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!

Self-Enrichment through Workshops sponsored by The Friendship Club

The core of The Friendship Club mission, to engage, educate and empower girls at risk, is to teach our girls to take good care of themselves. Healthy self care is the foundation for healthy relationships, well-rounded characteristics and quality of life on so many levels. Self care is not a “one time” lesson, it is a constant discipline woven in and out of all life experiences and decisions. An honest admission informs us at times we are better at self-care than at other times. If you find your ability to enrich your life is at an ebb, rather than a flow, workshops sponsored by The Friendship Club may be just what you need.

What began as an offering for ongoing education for Friendship Club mentors has grown into a self-enrichment opportunity for Friendship Club volunteers and friends. Quite simply, as our volunteers and friends take good care of themselves, work to enrich themselves personally, they improve their ability to serve Friendship Club girls and and potentially impact the quality of other interpersonal relationships. I hope you are thinking “Tell Me More”!

In 2017 we introduced two powerful workshops:
“Deep Listening” and “Discover Your Strengths”

Deep Listening Workshop, a 3-part series led by Lyn Gunn-Smith, a local Personal Growth Consultant, and dear friend of The Friendship Club. This is a workshop for those who would like to learn to listen without interrupting, judging or criticizing others. As we learn and practice deep, mindful listening, we become more aware of how our thoughts, feelings and beliefs impact our ability to be present with others. Strive to understand before wanting to be understood….

One attendee responded “Being more mindful gives me the power to acknowledge thoughts and feelings, ‘feel’ them intimately – and to change those, if it seems important.”
~Nancy, workshop attendee & TFC Volunteer

Thursdays, 6/7/18, 6/14/18, and 6/21/18 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at The Friendship Club.

Discover Your Strengths, is a 4-part series led by Jennifer Singer, The Friendship Club Executive Director and Certified Gallup Strength Coach. Your talents, those thoughts, feelings and behaviors that come naturally – are all the source of your true potential and power. The key to personal development is to fully understand how to apply your greatest talents and strengths in everyday life. People who play to their CliftonStrengths are the absolute best version of themselves. Gallup research finds that these folks are more engaged and productive at work and 3 times more likely than others to have an excellent quality of life.

Thursdays, 1/18/18, 1/25/18, 2/22/18, 3/22/18 and 4/26/19 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at The Friendship Club.

And suggested donations for the workshops include all materials and 100% of the donation proceeds benefit The Friendship Club. Please contact Cindy Hintz, Volunteer Manager, for more detail. We sincerely hope you will join us, not only for yourself, but for those whose lives you touch.

“Some strive to make themselves great. Others help others see and find their own greatness. It’s the latter who really enrich the world we live in” ―Rasheed Ogunlaru
Leading life coach, motivational speaker and business/corporate coach

A Message from our Executive Director

The 49er Fun Park was the happening place to be on September 18th for The Friendship 100. Over 300 racers, golfers, and guests packed the park with enthusiasm for the event and for The Friendship Club program. In its 15th year, The Friendship 100 has grown to be the most important fundraiser we have, raising critical funds for our academic year program.  The beauty of this event is the sheer number of supporters it generates. Racers raising funds from their friends and colleagues, golf captains urging friends to participate and donate to an important mission, major donors sponsoring the event, and a volunteer army, allow us to put on a quality, organized, and fun event for our community!

While the event grossed over $90,000, the average donation to the event is $100. THAT is community coming together and making it happen!  Nearly 20% of donations come from outside of the community by way of online fundraising but the majority of funds are raised from our generous local business community and individuals. Everyone can play a role in making it happen for our girls and people committing to doing what they can do is the first step. Not everyone can or will be a major donor. It takes an army of smaller, consistent donors to provide the resources community organizations like The Friendship Club need to accomplish our missions. Thank you for being part of community building and for the generous support you provide The Friendship Club and other local organizations making our community strong.  Please consider joining the more than 100 community members who have committed to being monthly donors to The Friendship Club.  Consistent monthly support is critical to the ongoing stability of The Friendship Club. Monthly Matters!  Call today to get signed up: (530) 265-4311.

In Friendship,

Jenn

Fall Meetings Off to a Great Start! by Denise Tambasco

The start of September welcomed back the girls of The Friendship Club to their weekly meetings. Over the course of the next 12 weeks, girls will explore a variety of topics connected to friendships and bullying, wellness, and nutrition. As part of the curriculum, girls will have an opportunity to learn about basic nutrition, food labels, My Plate, meal planning and budgeting, navigating a grocery store, and take some basic cooking lessons. Girls will also talk about what bullying is, how to recognize it and how to react to it as both a bystander and as a victim.

