How It Works
Friendship Network for those Lonely in NY & Northern NJ
Here at Friendship Network, we know that many of you need encouragement and support to break the cycle of loneliness and begin meeting people. Our staff provides members with much more than just an introduction.
When a suitable member is found for an introduction, a letter is sent to each member with their name and telephone number only. Either member may then call the other. Keep in mind, the Friendship Network's focus is FRIENDSHIP. Assuming the telephone conversation has gone well, the members will arrange a mutually convenient public place to meet. After the initial meeting, and throughout the socialization process, both members will review the introduction with the Friendship Network staff. These follow up phone calls are necessary to ensure a positive encounter for both members and to get the necessary feedback to facilitate future introductions.
Initially, many members are unable to leave their homes without trepidation, feeling awkward and shy when meeting new people. As members become more socially active, they are excited by participating in all the activities and in the level of camaraderie they share with other members. Most important is that members develop long term friendships and no longer feel isolated as they had prior to joining Friendship Network.
On a monthly basis, a Certified Social Worker meets with a group of members to discuss socialization issues and topics of general interest to the group. At these meetings, difficult social situations are discussed and role-playing is utilized to develop and practice new skills. In addition, there is a monthly "Schmooze" group, led by the Director of Friendship Network. This group provides a relaxed atmosphere to practice conversational skills while discussing everyday life situations. Some weeks the socialization experience involves the group participating in a Game Night. After each group meeting members go to a local restaurant to continue their conversation and enjoy a snack together. It is important to note that FN groups are not therapy groups and do not allow discussion of diagnosis, treatment or medication.
In addition, group activities are planned, often during the weekend, such as bowling, miniature golf, tennis lessons and a wide variety of sports and cultural events. Members learn to participate in and take advantage of the many exciting venues that New York has to offer. We regularly attend events at Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, Mets and Yankees games, Broadway shows and many other cultural events throughout the city. This is one of the highlights of FN's accomplishments, for those fearful of leaving their house at one time, can now look forward not only to meeting friends on a one-on-one basis, but in groups as well.
Periodically, the Friendship Network has a special event, such as a Valentine's Day Dinner or weekend Pizza Party. Friendship Network began what is now an annual event, organizing a New Year's Eve Party at a local bowling alley. Members are excited to welcome in the New Year together, enjoying the experience of having a party to attend as others do.
Crowning all the Friendship Network activities is the annual summer barbecue held at a local city park and attended by 60 or more members. Members buy the food, set up the grilling and organize games and music. It is so exciting to see everyone working together to make this event a success.
Each month Friendship Network publishes a calendar and newsletter, Network News, informing members of past, present and future activities, news members wish to share, articles they have written about our events and important information to keep them up to date on community services. In addition, member volunteers oversee the monthly mailing and research free or low cost activities members can participate in when going out alone or with others.
During the past years, members have volunteered at the NAMI Queens/Nassau and Friendship Network office, helping with mailings, phone calls and other clerical tasks. As members are given the opportunity to learn and practice these skills, they are better equipped to function independently, overcome their fear of competing in the workplace, and learn to cope with the stresses of everyday life.