This August marks the three year anniversary of The Friendship Circle’s purchase of the old Gullifty’s building. Renovations were completed in early 2016 and staff began the transition into the new facility in March. The building has been in a “soft opening” throughout the summer and plans to open its doors to the public for a grand opening event on September 11th from 1 PM – 3 PM.
From top to bottom, the new Friendship Circle building boasts a fun-filled, inclusive environment. The facility’s green roof is a favorite spot for many members, serving as a serene outdoor area in the bustling business district of Squirrel Hill. Throughout the summer, The Friendship Circle has begun the process of upgrading this space. A rooftop garden has been added and there are plans to install a small climbing wall sometime in the next year. The roof has a spectacular view of Murray Avenue, but offers spectators a quiet distance from the cars and buses speeding past.
An elevator ride below the roof is the building’s second floor which contains office space, a toddler playroom, and parent lounge area. The office space contains seven cubicles, three offices, and two conference rooms. Despite having its own dedicated area, the office space is not isolated from the rest of the building. One wall is made up of several large windows, which overlook the programming area on the first floor. Even while working at their cubicles, office staff can still feel integrated with the rest of the building.
Adjacent to the office area is the toddler playroom and parent lounge to accommodate the families of Friendship Circle members. Many volunteers and participants have younger siblings, who can play in an age-appropriate space during clubs and activities. Parents can mingle in the lounge, enjoy coffee, and relax. A glass wall allows them to look into the programming area and check-in on their children during activities.
The first floor of the building is where all of the fun happens! Several programs have already been hosted in the great hall, including the 2016 Celebration of Friends. This space can hold large groups and be used for a wide variety of clubs and activities. The great hall flows into our commercial kosher kitchen, which is fully ADA-compliant to accommodate our members of all abilities.
The first floor has other unique features, such as the teen lounge and gallery. The teen lounge was designed with The Friendship Circle’s older members in mind. It features couches, bean bag chairs, a foosball table, Kindles, and other electronics. Teen members can drop-in after school and hang out with their friends in this age-appropriate lounge. The gallery space is multifunctional and viewable from Murray Avenue. So far it has been utilized to display art, host board meetings, and serve desserts at the 2016 Celebration of Friends.
The Friendship Circle’s new home has a place for everyone–regardless of age and ability. The facility embodies The Friendship Circle’s mission of engaging children and young adults with and without special needs in a full range of social activities to create lasting friendships, which consequently strengthen both the Jewish and greater community. The Friendship Circle would like to extend an invitation to community members to join us in celebrating our grand opening on Sunday, September 11th from 1 PM to 3 PM.