As a young child, one of my favorite things to do was to play with dolls. I’d put the cherubic, curly haired babies in the doll stroller and walk them around the house, taking care of them as though they were real. And, in my mind, they were. Perfect, chubby and flawless. Just exactly how I imagined all babies to be. How I imagined my future children to be.
Years later, when I was pregnant with my own children, I was confident that each would be born exactly as my childhood dolls; perfect, chubby and flawless. I took the recommended tests with a mixture of assumption and apprehension. I would wait nervously for the results. And, I was lucky because always, they proved to show nothing irregular or concerning.
So, I’d chug along, swollen and bloated, expecting my expected.
All three pregnancies were basically textbook. Give or take a blood clot and some hemorrhaging. But that was me, not the baby. Oh, the fun.
All three times, I gave birth to healthy, screaming, perfectly APGAR scored babies. As they grew, they proved to remain healthy, both emotionally and physically. We won’t get into the terrible fours and the trials and tribulations of having pre-teens and teens. Because THAT is a book, in and of itself.
I was lucky.
They are lucky.
Because, that’s what it is. Luck. Pure and simple.
Recently, I’ve fallen in love with a place. The Friendship Circle. For people with special needs and their families.
I had heard so much about this wonderful non-profit organization through friends and through seeing the round purple bumper sticker magnet thing on EVERY FLIPPING CAR in my area. But, I had never been there. I didn’t see any reason for me to go there. Remember, I’m lucky. My kids are lucky. We don’t have any special needs so really? What would the point be.
HA! Was I wrong.
You walk into The Friendship Circle and you realize that good and kind do exist in this world. Here. In West Bloomfield, Michigan.
I was lucky. I was asked to get involved in the Friendship Circle. I met @RecoveryRabbi through Twitter and then, through Future Midwest, a conference that took place here in Royal Oak. He put me in touch with one of the founders, Bassie Shemtov. And through Bassie and the Rabbi, I had a full tour.
Saying I was in awe doesn’t even begin to cover the what I felt.
Seeing this place in action. Beautiful children with a full spectrum of special needs, wandering around this place either with a caregiver or by themselves…learning, playing, interacting. Gathering life skills in a non-threatening environment so that they can one day go out into the world and know how to do things we take for granted. Like cross a street or make a doctors appointment.
These kids, who on a regular day may get stared at, judged or bullied because of their differences, can come here and feel as special as they are.
Volunteers that run the little town are patient and incredible. The teens that volunteer share beautiful friendships with the children.
The Friendship Circle has given people with special needs and their families a safe place to go with opportunity to learn and to grow…
This is the greatest Mitzvah.
And that, to me, is what completely and honestly sums up the Friendship Circle.
The greatest mitzvah of all.
They are having a Walk 4 Friendship to raise money to make the facility larger so that they can accommodate adults with special needs, as well. Please, check out that link and if you can donate, even $1, please consider it for this amazing place.
The Friendship Circle has made me realize that luck is all in the way you look at it.