With such a packed curriculum, Fall Break provides staff with a great opportunity to spend time with girls in smaller groups and allow the girls to bond in cross-age activities. Over the week of break, girls will have the opportunity to participate in 6 different activities, which include: Special FX makeup workshop, baking and cooking, visiting the corn maze in Dixon, roller skating, and Bierwagon’s pumpkin patch and pumpkin carving. Additionally, 10 high school girls will go on an overnight trip to Reno and visit the University of Nevada, Milan Institute of Cosmetology, and Truckee Meadows Community College.

Seeking Friendship Club Drivers by Cindy Hintz

The Friendship Club Academic year is in full swing, as girls have returned to attend their weekly after school meetings. As the Volunteer Manager, I am often asked “What is the greatest volunteer need at The Friendship Club?” Hands down the answer remains: “DRIVERS!”

This 2017-18 school year, the Friendship Club girls in Nevada County will attend an after school program meeting once a week held at our facility in Nevada City, arriving from one of 17 different schools in Nevada County. One third of our enrollment can ride the bus from either Nevada Union or Seven Hills. But the other two thirds, nearly 50 girls rely on catching a ride from a volunteer from her school to The Friendship Club at least once a week. On any given Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, mid-afternoon, our driver volunteers leave their home or work, drive to their designated school, pick up any where from 1 to 8 TFC girls, drive them to New Mohawk Road, and see the girls safely upstairs to our facility. Then they turn around and drive on to errands, back to work or home. The total time commitment averages 15-20 minutes.

It is important to note that families with girls enrolled in The Friendship Club simply do not have the means to transport their girls to after school meetings. We are truly blessed to have many volunteers who return as drivers year after year, and we are so grateful for your committed support. This school year we are looking to add 4-6 new drivers to our volunteer pool.

While this act seems so simple, each driver volunteer contribution of time ensures our program meetings can continue with a potential for 100% attendance. Without a ride, a girl will most certainly be unable to attend her meeting or other important after school activities.

Please consider becoming a Friendship Club driver, even if only once or twice a month. You may contact the Volunteer Manager, Cindy Hintz, at (530) 265-4311 or cindyh@friendshipclub.org to learn more about this critical volunteer role, and how you can come on board as a Friendship Club driver.

Friendship Club Fundraiser at Judi’s

Judi’s of Nevada City will be hosting a special fundraising event for The Friendship Club (TFC) on Saturday, October 7th, from 10am until 6pm. Judi’s is located at 246 Commercial Street, Nevada City.

At this event, Judi’s will be offering a 5% discount on all merchandise (including sale merchandise) while donating a percentage of all sales to The Friendship Club. The doors will open at 10am and complimentary refreshments will be served throughout the day. Staff and board members from The Friendship Club will be on hand throughout the event.

This is the 23rd anniversary of TFC helping at-risk adolescent girls in Nevada County with a year-round program of educational activities, emotional support and community involvement. Jennifer Singer, Executive Director of TFC says, “The Friendship Club is about serving girls at risk but it’s also about building community. Girls in the club receive a lot of support but they also give back to our community and love doing so!” This year TFC welcomed back several alumni as staff members. They are TFC success stories and they are continuing to enrich our community.

The Friendship Club is supported primarily by the generosity of the community and private grants. Singer said “ We are so grateful for Judi and Bob Weiner’s continued support of The Friendship Club. For the past several years, Judi has generously donated proceeds from one day of shopping in her beautiful store. We think it’s a win-win for businesses and organization’s to partner in this way. It’s a fantastic way for TFC to gain exposure, and in addition to Judi’s generous donation, we always get new donors and volunteers who come to know us through Judi’s shopping event.”

Judi Weiner, the proprietor of Judi’s, has long supported the mission of TFC, and views her support as an investment in the future of our community. “I believe The Friendship Club does an outstanding job of empowering their girls and helping them to be the best they can be. Judi’s was born out of a desire to help women have confidence and feel good about themselves, so we are very much aligned with TFC’s mission. Confident women of any age are beautiful!”

Judi’s carries a wide selection of beautifully designed contemporary clothing and accessories including Jag Jeans, French Dressing Jeans, Alembika, Habitat, Cut Loose, Comfy, Latico and Maruca handbags- and a selection of jewelry and accessories created by international designers as well as local artisans.

The Friendship Club Fundraiser is a great way to enhance your wardrobe with Judi’s fabulous fashions, get started on your holiday shopping, and support a very worthwhile local cause – everyone wins!