Colin Baker, Norwalk
Circle of Friends Evening of Recognition
22, April 2018
Hi, I’m Colin Baker, and for the last 6 years I have had the honor to be a Circle of Friends volunteer.
It seems to me, that I was destined to be involved with Circle of Friends. My older sister was also a volunteer and my house is a two minute walk from Freida’s. My High school, Norwalk High, shares a property line with Temple Beth Israel. I stand here today with massive insight into what it takes to be a friend, and more importantly, what it means to have one. I am graduating this spring, and will be attending college. Over the last few months, I have come to the unfortunate realization that my time with Circle is coming to an end. I can stand here today and say that I am profoundly grateful for the people, experiences, and opportunities Circle of Friends has exposed me to. My time with this organization has truly shown me that you never know where you’re going to make your next friend.
I became involved with Circle of Friends to fill the mitzvah requirement for my Bar Mitzvah. I remember walking into my first Sunday Circle Teen Scene excited and a little nervous too. Over the course two hours packed with arts and crafts, baking, sports, and music, I came to a realization: being a volunteer at Circle of Friends was hard work. I was paired with a boy named Josh. Over the two hours, I found myself assisting Josh with tasks I waltzed through in my own life. Josh needed assistance with actions I found simple, such as walking, drinking, and washing his hands. At the end of the session, Josh gave me a huge smile and waved goodbye. It was at this moment that I came to another realization: Circle of Friends is extremely rewarding. I find no greater joy than playing catch with my friend Eli, talking to my friend Lauren about her family, or making music with my friend Steffe. Building a meaningful relationship with someone who truly needs a friend is an indescribable feeling. Although my time with Circle of Friends is coming to a close, I know that the lessons I have learned will stay with me for the rest of my life.
My experiences with Circle have made me privy to the myriad of people who are in desperate need of a friend. After overhearing a peer named Ryan in my english class with aspergers mention that “being laughed at doesn’t matter because I don’t have any friends,” I decided to sit with him at lunch the next day. Little did I know that we both shared an affinity for politics and he actually needed a co-star on a podcast he was creating. We have our first segment coming out tomorrow and are looking to continue recording for the remainder of the school year. I would’ve never ever exposed myself to Ryan if I had not volunteered at Circle. I am proud to say that I have made a new friend.
While I was contemplating my departure from Circle a few months back, I began thinking of ways I could give back to the organization that has impacted me in such a positive way. Luckily for me, a blessing fell into my lap. I was asked to run my school’s annual dodgeball tournament fundraiser. For those of you who don’t know, over the last 9 years, the Norwalk High School dodgeball tournament has managed to raise over $50,000 for various charities. As this year’s chairman, I was able to select a charity I was passionate about, and it was a no-brainer for me to choose Circle of Friends. As a school, on March 14, we were able to raise almost $4,000 for the “Crumb Together Bakery.”
Over the last 6 years, I have grown immeasurably due to lessons I have learned through Circle of Friends. I have come to appreciate the small blessings in my life and learned not to take things for granted. I now understand the importance of inclusion and making sure every person, with no exceptions, has a friend. I am positive that I would not even be half the man I am today if I had never joined Circle of Friends. Thank you.