The idea for The Friendship Club came from Mary Collier, the director of a mentoring program in a local school district serving younger disadvantaged children (the PAL program). Mary recognized that the teenage girls who had aged out of the PAL program were coming to her asking for continued guidance and support. In answer to those needs, Mary formed the idea of The Friendship Club and asked Jennifer Litton (Singer) and Amanda Chavez to join her in the summer of 1995. That summer, The Friendship Club served fifteen area girls in a weeklong summer program.
In over twenty years, The Friendship Club has grown to a year-round program that serves between 80-100 girls in 6th-12th grades annually. It is a long-term prevention program designed to meet the needs of growing teenage girls and our comprehensive approach is not only unparalleled in Western Nevada County, it is unique enough to be considered a model for rural communities across the Country.
The Friendship Club is professionally staffed with five full-time and five part-time employees. The full-time Program Director has a teaching credential and Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) degree and she works directly with the girls, develops program curriculum and oversees its implementation, and supervises the Youth Development Assistants. Four of our employees are Friendship Club alumni, who wanted to come back and make a difference in the organization that made a difference in their lives. Three of these alumni returned to our community after earning their Bachelors and Masters degrees.
The work of The Friendship Club is strongly supported by the local community. Most of the funding comes from individuals and businesses in the area. Over 150 community members volunteer to help The Friendship Club accomplish its mission.