400 Friends, Family and Supporters Attend an Evening of Recognition


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.


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!


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!

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