2009 Woman of the Year - Education
Toba Grossbaum – The Friendship Circle
Nominated By: Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum
As co-founder and director of the Friendship Circle in Livingston, Toba is changing the way people relate to individuals with disabilities. Together with the organization’s founders in Michigan, Toba has been involved in the expansion of The Friendship Circle to six locations in New Jersey and 85 around the world.
Toba has created a full array of programs and services that provide children and teenagers with special needs and their families with many of the social and recreational opportunities that are available to the general community, helping to develop confidence and self-esteem and to ultimately lead a productive, normal lifestyle. The children and families benefit from home visits, camps, athletic opportunities and more.
The Friendship Circle’s innovative programming promotes a greater awareness and understanding of both the unique needs and the unique gifts of people with special needs, and encourages respect and empathy for those facing difficult challenges.
The Friendship Circle currently offers over 30 different programs and services and 185 events throughout the year. Over 850 trained teenage volunteers/mentors are paired with more than 285 families and provide more than 35,000 friendship hours annually.