“Jewish Big Brothers Big Sister’s Friend 2 Friend program is about two people in a one-to-one relationship,” says Director of Friend 2 Friend, Jan Klein. “On a basic level, Friend 2 Friend fosters meaningful friendships between a volunteer and an adult with a disability. With no formal intention, the program enriches individual lives.”
Friend 2 Friend builds on the one-to-one mentoring model inherent in JBBBS programs for Children. It affords adults with disabilities an opportunity to connect with a new friend, growing the support system for adults who have found themselves socially-isolated.
In Friend 2 Friend Community Program, match pairs meet once to a few times per month; participants and volunteers structure their time together according to their interests and availability. Further, Friend 2 Friend Community match pairs meet other participants and volunteers at program events throughout the year, growing community for everyone involved. Many matches stay connected well beyond the one year required by the program, noting the sense of comradery and friendship, of being a part of something even bigger than the match, is attractive.
In Friend 2 Friend MAGIC (an acronym for Monthly Activity Groups In the Community), match pairs enjoy a time-limited (one evening per month) activity organized entirely by the JBBBS organization. It’s an ideal opportunity, says Klein, for those participants and volunteers who have limited time to spare and who would enjoy, or benefit from, the interaction with the group.
In both programs, friendship itself is the core benefit to participation. For volunteers, and perhaps more so for participants involved in Friend 2 Friend programs, friendship teaches social skill-building.
Ultimately, says Klein, “Friend 2 Friend is a community. [Our programs] bring people together without labels attached. We offer an opportunity for adults to socialize as adults. Community happens so naturally for many of our volunteers, but it’s more difficult for participants who lack the outlet for it. Here, adults with disabilities identify a peer group to call friends.”
Recalling the quote from Henry Drummond, Klein adds, “Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world.”