A Message from our Executive Director

We have some exciting news for you. We are growing and we are moving to a NEW location! Although our move is due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control and change is never easy, “every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision, and change” and it is with that spirit that we announce our move to 200 Litton Drive in Grass Valley at the end of this month.

As a grass roots organization, The Friendship Club and the girls we support have had the benefit of close relationships, community partnerships, and generous community support. The Friendship Club girls have thrived for over 23 years because of your generosity.

You can help make this important transition a smooth one! While we were the recipients of a relocation grant, we ask for your consideration today to help us close the gap. Our move necessitated cancelling our spring fundraiser, The Power of the Purse. This event typically raises $30,000 in the form of monthly donations. Please help us reach our goal!

With nearly 2,000 additional square feet of indoor space and a huge outdoor space, our expansion will include a larger garden, a BBQ, picnic and grassy area for summer activities. We will also embark on a commercial kitchen build – an essential asset as we provide nearly 5,000 meals to our girls every year.

You are no stranger to our girls and the challenges they face. You have encouraged them to persevere in the face of adversity. You give them HOPE, the number one determinant of success.

I feel like I grew up in our current location and it is hard to imagine a new Friendship Club space but I know it will be bigger and better and eventually I will call it home too. It’s the people I love that make this the best place to be!      ~ Friendship Club girl

We hope you will take advantage of upcoming opportunities to tour the new location and learn firsthand how your donations make a difference in the lives of girls at risk in our community. We promise you will be inspired.

With gratitude,

Jennifer Singer                                                                                Lauren Stowe

Executive Director                                                                         Board President

Save the Date!

Mark your calendars for our upcoming events!

A Message from our Development Associate

Relationships, “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected”. At The Friendship Club we have the unique opportunity to form many different relationships. We have relationships with our girls, our staff, our volunteers, our board members, our donors and our community. That’s a pretty big circle of friendships.

My name is Tiffany Scudero and I have had the pleasure of working at The Friendship since June 2016. For about the first year of me working here I was a Youth Development Assistant and got to work one on one with our girls. That work was such a joy and a wonderful opportunity. My favorite part about the relationships I had the opportunity to build, was the feeling of making a difference (even if it was just listening). However, this past summer I switched gears and am now the Development Associate.

As the Development Associate my circle is different and I’m learning so many new things. Instead of working with girls, I have the chance to build relationships with donors, volunteers and our community. It’s a fascinating new world. I have been blessed with the opportunity to go to the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy next week to learn about Principles and Techniques of Fundraising!

I am so eager to learn about fund development, because without it there would be no Friendship Club. However, it isn’t just fundraising that I’m excited to learn about; it’s also the relationships that you build before you ask someone to support the organization financially. Anyone can ask someone for money, but I want people to feel connected to our cause and feel like they to are making a difference in the lives of the young ladies we serve. I want to learn the ins and outs of what makes a good development officer. I want to learn how to build relationships that are lasting and mutual. I am so enthusiastic about this next chapter with The Friendship Club!

I am grateful to be apart of such a wonderful team and look forward to my future here.

Developing Leaders

Research relating to youth development and youth leadership supports the idea that the development of any person is shaped by their decisions and interactions rather than something that just happens to them. By providing a space where participants can seek supportive relationships and safely experiment with decision making, youth development programs, such as The Friendship Club, are building the agency of its participants. Actively involving participants in their environment, seeking their input, and providing choice all build the agency of the youth participants.

One of the ways in which we help our girls develop their sense of agency is through the Leadership Council, which is comprised of girls in grades 7-12. Girls participating in this group meet monthly in addition to their normal meeting. They are selected to participate in leadership based on their participation, demonstrated leadership skills, and leadership potential. Leadership Council explores various topics involved with leadership and being a role model, with an additional focus on community service. On average, girls in leadership participate in approximately 60 hours of community service per year through various community organizations.

As part of the Leadership Council experience, each year girls organize and host a spaghetti dinner and dessert auction. All the details, from the date and time, to the ticket sales and advertising, to the cooking and serving, are planning and executed by the girls. Over the course of their year, they learn to brainstorm, problem solve, create, time manage, and teamwork.

