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MasterChef Moms Compete at Friendship Circle Mom’s Night Out

A special thank you to Andrea Birnbaum for photography of this event!

It’s not every night you get to compete and participate in a reality food competition! That is precisely what happened on Wednesday, January 20 for over 30 mothers of children with needs.

Friendship Circle arranges over 15 mom’s and dad’s nights out throughout the year which are designed to provide much-needed respite and relaxation to parents of children with special needs.

Wednesday’s event took the definition of a mom’s night out to a whole new level. The event, called MasterChef FC, was held at the beautiful Henry Ford West Bloomfield Demo Kitchen and featured delicious wine and salads for the moms to enjoy.

The Main Event

FC MasterChef Mom Contestants

Contestants from left to right: Melanie Maas, Deanna Granitz, Jennifer Moss, Lisa Labelle, Stacy Larson, Jen Lovy.

The main event featured a MasterChef-style contest where six moms were divided into three teams of two people each.

Competition among Friendship Circle moms was nothing short of fierce on Wednesday night when three teams of “chefs” squared off in Henry Ford Hospital’s Demonstration Kitchen for the chance to be crowned Friendship Circle MasterChef. This talented group of amateur chefs – and by talented, we mean they didn’t burn down the kitchen – had 30 minutes to wow a panel of celebrity judges with their culinary skills and creativity in the kitchen.

Moms Masterchef

Deanna Granitz removes the mystery box and reveals the ingredients she will use.

Each team was given a mystery box with multiple ingredients and instructions to use at least three of the ingredients. They were also given access to a stocked cabinet and the option to use salmon or chicken. As fellow Friendship Circle mom’s watched from the audience, the blue, red and yellow teams chopped, mixed, cooked and sautéed a unique signature dish. The results were nothing short of… unique.

FC Masterchef

The Judges

The Judges

To judge the contestants Friendship Circle brought in a trio of celebrity chefs with extensive experience in the Metro Detroit Area.

Hunny Benarroch

Hunny Benarroch
Hunny grew up in an observant Jewish family, where her cultural roots were expressed in the form of authentic recipes from Morocco, Israel, and Spain. From a young age, Hunny closely watched her mother prepare these dishes from scratch. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she began to recreate these dishes with her own approach, but still maintain classic flavors and techniques she had grown up with.
After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Business and Communications, Hunny decided to hone her culinary skills by enrolling in the Art Institute of Michigan’s Culinary Arts program.  This invaluable experience has allowed her to work with countless inspiring chefs, clients, and organizations. She strongly believes in the importance of sustaining life through eating well. She will be the Executive Chef of Friendship Circle’s Soul Cafe when it opens in the spring of 2016.

Hassan MusselmaniHassan Musselmani

Born in Detroit and raised in the Metro Detroit area, Chef Hassan Musselmani’s extensive culinary background and passion for food started as a young man in his family’s kitchen.

Working in the culinary world since the age of thirteen, Hassan has continued to gain knowledge and experience that has lead to his opening of several Metro Detroit venues and to being an integral part of the accomplishments of many popular local restaurants.

Hassan is currently competing on Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.

Brandon Schatko

Brandon Schatko

Brandon Schatko has extensive experience and is renowned as one of Metro Detroit’s top executive chefs.
After graduating from Wayne State in 2011, Brandon immediately assumed the role of executive chef and has developed and managed some of downtown Detroit’s finest restaurants.
Brandon has experience as an executive chef in a number of different environments including golf clubs, hotels and even assisting in the planning and execution of the Belle Isle Grand Prix, feeding 18,000 People.

The Dishes

The contestnts

Dish #1

Lisa Labelle and Jennifer Moss of the Blue Team, managed to impress the judges with their wildly imaginative presentation of salmon, fig couscous, stir fry and star fruit.

