The Friendship Circle's ladies got their hands dirty last week, assisting in demolishing the nonprofit's existing facilities, paving the way for the organization's new 20,000+ square-foot "Friendship Campus."
Friendship Circle is a volunteer-driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to providing friendship and acceptance through dynamic programming and services to people with special needs. The organization's new state-of-the-art building, will set the standard for Friendship Circle across the United States, with completion expected in Spring 2023.
The new campus, will feature an indoor and outdoor setting with a variety of amenities, play areas, and a garden, as well as ample onsite parking. Since 2004, the group has operated out of a 3,000-square-foot facility at 8700 SW 112 St. that has reached capacity and is insufficient to support expanding programming and the growing number of children and families who participate.
Existing programs, such as the Children's Circle, Friends @ Home, Art Circle, Winter/Summer Camp, Equestrian Circle, Life Skills Around Town, Sports Circle, and others, will continue.
“The Friendship Campus will continue the legacy of serving thousands of families in our community with the finest location, providing a deeper sense of belonging and engagement for children and their parents. I’m proud of our collective accomplishments and look forward to its delivery,” said David Evensky, Board Chair of Friendship Circle in Miami.
Tracey Berkowitz, Claudia Potamkin, Michele Kaplan, Stacey Bolduc, and Rossana Arteaga-Gomez, board members and prominent local philanthropists, were joined by the organization's Executive Directors, Rabbi and Nechama Harlig, taking turns demoing the building.
When it is completed, the Friendship Campus will be a community and therapeutic center, a social gathering place, and a hub for its network of families and persons with special needs. An inviting lobby and reception area, engaging activity rooms and lounges, classrooms, multi-purpose rooms, a library, a "snoezelen" sensory room, a music studio, and a life skills center will be among the new building's facilities.
"We are incredibly thankful to all individuals in our community who have contributed to this significant achievement, as we make the new Friendship Campus a reality after more than 25 years in the making," said Rabbi Harlig. "It is truly life-changing to soon introduce a state-of-the-art location that will be a second home to many, many families in South Florida. It would not be possible without our volunteers, members, board of directors, donors and long-time patrons, who share the mutual sentiment of providing a place to 'belong' for all."
The official groundbreaking for the innovative campus on the 2.5-acre property was held in December by Friendship Circle. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Commissioners Raquel Regalado and Danielle Cohen Higgins of Miami-Dade County and Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez, Florida House Representative Vance Aloupis, and Florida State Senator Ileana Garcia spoke about the organization's impact and dedication to the community.
"The Friendship Campus will continue the legacy of serving thousands of families in our community with the finest location, providing a deeper sense of belonging and engagement for children and their parents. I'm proud of our collective accomplishments and look forward to its delivery," added David Evensky, Board Chair of Friendship Circle in Miami.
Photography by: Courtesy Friendship Circle