Reunited! Friendship Circle Volunteers and Participants Reconnect

Friendship Circle family ties transcend time and place, which made Sunday, January 14 all the more meaningful for the volunteers – past and present – and program participants who attended our first ever Volunteer Throwback Experience reunion.

From 5:30-7 p.m., volunteers and participants filled the Meer Family Friendship Center in West Bloomfield, where they enjoyed some friendly competition on the gym’s basketball court, and talked about days gone by, current pursuits and dreams for the future.

Since the Friendship Circle’s inception in 1994, scores and scores of volunteers have donated their time and talents to better the lives of others. But Sunday night’s reunion was a first.

“We recognized that there are a lot of former volunteers who have moved back to the community after college and work as professionals in the community,” says Jamie Reedholm, special projects coordinator. “We thought it would be fun for them to come back to Friendship Circle to see old friends, soak up some of the Friendship Circle magic, and get involved once again.”

Friendship Circle has volunteer opportunities for adults, college students and teens. Click HERE to learn more or become a volunteer.

Throw And Share

In the gym, beloved former volunteer coaches Mike Barnett and Brad Steel kicked off the fun with some warmup stretches before assembling the group in a circle for a throw-and-share exercise to break the ice.

A bright red ball was tossed to each person, who was asked to share his or her name, favorite color and favorite winter activity.

When the ball landed in Sam Morris’ hands, he delighted the crowd by saying, “My favorite winter activity is using the heater.”

The volunteers and participants then broke off into small groups for some one-on-one time before regrouping for a quick game of basketball.

For former volunteer Chaya Rubin, the evening was truly a family affair.

Rubin was among the Friendship Circle’s first volunteers. She brought her children — Moslet, 8, and Malky, 5 – to witness part of their mother’s history and see firsthand how much the Friendship Circle family has grown.

“I’ve kept in touch with Bassie over the years,” she says. And while much has changed since her volunteer days, the spirit of Friendship Circle remains the same.

Bassie Shemtov, Friendship Circle’s director and co-founder, echoed that sentiment.

“It’s amazing,” she says. “Moments like this stir inside what you thought was gone.”
That same vibrant, loving energy and excitement that flowed from these volunteers many years ago filled the center once again Sunday night, Shemtov said.

The evening brought back fond memories for Emily Hersch, who volunteered at Friendship Circle from 2007 to 2013.

It felt good to be back, she says, adding: “I really enjoyed my time here and learning from others and the uniqueness they have to offer.”

As the evening wound down, Coach Brad admitted he was a bit surprised that each participant remembered his name after all these years.

“I was amazed,” says Steel, who volunteered from 2005 to 2011. “I haven’t seen these kids in so long. It’s like zero time has passed.”

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