About Friendship Circle

We turn strangers into friends and friends into family

Friendship Circle is a Jewish organization with a unique approach to supporting children and teens 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 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 friendship, and have something to contribute.



Hours of Friendship




We create real and lasting friendships between typically-developing teens and children with special needs. We are committed to sparking dreams, increasing confidence and building a more inclusive community.


We recognize that individuals with special needs have the potential to influence our society and teach us what really matters in life. We know that a true community is one that includes all of its members and we are determined to create that reality.


Friendship Circle is founded on the Jewish belief that each of us has a G-dly soul with a unique mission in this world. We all have inherent value and are worthy of love, respect, and opportunities to connect.



Our focus is on… Friendship! We know that the power of a true friendship is more impactful than the best educators, therapists, and doctors. Friends are not a luxury, they’re an absolute necessity.


Rabbi Bentzion Groner

Rabbi Bentzion Groner


You don’t get more passionate than this guy. He’s got BIG ideas and he 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 FUNraiser and Executive Director.

Rochel Groner

Rochel Groner

Pursuer of Excellence

Whatever she’s up to, Rochel does her best to ensure that each Friendship Circle experience is as amazing as our Friends. Rochel oversees programming and is Director of Friendship Circle.

Sue Schreiber

Sue Schreiber

Chief Friend Introducer

A listening ear, a loving heart, a little biased about her adorable grandkids. Meet Ms. Sue. She loves nature and hiking and she’s lots of fun to hang out with.  

Ms. Sue has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Teaching and has worked as a Child Development Specialist for differently-abled children ranging from preschool – 8th grade.

Shevy Rabin

Shevy Rabin

Coordinator of Fun

Everyone likes to have fun, but that’s actually Ms. Shevy’s job! She’s in charge of making sure all our Friends have a great time when they come together at Friendship Circle. 

Growing up in South Africa, Shevy was active in Friendship Circle in Johannesburg where she loved making friends, and of course, having fun! 

Fun Fact: Ms. Shevy loves all kinds of music.

Katlyn Hicks

Katlyn Hicks

Friends Together Advisor


Ellen Engelhardt, Chair
Tonya Jesso
David Lieberman
Amy Marx
Eddie Perez

Stacey Selkin
Randy Sperling
Patricia Stern
Michelle Yoder