Our 6th Annual Spaghetti Dinner and Dessert Auction will be held on Saturday, April 7, from 5:30pm to 8:00pm at the Grass Valley Veteran’s Hall.  If you are interested in donating a pie or cake for the dessert auction, please contact Denise Tambasco, Program Director for the details. We hope to see you there!



RESTART the New Year

By now, we are well underway with our 2018 New Years goals/resolutions.  Have you been able to keep your goal(s) front and center? Was one of those goals to be healthier in 2018? Give back to the community? If so, we have great news! You can do both! Local certified nutritionist, Tiana Rockwell, from Wholesome Beet Nutrition, has partnered with The Friendship Club to offer The RESTART® Program. All proceeds from this program will go directly to the Friendship Club. This program is a simple, powerful way to give your body a vacation from sugar and processed foods. With a 3-week sugar detox built right in, the program focuses on how to use REAL FOOD to boost your energy, reduce inflammation and get rid of sugar and carb cravings. The group is limited to 10 participants so everyone can get the support they need to have success. The group meets weekly for 1 1/2 hours to discuss things like: how to optimize digestion; the importance of proper blood sugar regulation; the truth about fats, which ones you should be eating and which ones you should be avoiding; and tools to help you discover your own personal diet that will help you be your best. Tiana was trained at the Nutritional Therapy Association where the curriculum is based around using a nutrient dense whole food diet to help heal the body. Tiana believes that everyone is unique in their nutritional needs and the RESTART® program can help you figure out what those needs are.  This program is part nutritional education, part sugar detox, and part support group which makes for a very powerful combination. Melanie S. says: “I was surprised at how much sugar I was eating, and how it was negatively affecting my body. RESTART® completely changed the way I look at food and how I feel about my body. I highly recommend this program!”  During the program, participants get many ideas for new and tasty recipes to use while on the detox. Ann L. says “I was surprised by how tasty meals can be with the list of allowable foods and how easy it was to find a routine that worked, tasted good and gave me energy.” If you have been looking for a program to be a part of that will support your health goals in 2018, while giving back to the Friendship Club, look no further. The program will meet Wednesdays from 12-1:30pm for 5 weeks in a row, starting on February 7, 2018. Classes will be held at the Wholesome Beet (204 West Main Street, Suite 115, Grass Valley) and the total investment is $189. You can get more information and reserve your seat in the program by visiting www.TriRealFood.com or calling (530) 802-2268. Class space is limited and will fill up fast. Sign up now and discover how good you can feel!

A Message from our Executive Director

Our Holiday Reception on December 4th brought together our donors and volunteers, board, staff and girls to celebrate 2017 and the impact Friendship Club has had on all of us. While our formal mission is to engage, educate, and empower girls at risk, I can tell you that the impact we have had on everyone involved in The Friendship Club is inspiring.   There is just something so genuine about the spirit of family and community that The Friendship Club has created, it truly is my favorite event of the year. At the reception we honored some very special individuals who have made important and lasting contributions to The Friendship Club. First, we honored Dr. Sean Rockwell and wife Tiana and their incredible team at the Dental Wellness Center for their generous and continuous support of our girls and their dental health. Their generosity, averaging $20,000 in dental services annually has absolutely made the difference for many of our girls. Some of them had never seen a dentist before they walked in the door at the Dental Wellness Center. Still others, facing anxiety were calmed by their Rockwell’s sweet dog who has since passed. In honor of the Rockwells and their late dog, Alex we say thank you for their support, attention to our local girls and theirgenerosity. Next, we thanked outgoing President Marty Lombardi. I met Marty about four years ago and he has been involved with The Friendship Club ever since. For those of you who know Marty, you know how important this community is to him. Since moving here from Ukiah he has immersed himself as a servant leader. He has shown great leadership as our board President over the last two years. Marty’s passion lies in helping children succeed and whether it is girls at The Friendship Club or students at Nevada Union, Marty can always be counted on to show up, support and be a role model for generosity. We also honored Associate Director, Dena Valin for nearly five years of service to The Friendship Club. Six years ago, I was faced with a personal reality that made me re-think the leadership needs at The Friendship Club. There is something about having some distance from your work that suddenly things become quite clear. Especially when you are on maternity leave with twins. I knew that for The Friendship Club to continue to thrive that I needed help. And I knew just the person I needed. Almost five years ago, Dena Valin Malakian joined The Friendship Club as our Associate Director (although at the time, she was still Dena Valin, but that’s another story!)  She brought program management, evaluation, and leadership experience that we needed and I can say that since that time the organization has only grown stronger. Dena also brings a dedication and love for our girls that inspires me. She has served as a great emotional support to our staff, our girls and their families, and to me. I am grateful every day to have her on this journey with me and I thank you Dena for your commitment to our girls. Seven years ago, we welcomed our first graduate, Jessica Reiter back as an administrative assistant. No matter the challenge Jessica exemplifies grace. Life has not dealt her the easiest of hands, but she continues to inspire me with her steadfastness. I have indeed, watched her grow up, meeting her at the age of ten. It has been an honor to be her boss for the last seven years.

