Interview with Levi Stein, Executive Director
Friendship Circle of Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization based in Fox Point, Wisconsin that provides children and adults with disabilities opportunities of friendship and inclusion within the community.
Executive Director, Levi Stein describes how they do this through a variety of programming. Stein says, “For kids we have ‘Friends at Home,’ where teen volunteers visit the homes of kids with special needs or kids with disabilities to just be their friend and visit. We also have Inclusion Club which is where we bring kids with disabilities and neurotypical kids together once a month for a fun activity to break that stigma of hanging out together and really having good time.”
Friendship Circle also provides social and recreational programming for adults two to three times a week as well as a coffee shop, bakery, and an art studio to house their employment training program for adults with disabilities. “The big event of the year is what we call One Thing I Wish You Knew, which is like a TED talk style mental health event,” Stein added. With all these programs and events, around 1,500 people a year are served, and that’s before counting the people who visit the cafe and bakery.
With the help of a grant from Wispact, Friendship Circle was able to launch the first issue of a quarterly publication called The Circle. Stein stated that “One of the big barriers and challenges that the families of people with disabilities face is understanding what’s out there to help them through their journey. There’s a lot of resources out there and sometimes it could be overwhelming.” The latest version of The Circle can be found at fcwi.org/circle.
Stein illustrated how with the help of the grant, they can support their community with The Circle by stating, “They really helped get this project off the ground, and it’s a resource that even though we may feature something at Friendship Circle, it’s really not about Friendship Circle. It’s about what’s out there. We’re sharing the community resources that are out there in a way that is very easy to read and one that you could learn in depth about to decide if it’s a resource that you want to take advantage of.”
There are several ways to help with Friendship Circle for anyone interested, as Stein shares by saying, “Number one is, if you would like to receive The Circle magazine, to please let us know by going to our website and clicking ‘Contact Us’ to subscribe for the magazine. Number two is, if anyone has an adult 18 years and up that would like to join our employment training program please let us know. Or if you need a cup of coffee, we have a cafe that’s open every day besides Saturday; come on by.” You can access their website at fcwi.org.