Dish #1

Dish #2

Melanie Maas and Denna Granitz of the Red Team, worked feverishly on their signature dish – a chicken slaw with peanut sauce. Like the Blue Team, they also garnished their plate with star fruit.

dish #2

Dish #3

Stacy Larson and Jen Lovy rounded off the competition as the Yellow Team.  Together, they prepared an Asian-inspired salmon and stir fry. This dynamic duo was the only team to prepare a dessert to accompany their entrée. Unfortunately, their chocolate covered strawberries failed to impress the panel of judges because one Yellow Team chef failed to realize the chocolate was unsweetened and in desperate need of sugar – lots of sugar.

Dish #3

The Winner

Despite the dessert debacle, the judges found the Yellow Team’s salmon the most palatable and well-presented dish of the evening.

IMG_1585

Bonus Round

Little did the judges know that a surprise was in store for them. After the winners were announced. the judges were asked to cook a dish of their own! Check out all the pictures below.

Our Top 10 Highlights of 2015

#1 You

The number one highlight of 2015 was you! We would like to say thank you for being in our circle of friendship. Your participation is what makes the nine other highlights on this list possible. Whether you participated in programming, volunteered or donated to Friendship Circle we thank you for being our #1 supporter.

If you have not yet donated this year, we ask for your kind support of Friendship Circle’s End of Year Campaign that will help raise crucial funds for Friendship Circle’s wide range of programs. It’s not what you give that is so precious, it’s how much of yourself is invested in the gift and for that, we say thank you!

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#2 Farber Soul Center Gets Started

Construction on Farber Soul Center is near completion with several pilot programs underway to help give young adults with special needs an opportunity to show their creative talents and learn much needed skills for the workplace.

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#3 1 Million Participants in the Great Bike Giveaway

The Great Bike Giveaway, a campaign that gives adaptive bikes to children with special needs, had over 1 million people participate in a contest that saw 145 children receive a custom, adaptive bike.

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#4 Suicide Prevention Initiative Launched

The Daniel B. Sobel Friendship House launches a suicide prevention program that teaches effective intervention skills to teens while helping to build suicide prevention networks in the community. Several lives have already been saved since program launch.

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#5 Satellite Branch in Oak Park

With the help of The Jewish Fund five new after school programs are started to cater to families of children with special needs in Oak Park, Huntington Woods and Southfield.

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#6 An Amazing Israel Experience

With the support of the William Davidson Foundation, Friendship Circle took 6 families with children that have special needs, volunteers and support staff to Israel. This trip was the first ever accessible family mission to Israel.

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#7 Shabbat at the Spa Inspires

The 2nd annual Shabbat at the Spa, a much deserved retreat providing inspiration and respite for 30 moms of children with special needs. The retreat sold out in one day.

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#8 New Programs in West Bloomfield

This year we started eight new programs from the Ferber Kaufman LifeTown, our flagship facility in West Bloomfield. New programs included four sports clinics, three new cooking programs, and a drumming program.

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#9 Student #20,000!

Friendship Circle welcomed its 20,000th Lessons For Life student to the Weinberg Village. The Lessons For Life program teaches crucial life skills to students from across Metro Detroit.

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#10 10 Years of Walk4Friendship!

We celebrated our 10th annual Walk4Friendship bringing together over 5,000 people in an inclusive and fun community event.

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Give the Gift of Friendship

Make an end-of-year donation to Friendship Circle and help provide friendship and inclusive opportunities for children, teens and young adults with special needs. Help make the end of 2015 a great one at Friendship Circle.
Thank You!

$18
$36
$54
$100
$500


Art & Soul Event Helps to Build New Farber Soul Center

Upon entering the site for the future Farber Soul Center on Wednesday November 12th, women from the local community were called to get a little dirt on their heels.

The new facility, located on the corner of Drake and Walnut Lake roads at 5586 Drake Road in West Bloomfield will expand Friendship Circle’s programs into the lives of adults with special needs through the culinary, digital, and traditional arts. As guests walked into the future culinary center they were greeted by a few of Farber Soul Center’s future artists whose faces were filled with excitement as they introduced themselves and were presented with the opportunity to discuss their passions.