It has been a tremendous 2017 and next year will bring a host of new opportunities, challenges and adventures! Stay tuned for more on our plans for 2018!


Supporting the Community that Supports Us

The Friendship Club strives to make a positive impact on girls in six key areas.  One of these areas is Community Connectedness, which is provided in so many ways: interactions with our volunteers, donors and community members at the Club and our events, visiting places of business in our community to get a behind the scenes look, bringing in presenters with expertise in certain topics, and engaging them in community service.  Over the course of the past year, girls in The Friendship Club have engaged in 41 community service activities, logging an impressive 916 hours. These activities run the gamut from serving monthly dinners for the local veterans and child care at community events, to providing event support to TFC and other organizations (set up, clean up, selling raffle tickets, assisting attendees, etc.) and organizing inventory at a local thrift store benefiting another non- profit.

“Friendship Club really helps me understand why giving community support is a big part of belonging to the community around us.” (11th grade girl)

In order for communities to grow and thrive, people must step up and take leadership roles. Engaging youth in their communities has multiple benefits, one of which is training our younger citizens to be involved in meaningful ways in the community that can affect change. When youth engage in their communities in meaningful ways, they develop problem-solving, event planning, time management, and marketing skills. They learn about other community agencies and non-profits. These experiences involve teamwork, collaboration, and interaction. They are training grounds for goal setting, working with limited resources, and motivating others to help. These experiences are often transformative for youth and teach them how to think critically about the world around them.

Additionally, research indicates that volunteering and community service is good for our health. In a 2008 study, researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science found a link between self-reported levels of good health and happiness and formal volunteer work. Furthermore, a 2013 study by United Health Group says that 76% of people who have volunteered in the past twelve months say that volunteering has made them feel happier, and 94% of people report that it improves their mood. 78% of volunteers say that it has lowered their stress levels.

We often don’t get to witness the long-term impact that The Friendship Club has on the girls. However, staff, volunteers and donors help provide the myriad of opportunities for the girls to connect to something that is bigger than they are, to engage with others that are doing good work, and to look beyond themselves and understand the positive role they can contribute to their communities. It is through these connections that they begin to realize that they can make a difference in the world- which leads to better choices and an overall greater sense of happiness.

“Leadership (i.e., being involved in the community) at the club has shown that, just because I’m a kid does not mean I’m unable to do anything substantial.”  (8th grade girl)

Volunteer of the Year

It is with great honor The Friendship Club recognizes Wendy Thibeault as Volunteer of the Year, 2017. We are grateful to Wendy for her service since 2014, and admire her willingness to try new volunteer opportunites, strengthening her relationship with The Friendship Club staff and girls. Wendy recently shared her thoughts about receiving the award:

“What a surprise to receive the volunteer of the year award at the Holiday Reception on December 4, 2017.  It is an honor to be recognized for my contribution to The Friendship Club program. In reflecting back on the last three and a half years of service I thought of what it means to me to be a part of the organization as a volunteer.

