Social Circle is a circle of support for people who desire to make friends and build relationships. The group was formed in September 2007 by people we provide supports through our programs, and their staff. They had been requesting to do fun activities and spend time with their friends and staff outside of their scheduled “program hours”.
Whole Life, and other agencies that provide similar services, often have problems in supporting the people we serve in moving forward to achieve their desired dreams and outcomes. People will tell us they want a job, or a 1:1 staff person with whom they may go into community. Then once this occurs, they will begin to miss their friends. They may have mostly, or even only, spent time with the people around them during “day program.” The day program becomes their source of socialization. The other people in the day program and the staff become their friends. This is especially true when they do not get out much in their home life. This leads to them requesting to return full time to the day program, and quitting or subconsciously sabotaging their employment.
Aside from the folks who initially requested this opportunity, others have been invited to participate, or come forward and asked to participate. It seems to grow naturally by word of mouth. I am passing along some information at this time so everyone would have the chance to participate now that I see those involved have not lost interest. Below is a purposefully informal MISSION/VISION STATEMENT.
Social Circle is a group of people who desire to build friendships outside of the day program environment. The activities are chosen by the group democratically. These activities include parties, making crafts, movies, bowling, and just going to eat or for ice cream. People involved desire everyday life experiences that are age appropriate. This means that if the circle agrees to see an “R” rated movie, or go to a restaurant that has a bar, staff will provide support. People don’t have to participate in all activities. Just as with any group of friends, some people may choose to stay home if they do not like what has been chosen, or if their family/guardian does not support the plan for that night. It is hoped that people will not discontinue coming because they or their family did not like a particular activity.
Social Circle recycles pop cans, and has had fundraisers to attain money for their activities. There are times when folks need to bring their own money as well. We try to provide transportation to those who need it, but there may be times we are not able. In these cases we encourage linking up like any other friends would do. Ultimately, the desired outcome is for people to build relationships that will meet their need for socialization, so that paid staff support will no longer be required. Folks may make friends, talk on the phone, and make plans to hang out so they will not have to rely on their day programs to meet these needs. This will increase their potential to have jobs, and live an everyday life rich in community involvement.