About Friendship Circle

We turn strangers into friends and friends into family

Friendship Circle is an organization with a unique approach to supporting children with special needs. Though their peers may enjoy regular play-dates, children with special needs often experience loneliness and isolation because of a lack of appropriate social opportunities. Our innovative programming is designed to fill this void by fostering enduring and meaningful friendships between those with special needs, our “Special Friends”, and typically-developing teens, our “Teen Friends”, in the Greater Charlotte Jewish community.

Our core program pairs local teens and children with special needs for weekly visits; the basis of our genuine friendships. Through a broad range of activities and events, Friendship Circle creates an atmosphere of acceptance, recognizing that all people, regardless of the obstacles and challenges they may experience, are sacred, worthy of love, and have something to contribute.

Last year, with the help of our 35 teen friends, Friendship Circle provided programming and friendship to 25 young people with special needs.



Hours of Friendship




We create real and lasting friendships between typically-developing Jewish teens and children with special needs. We ignite the dreams, increasing the confidence and redefining the worldview of both.


We believe that everyone in this world is here for a unique purpose and no two people are alike. We see individuals with special
needs as having the potential to influence others in a unique way which others cannot. Unwavering honesty, acceptance, positive thinking, and commitment are just a few of the important lessons they teach by example.


Friendship Circle is founded upon the idea that within each person is a soul; and that soul is equal and worthy of boundless love. With this inspiration, the lives of the families we serve are enhanced while the volunteers reap the rewards of selfless giving.


Our focus is on “Abilities.” The best way to reveal everyone’s hidden potential and abilities is through pure friendship and opportunities in a loving environment. Meet Friendship Circle & ZABS Place. We’re here to do just that.


Rabbi Bentzion Groner

Rabbi Bentzion Groner


You don’t get more passionate than this guy; he just can’t get enough of what happens at Friendship Circle. Always with his camera and phone, Bentzion will share just about anything on social media. Be sure to “LIKE” his posts or he might not be your friend anymore! Kidding of course! Bentzion is also our Fundraiser and Executive Director.

Rochel Groner

Rochel Groner


Rochel ensures everything at Friendship Circle is immaculately impeccable. Rochel is also our Family Coordinator and overall Director of Friendship Circle.
Sophie Molinari

Sophie Molinari

Energizer Bunny

There’s no excuse for a dull moment, according to Sophie, she infuses everyone and everything with extreme enthusiasm! Teens rally around her energy and commit to do anything from staying up all night to, ya know, changing people’s lives! Sophie is cultivating her teen squad to overhaul civilization by 2022. In between making Muddy Buddies, Sophie is our Program and Teen Friend Coordinator.


Bonnie Bornstein (co-Chair)
Debbie Dovi
ZJ Gamlin

Eric Lerner
Jon Massachi
Don Mullen
Amy Seitlin (co-Chair)
Patricia Stern