The first thing that comes to mind is the opportunity to be of service to young girls in middle and high school as they learn self-confidence and become empowered to take their rightful place on equal footing in their community and the greater society.  This feeling of being ‘as good as anyone else’ does not come easily to young girls whose family situation can sometimes be marginal in meeting their needs to develop into their best selves.

Seeing the girls interact at The Friendship Club (TFC) facility or at one of many venues for their activities, gives me an opportunity to see the results of the program as they mature, achieve a sense of their uniqueness and demonstrate a self-awareness of their value as a contributor to society.  I am happy to be a small part of the process that connects girls to the program.   I feel a sense of that connection when I see a young woman emerge from the girl I drove from school to TFC.

I continue to be impressed with the professionalism of the staff and the relaxed homey atmosphere of the facility.  Each level of staff and management demonstrates that they appreciate me as an individual and that my needs as a volunteer will be met.  I feel like I am part of TFC extended family.

A great benefit to me has been the personal growth opportunities at TFC. The management offers workshops to the volunteers such as the Deep Listening and Strengths Finder.  They believe that enhancing communication and interpersonal skills of their volunteers comes back as more positive interaction with the girls.  What a win/win situation this is!

I have enjoyed each of the roles I perform: driver for the weekly program and the summer activities, mentor, supper crew clean up, helper at the fund raisers and other community events they sponsor.   I look forward to many years of association with The Friendship Club and want to expand my participation by continued mentoring and becoming an angel to one of the girls.

Earlier this year I set up an automatic monthly donation. The success of this organization is important to me because I want this program to be available to female students in our community. We all benefit over the lifetime of these young women whose lives have been improved through this invaluable enrichment program.”  ~ Wendy Thibeault


A Message from our Executive Director

You are saving lives with every investment you make in The Friendship Club! I don’t mean that figuratively, I literally mean you are saving lives. Let me tell you how:

A national study, called the ACE Study (for Adverse Childhood Experiences) was conducted by Kaiser and the U.S. Center for Disease Control with 17,000 adult participants1.  It found a significant relationship between childhood stress and trauma and adult chronic disease. Some of the ACE indicators include witness to domestic violence, being a victim of abuse or neglect, alcohol and other drug abuse in the home, parental separation/divorce, mental illness in the family, death of a parent, and parent incarceration.

The greater number of adverse experiences a child has, the more likely he or she is to engage in drug/alcohol abuse, suffer from depression, and/or develop chronic diseases like heart, lung, and liver disease. The study also showed that even if the adults with ACEs DID NOT engage in unhealthy behaviors, they were still more likely to suffer from chronic disease due to the effect childhood stress has on the developing brain. ACEs literally change the brain structure and puts children in a constant state of fight or flight stress response. Science also shows that the stress from ACEs impact the part of the brain that regulates impulse control, which contributes to unhealthy behaviors.

Here are some of the findings of this national study:

  • 67% of participants had at least 1 ACE
  • 5% or 1 in 8 participants had 4 or more ACEs
  • The higher the ACE score, the poorer the mental and physical health score. Those with higher ACE scores are 4.5 times more likely to have depression

This is how our Friendship Club girls compare to these studies:

  • While 20% of the 17,000 participants nationwide in the ACE study had three or more adverse childhood experiences, 47% of the girls served by The Friendship Club have been traumatized by at least three adverse childhood experiences.
  • 83% of TFC girls have lost a parent through separation or divorce compared to 23% in ACE study (also worth noting, 1 in 4 TFC girls are being raised by someone other than a parent)
  • 81% of TFC girls have a history of alcohol and/or drug abuse in the family compared to 27% in ACE study
  • 41% of TFC girls have experienced physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse compared to 28% in ACE study
  • 36% of TFC girls have a parent that has been or currently is incarcerated compared to 5% in ACE study
  • 40% of TFC girls have been exposed to domestic violence in the home compared to 13% in ACE study.

These are sobering statistics but there is HOPE and I want you to know how your support plays a role in reversing the effects ACEs have on our girls. While there are real neurological reasons that childhood trauma and a higher ACE score lead people to engage in more risky behaviors and develop chronic diseases when they get older, there are ways to mitigate the health impacts of ACEs.