The floors were worn, the walls were lined with future construction plans, blueprints were projected, and the soon-to-be studios displayed visuals and films of the creativity they will soon hold. But amongst the construction, murmurs of the beauty were exchanged amongst guests.

Blueprints and Gifts

A blueprint of the Farber Soul Center is projected on the wall showing the gifts made to furnish the soul center.

“It really is going to be something fabulous, and even now look how fabulous everything is! Amongst all of this construction there is the beautiful event decorations, the ambiance is breathtaking.” Said Cookie Lachover.

The 36 women on the committee for the Farber Soul Center provided tours for the 470 women that were in attendance. After the tours the women were given the opportunity to engage with a few artists, ask questions, and learn as much about the center as possible. Stephanie Harris was able to show off her pottery skills as well as her social interaction with the community while Ben Nadis sampled out challah bread he had made that morning.

Ben Nadis Distributes Challah at the Art & Soul Event

“It’s so amazing what’s happening this evening,” said Nanci Farber. “The event is really generating a conversation with the women and families of children with specila needs from the local community. The artists and inspired individuals who will be working in this space have been given such a unique opportunity tonight. To be able to share what they love in a setting where they know they are appreciated. The event really embraces what Farber Soul Center is and will become.”

The Farber Soul Center has transformed from a need, to an idea and a visual concept, to a board of passionate committee members and donors, the Farber family donated a matching gift of 2.1 million, who put together the first steps to funding the center.

“We are off to a fantastic start,” Nanci Farber began, as the women gathered in the future community hall space. “And I just want to say how inspired I am by the committee and by everyone in this room. The commitment and the support that is here tonight is so immaculate and inspiring. I can’t begin to thank you enough for making this idea, this dream, move towards becoming a reality.”

Nanci Farber

As Nanci finished her speech she turned to the wall behind her and with giant strokes, began painting the largest blank canvas in the room. As the paint hit the white empty space a building emerged from beneath the paint, beneath the passion. With each donation, more canvases were painted and revealed and by the end of the evening the Farber Soul Center had become a reality.

How you can get involved

Donate

We need your help to furnish the Farber Soul Center. As a token of our appreciation you can receive some amazing crafts made by artists with special needs. Donate here

Volunteer

Roll up your sleeves and donate your time and your talents. Friendship Circle has always had a strong group of volunteers through the Morrie & Sybil Fenkell Volunteer Club and the Farber Soul Center will be no Different. Tell us if you would like to volunteer here.

Get Involved

If you have an adult child with special needs let us know that you are interested in future programming for your child.

Get Regular Updates

We will provide regular updates about the construction and renovation process. If you would like to receive those updates click here.

Wheels of Hope: Individuals with Special Needs Learn how to ride a Two Wheeler

I Can Bike

Taking off the training wheels and riding a two-wheeler for the first time is one of the most memorable experiences for a child. Unfortunately, too many children with special needs never get the opportunity to experience the independence associated with riding a two-wheeler.

Recently, Friendship Circle partnered with the iCan Bike program to teach 40 children with special needs to ride a two-wheeler over the course of one week.  Using adaptive bikes and one on one attention, most of the participants were able to ride a two wheeler in less than a week.

Featured on WDIV: Wheels of Hope

Pictures from I Can Bike Camp

The Friendship Bakery Opens Doors for Young Adults with Special Needs

bakery

In 1994 Friendship Circle began bringing friendship to children with special needs. Almost 20 years later, these children have grown into mature young adults.  As they continue to grow, Friendship Circle has committed to teaching and supporting them.  This realization has inspired the Friendship Bakery, a program for young adults to learn skills that will enable them to qualify for a job in the food service industry.

Friendship Bakery Video

Learning New Skills

Each week, the group meets at a professional kitchen and bakes delicious challah! The bakers are acquiring skills such as measuring, rolling, braiding, kitchen safety and cleanliness, and basic business management.

