WHAT MAKES US UNIQUE
Friends Connect Foundation evolved from a small social group founded in 2017 by a sixteen-year-old in Middletown, New Jersey. Our young founder realized that her local teen peers with special needs continued to feel isolated, insecure and incapable of making friends despite the efforts being made to make society more supportive of these individuals. After researching local friendship-making opportunities, our founder soon realized that many existing nonprofits and programs had long waitlists, were strictly sports-oriented, tended to accept larger amounts of elementary-school-aged participants, or did not heavily emphasize the importance of forming long-term friendships. There was a need for better integration and support for adolescents with special needs. Our founder initiated a small social group that allowed for teens both, with and without special needs, to meet and spend time together. As interest in our program vastly increased, Friends Connect Foundation was formed as a New Jersey Nonprofit as a legal entity in Spring of 2018 to accommodate the increasing demand. Our primary goal is to have teens embrace and support each other in long-lasting friendships. We believe that all of our volunteers and participants have the potential to create a lasting impact in the community, to learn new skills, and to celebrate each other’s differences.
Michael had a great time! On the ride home he said “friends” and had the biggest smile on his face that I have ever seen. I was able to converse with the other parents by comparing stories about our children, offering one another advice, and making each other laugh. The volunteers were enthusiastic and the activities were appropriate and fun. As a former special education teacher, I was very impressed with the ease with which everyone interacted with our children.