Birmingham #44 Connecting and Protecting Hearts

Friendship Circle is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded 26 years ago. The organization has built a reputation for excellence in developing and delivering programs for individuals with special needs in the Southeast Michigan community. Friendship Circle started in the home of founders Rabbi Levi and Bassie Shemtov, with just eight volunteers meeting four families each week to provide support and friendship. Today, the organization supports 3,000 individuals and their families with the assistance of hundreds of dedicated volunteers.

Friendship Circle’s mission is to create friendship in the lives of children, teens, and adults with special needs and those facing isolation while providing opportunities for those we serve to become contributing members of the community. Through programming, Friendship Circle promotes an inclusive community that values all individuals. Due to generous supporters, the mission is accomplished through educational, recreational, social, and vocational training programs at three facilities in West Bloomfield, Michigan.

Birmingham #44 Free and Accepted Masons donation allowed for the purchase and installation of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at our Farber Center. Friendship Circle opened the Farber Center in 2016 to offer programs to support adults with special needs. The programs include the Soul Studio Art Program and the Soul Café Training Program. The Soul Studio Art Program helps participants find fulfillment in creating and selling unique works of art. Through educational art programming, artists discover and work in a variety of art media including painting, drawing, ceramics, weaving, sculpture, woodworking, and digital arts. The program takes place in a fully-equipped, professional art studio. Completed artwork is exhibited in the attached Soul Gallery and outside exhibitions open to the public. The center is visited by approximately 5,000 community members, individuals with special needs, and Friendship Circle supporters annually. 

Sudden cardiac events can happen to anyone, at any time, and in any location. The American Heart Association reports that nine in ten people experiencing cardiac arrest who receive a shock from an AED device in the first minute survive. The installation of an AED unit at the Farber Center will ensure Friendship Circle is prepared to provide prompt medical support while waiting for emergency medical service personnel to arrive, increasing survival outcomes.

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