Students form new friendships as Friend-to-Friend club kicks off
As Mark admired his creation on the bright orange pumpkin, a wide smile spread across his face. Using colorful paints, he and his friends utilized their artistic abilities to make their pumpkins come alive during the year’s first Friend to Friend event. Established last school year by Nick Henninger, class of ’12, the Friend to Friend Club is centered on helping adults with special needs and being a friend to them.
Mark, along with the other 9 members of Gallagher Services, entered the Brown Room for the night’s festivities at 6:00 p.m. on Sept. 21, where 27 JC students volunteered their time for service hours. Many of the friends were incapable of speaking, but those that were not silent filled the room with energy as soon as they walked in, ready to talk to anybody that would listen.
At the beginning of the first event, after smiling for a group picture, the students and friends were introduced and the activities began. “My favorite part of the night was painting pumpkins with them,” freshman Nicolette Ficca said. “Each of them are so unique. They all have their own personalities and had a lot of fun. I can’t wait for the next event.”
Pizza and soft drinks were provided for each student and friend. Once the fun inside was completed, it was time to head out to the football field where the students and friends watched a JC football game together. All of the friends showed their enthusiasm for the team with their cheers or claps before they finally said their goodbyes at halftime.
“Their responses and excitement and how most of them couldn’t go the whole entire evening without smiling was really surprising to me,” junior Mitchell Russell said. “I look forward to the meeting them again in the future so I can get to know them better.”
Senior Ashley Beyer took over the club’s presidency this year and has multiple events planned with the help of social studies teacher Jacob Hollin. Beyer is hoping to do a different activity with the Gallagher Services friends every month, such as Trick or Treat on Oct. 29 and watching the school play the first week of November.
Beyer hopes the club will be a huge success this year. According to her, “the goals are to create real friendships and to help break barriers. Many people can be hesitant around individuals with mental or physical disabilities, so I want this group to help end that hesitance. I was thrilled at how many students came and how well the event went in general. Everything ran smoothly and, with the amount of students there, all of the individuals got a lot of attention.”
Lauren Fabiszak is an In-depth Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.