9 out of 10. In most cases that would be considered a good score on a test, an A! Something to be proud of. However, in this case, it’s not something I am proud of. This score has me reflecting on my childhood and how it has and will impact my health. Not only was my childhood far from perfect, it wasn’t normal. My parents separated before I can even remember them being together (1 point). Living in a fatherless home, there were a lot of men, usually drug addicted and alcoholics in and out of our home (1 point). They were abusive men that would hurt my mom and abuse us kids physically, mentally, and sexually (2 points). There were many times we would go without food, shelter, running water, and power (1 point). On more than one occasion, my mother attempted suicide (1 point). I’ll never forget the night my mom told me she wished she had aborted me when she had the chance (2 points). 9/10! At points in my life I felt hopeless, but at a vital time in my life The Friendship Club became my family and helped me find hope again. 

~Tiffany Scudero, TFC Alumnus, Development Associate

 The most important things families and communities can do is provide supportive relationships to children with ACEs and teach them resilience skills such as stress management and healthy communication. The Friendship Club program provides this very support to our girls and paired with our long-term, comprehensive approach, we are able to provide girls the positive environment they need to thrive and grow into healthy young women. In addition to the exposure to positive life experiences and academic support, we excel in providing girls with supportive relationships between each other, our professional staff, mentors, other volunteers and community members.

We teach girls conflict resolution skills and stress management through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, nutrition and activity in nature.  We also refer families to other support and resources when they are needed. We surround our girls and their families with the support they need to seek help, change family patterns, and educate them about the dangers of ACEs and how they can mitigate for them in the home. Girls report that since joining The Friendship Club they are more likely to think about their future, make and keep friends, and understand what a healthy relationship looks like.  They report that the Club makes them feel safe.

By investing in this intense and critical support program, you are helping us build resilience in our girls and helping us intervene in their lives while there is still time to mitigate the effects of ACEs. YOU are saving their lives.

Because of The Friendship Club and the support of this community I am who I am today. I have ended a vicious cycle. I am college educated. I am giving back to The Friendship Club girls. I am married to a man who would never imagine treating me the way men treated my mother. Most of all, I have a beautiful little boy who will get a 0/10 on this test. That is something I am proud of. ~ Tiffany

During this Holiday season when you are considering your community investments, we hope you will consider how your donation to The Friendship Club produces a ripple effect in our community and changes destructive patterns for generations to come. Investing in our young girls today will keep their future and our community’s future bright. Click here to donate now!

In Friendship,

Jennifer Singer, Executive Director

1 American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 1998, Volume 14, pages 245–258

Reflections of Thanks

Many girls from Friendship Club continue to stay connected to the club, after they
graduate, through our alumni program. During monthly meetings and through a
Facebook group, they gather to offer support, continue to learn skills, and strengthen
friendships. With Thanksgiving just around the corner some of the alumni have shared
reflections of thanks from their time in the club with the hopes of helping our many volunteers
and donors understand the difference it made in their lives:

I’m thankful for Friendship Club because throughout my whole life it has
been the most stable thing I’ve had. I was blessed enough to have been
part of starting the alumni program, because even after graduating the
club, it still allows club to be a part of my life. I still have that sense of
stability. Over 10 years and counting!

I was a victim of bullying at school for many years, causing me to become
shy and reserved. I am thankful that the Friendship Club provided a safe
place for me to socialize, become comfortable with who I am, and make
lasting friendships with both the girls and the wonderful women involved in
the program.

I am thankful for all of my friends I have met through the club, that are
close enough to call family. I am also thankful for all of the love and
support from everyone. I could say so many things!

Honestly I’m thankful for the family I’ve made through the club, my best
friends, who I’ve met at Friendship Club, I’m thankful that if I’m in a deep
hole and I need help getting dug out, I can count on any Friendship Club
person to do what they can to help.

When I felt like I had nowhere to go and when I felt alone, Friendship Club
was there for me. It was my second home and a place that I knew I would
be accepted.

Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for all you do to support our girls!