At the beginning of the session, bakers are challenged with kitchen skills such as putting on gloves and tying aprons, learning to identify measurements and ingredients, accurately measuring and pouring, and asking for assistance. By the time the session ends, bakers have learned all these skills and much more, and are proud of their new accomplishments.

Young adults who enroll in the program will have the opportunity to work in different areas of the business, depending on their interests and talents. Sample positions include managing online orders and sales, waiting on customers, managing inventory, and of course baking.

The Results: Great Tasting Challah

The Bakery has been met with instant popularity! The challah is beautiful and delicious, and has been met with high demand, keeping the bakers on their toes. The bakers have even received special orders such as wedding challahs and Bat Mitzvah dinner rolls. It is a welcomed challenge, and there is such camaraderie as the bakers work together. The Friendship Bakery has worked its way up to producing 50 fresh, warm challahs each week!

The program coordinator, Rivki Mann, said that the “bittersweet goal of the program is that our employees-in-training outgrow the Bakery and find stable jobs of their own. We will assist them in their job search and placement, and continue to provide support as they grow into the next stage of their lives.”

Order Your Challah Today

Challahs are sold on Fridays in the lobby of Friendship Circle. They are $5 each.

To request a special order or for more information about the Friendship Bakery, contact Rivki Mann at 248-730-1055 or [email protected]

Friendship Bakery Photos

400 Friends, Family and Supporters Attend an Evening of Recognition

wholefoods-dime

Over 400 people attended a special evening dedicated to the 800 volunteers of the Morrie & Sybil Fenkell Volunteer Club. The event was held in the Berman Center for the Performing Arts at the Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit.

The event honored the dedication of our teen and adult volunteers who gave up their personal time to befriend a child with special needs and participate in one of 30 Friendship Circle programs.

Pictures

The Event

The evening was emceed by Friendship Circle President Hannah Fine. Volunteer coordinator Rabbi Yarden Blumstein led off the evening with an invocation. Laura Athens, mother of a Friendship Circle participant spoke about how much her child benefited from his volunteers and the programs offered to him. Andrew Ackner, a former participant and volunteer of Friendship Circle spoke about his own growing pains and challenges and how Friendship Circle helped him to gain critical social skills which in turn helped him become a volunteer and live an independent life.

Director Bassie Shemtov then recapped the amount of hours that volunteers spent volunteering at Friendship Circle. To visually demonstrate the amount of hours spent, volunteer presidents filled a giant tube with gumballs. Each gumball represented 10 hours of volunteering. Over 3,200 gumballs were poured into the tube representing the 32,000 hours of volunteering during the 2012-2013 school year!

Entertainment

Award winning and 3rd generation magician Dennis Watkins stunned the crowd with some amazing magic tricks. With the help of the audience Dennis put himself inside of a balloon, pulled off an amazing trick with numbers, put dollar bills back together and much more (check out the pictures above to see Dennis in action).

A Special Surprise

Liliya Bromberg is an incredible young woman who has lived with cerebral palsy for 22 years. Back in 1997, she joined the Friendship Circle when she was 7 years old. For the past year, Liliya has been battling a rare form of cancer. Although she was not feeling well Liliya made a special effort to attend the event and personally thank her volunteers for the support they provided during the time she has been in the hospital and at home.

The Culmination

The evening ended with a video highlighting a pilot program called the Friendship Bakery. The mission of the bakery is to teach vocational skills to young adults with special needs. Friendship Circle has started a Challah Bakery where these individuals prepare the dough, braid the challah and bake them. After the event samples of challah were available to taste.

Thank You

Thank you to our 800 special volunteers who make such a difference in the lives of individuals with special needs. Have a great summer and we hope to see you next year!

Liliya's Disney Day

Friendship Circle Brings Disney Experience to a Girl in Need

Liliya's Disney DayLiliya Bromberg is an incredible young woman who has lived with cerebral palsy for 22 years. Back in 1997, she joined the Friendship Circle when she was 7 years old.

