in our circle, we surpassed our goal and the bonus round and raised over $300,000! This was one of our best campaigns yet and we couldn't have done it without your generous support. This generosity shows us that together we can make our world a more inclusive place for all. 


2021 was a great year filled with growth, hope, joy, and friendship. Thank you all for making it so special. We can't wait to see what's in store for us 2022.  

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