The Friendship Circle Las Vegas aims to “raise awareness and resources to create a more inclusive community in Southern Nevada for individuals with disabilities.” Here, Rabbi Levi and Nechama Harlig, directors of The Friendship Circle Las Vegas, discuss how the 30-year-old nonprofit came to be and how locals can take part in the upcoming Walk4Friendship Las Vegas.
What is the mission of The Friendship Circle Las Vegas? Friendship Circle works to create a more inclusive community for individuals with disabilities. Our programs engage children, teens and adults with diverse abilities in a full range of social activities; we aim to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions, creating friendships in a safe and nurturing environment and strengthening both the Jewish and greater communities.
What prompted the start of the nonprofit? Friendship Circle is a worldwide organization which was started in Michigan in 1994 inspired by the Chabad Rebbes belief that none of us is complete unless all of us are included. It is this single concept that motivates our Friendship Circle here in Las Vegas.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with the nonprofit? Seeing the genuine smiles on the faces of everyone who participates and watching friendships form that would not have necessarily come about without The Friendship Circle.
What is the biggest challenge the nonprofit faces? Friendship Circle fundraises on a consistent basis to support the programs and activities that are provided cost free to all participants. Raising the required funds that allow for our consistent programs as well as being able to expand to additional programs and activities is the biggest challenge Friendship Circle faces.
What are your goals for 2023? Some goals we have for 2023, alongside continuing our general programing, is to launch a popup bakery providing job opportunities to our Young Adult Club Participants, and begin a pilot program called Umatter, focusing on shattering the stigma surrounding mental health challenges in the teen community.
How can readers help? We love spreading our message of inclusion beyond the walls of Friendship Circle, attending Walk4Friendship and bringing friends and family along allows us to further our reach. Additionally, all Friendship Circle programming is provided cost free keeping in line with our belief that “you can’t put a price on friendship.” Supporters and sponsors help make this possible!
Does the nonprofit have any events or fundraisers on the horizon? The Friendship Circle Las Vegas will hold its annual Walk4Friendship Las Vegas community fundraiser on Sunday, March 26, at the Las Vegas Sports Park to raise awareness and resources to create a more inclusive community in Southern Nevada for individuals with disabilities. In addition to the approximately 1-mile walk starting at 11 a.m., the event will feature a free community carnival at noon with fun for the whole family, including a zip line, trackless train, video game truck, mechanical bull, rock climbing wall, air jumpers, petting zoo and pony rides. The walk and carnival are free and open to the public, although donations are encouraged. Walk participants will receive a commemorative T-shirt and can enjoy giveaways, lunch, and guest celebrity appearances at the carnival. Check-in starts at 10 a.m., welcome ceremony and walk at 11 a.m., and the carnival is at noon.