Liliya has grown up alongside the Friendship Circle and served as the inspiration for much of their work in the special needs community.

For the past year, Liliya has been battling a rare form of cancer. Throughout this battle, she has remained positive but like all of us, needs help from her friends along the way.

At Friendship Circle’s Golf for Friendship outing on Monday, May 13th, a supporter of Friendship Circle generously donated an all-expense paid trip to Disney World; a dream trip for Liliya. After consulting with her doctors, they learned that she was too weak to travel and therefore, would be unable to go to Disney.

That same supporter came up with an idea to bring Disney to Liliya. So on Wednesday, May 29th, that is just what they did in Oak Park, behind the Jewish Community Center.

The day began with “Cinderella” waking Liliya up with a song in her apartment in Oak Park. Throughout the day she was overwhelmed with visitors and surprises. Amongst other things she had a ride in a horse and carriage, several musical performances, magic show, skateboard and bike show, a visit from a friend from NY, an acrobat performance and many visiting friends at a tent set up for her in a park behind the Jewish Community Center.

Check out all of the pictures in the slideshow below.

Golf For Friendship Photo Highlights

highlights

On Monday May 13, Friendship Circle hosted its 1st annual Golf for Friendship at Tam O’Shanter Country Club.

Presented by Belfor Property Restoration, Golf For Friendship was a wonderful opportunity for supporters and their friends to come together and support of Friendship Circle.

After their relaxing day on the course, golfers were treated to a delicious cocktail hour and auction. In total, the event raised about $50,000 for Friendship Circle’s yearly programs.

Check out some of the fun and excitement:

A special thank you to all of our amazing sponsors:

  • Belfor
  • Varsity Lincoln
  • Epicurean Kosher Catering
  • Plastic Engineering & Technical Services Inc.
  • Wells Fargo Advisers – Weissman, Eppler, Showich Investment Group
  • Experience Marketing
  • Erwin Penland
  • Jaffe, Raitt, Heuer and Weiss
  • Friedman Integrated Real Estate Solutions
  • Channel 4
  • Jay A. Fishman Ltd.
  • Johnson Rosati Schultz & Joppich, P.C.
  • Elliot Baum
  • M. Jacobs and Sons
  • American Cycle and Fitness
  • Greis Jewelers
  • Fringe Salon
  • Barons Wholesale Clothiers
  • Art Van
  • Taylor Made
  • Miller Canfield
  • Silver Chalice

Friendship Circle Partners With Whole Foods For “One Dime At A Time” Program

wholefoods-dime

Support Friendship Circle, Save the Environment.

Whole Foods Market has chosen Friendship Circle as the benefiting charity of their “One Dime at a Time” program. This program provides an incentive to customers to eliminate single-use plastic bags and develop stronger communities all at the same time.

Bring your own reusable shopping bag with you to Whole Foods. At the register customers can present their bag and have the option to receive a 10 cent per bag refund as cash back or they can choose to donate it to Friendship Circle.

All three Oakland county locations (West Bloomfield, Troy and Rochester Hills) will be running the “One Dime at a Time” program from April through June so make sure to grab your reusable shopping bags and head out to your neighborhood Whole Foods Market soon!

Orchard Valley Swim Club Donated To Friendship Circle

Orchard Valley Swim Club

Recently, Friendship Circle was the recipient of a very generous gift — the title to the property, formally known as Orchard Valley Swim Club.  Thanks to the generosity of David Glass and Randy Lesson, the Orchard Valley Swim & Racquet Club will give Friendship Circle the opportunity to further develop it’s programs for individuals with special needs.

While no decision has been made as of yet on the use of the property, discussion are underway on how to restore the property to its former state. If you would like to share some of your memories of the swim club or would would like to be involved in the planning or implementation of the restoration, please contact [email protected]

Swim Club Location