Jane Acierno’s Summer Service with the Friendship Circle

“Letting your life speak” means that actions are the best measure of you as a person. This summer I met children and young adults who let their lives speak.

In August I volunteered at a camp for autistic children called the Friendship Circle . The Friendship Circle is an organization that helps special needs children interact with volunteers through music, psychical activity, art, and more. We took two trips in the four day period to the Intrepid and a playroom called Funtasia. For most of these kids, life consists of twelve month programs with only a week or two of break. That is why the Friendship Circle is so important: it helps children who otherwise have very little time to play a chance to have fun.

I worked with a non-verbal 13-year-old named Willem. Willem has a hard time functioning on his own, so his caretaker worked with me at the camp. Together, with another girl named Julia, we helped Willem go around to all the camp activities. At first I questioned my work: since I had never worked with a child so far on the autism spectrum I wondered if anything I was doing was affecting him. However, by the third day he was able to recognize me, and by the final day he was giving me kisses and hugs to show his affection. Although he could not say that he appreciated me, I knew I was impacting his life for the better.

I have been volunteering at the Friendship Circle for over a year now, and I know many of the counselors there. Those who spend part of their summer doing service show that they are compassionate people. They “let their lives speak” for them in that they do not need these children to tell them that they are doing a good job, they just know that what they are doing is helping others. The children “let their lives speak” in that they never intend to harm anyone. Their smiles, hugs, and kisses speak for themselves.

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