A recent column by Josh Linkner in the Detroit Free Press really intrigued me. He notes, “The leaders at the software company Intuit have an internal catchphrase: ‘Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.’ By staying focused on your customers and the challenges they face, you’ll generate a steady stream of innovations rather than betting it all on a one-and-done invention.”
It reminded me of an amazing organization I had the pleasure to visit lately called The Friendship Circle.
According to cofounder Bassie Shemtov, this organization grew from her rabbi husband’s vision to provide “friendship” for recovering addicts. The problem he saw was that these individuals are often alone and missing the companionship of friends.
After he began a program to help those struggling with isolation, addiction and other family-related crises, his wife continued to focus on the problem, wondering who else had the same issues. She came upon special needs children and their families. This vision is now an international organization with nearly 80 locations. The original site in West Bloomfield is a sight to behold!
I found this inspiration on the national website:
“The French author Victor Hugo wrote, ‘Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.’ For children with special needs, that idea began in 1994 – with the first Friendship Circle (in West Bloomfield).
By 2003, the (West Bloomfield) Friendship Circle had evolved from ‘a hands-on activity’ into a thriving organization with 350 teen volunteers spending time with 150 children with special needs.
Like a stone tossed into a pond (or an idea whose time has come), the ripple effect continues growing all the time.”
They remained focused on the problem and discovered there is a need for these same types of connections for the adults these children become. Their solution is currently under construction:
“The Farber Soul Center is a new facility that will expand Friendship Circle’s programs into the lives of adults with special needs through the culinary, digital and traditional arts. Complete with a café, gallery and art studios, young adults will be able to learn crucial vocational skills, harness their creativity and create beautiful pieces of art.”
The Friendship Circle’s major fundraiser, Walk4Friendship, takes place on September 6. Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital is a sponsor, supporter and participant. Please join us in supporting this amazing organization with a passion for solving a problem!