Fall 2014 Newsletter


Select Circle of Friends
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Circle of Friends
11965 Venice Blvd,
Suite 301
Los Angeles, CA  90066

Barbara Palilis, Founder & Executive Director
BARBMESSAGEMessage From Barbara Palilis

Hello Friends,

It's a new year...and time for us all to evaluate what we will make our priority...and why. If you're reading this newsletter, then I am hopeful that you will join me in choosing to implement the vision and mission of Circle of Friends (CoF) into your daily life and the lives of those with whom you work. In doing so, our dream will become a reality!

With the dawn of the 2014-15 school year upon us, it's time for my annual update...

A Campus Inspired
San Benito HS friends
San Benito High School in Hollister, CA, began Circle of Friends in 2010, and they haven't looked back since.  Under the guidance of Program Facilitator and CoF Advisor Casandra Guerrero, the program is running strong.  So much so that, on May 15, 2014, Mrs. Guerrero received an email that really made her smile:

Hi Casandra,

I just wanted to write you a little note to say that while I do not really know you, you continue to amaze me with all that you do with our students.  I don't interact much with your students specifically, but I have heard of the positive impact you have from many people.  What I have seen, however, is how your program and efforts affect our mainstream students.  They are so positive and happy and motivated to be a part of Circle of Friends, and I believe it has had a massive and undeniable effect on this campus. Thank you for inspiring them and me.

You make this school a better place.

Carissa Felice
Chemistry Teacher
San Benito High School

With all the news of violence and bullying rattling school campuses nationwide, this sure is nice to hear.
Do-Good Date Night
Want to raise money for your school's Circle of Friends chapter (think T-shirts, pizza parties, dances, etc...)?

Or, perhaps you'd like to pay your good fortune forward and support the national organization.

Either way, you may want to try this bright idea from Simi Valley Unified School District in CA.

Three CoF Advisors from Arroyo Elementary joined two local PTA moms in hosting a "parent date night" fundraiser.  On a Friday between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m., this team of five babysat 28 kids, raising $280.  Parents paid only $10 for quality alone time while their kids colored, played games, watched movies and ate dinner in the school cafeteria.

The money Arroyo Elementary raised will pool with other donations to possibly buy program T-shirts or sponsor a field trip to see CoF in action at the middle and high schools that Arroyo feeds into.

"Arroyo would like to be known as a friendly, safe and inclusive school," noted Sandra Lulow, a Speech Language Pathologist and CoF Advisor at the time. 

So gather your neighbors for good times for a good cause!  You can help give students with special needs across the country the positive and welcoming school experience that they deserve.
Feds Warn Schools On Bullying Of Students with Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Education reminds schools in a "Dear Colleague" letter issued on October 21, 2014, that they are required by law to do all in their power to protect students with disabilities from peer bullying.       
A Sibling Shares on Sister with Down Syndrome
In July 2014, Beto Aceves, older brother of Circle of
Beto Aceves
participant Jessica, shared his thoughts on the role that CoF has played in his sister's life.  Jessica, who has Down syndrome, has been participating in the program for 10 years.

Kim (Development Coordinator with CoF): What was school like for Jessica before joining CoF?

Beto: It was tough.  The lack of communication skills at school...not being able to talk to people and getting what she wanted or needs.  And so she'd come home very frustrated, very sad sometimes.  I would hear things from my mom, she just doesn't want to go to school... Once she started [CoF], everything changed.
Jessica Aceves

Kim: Was she ever bullied?

Beto: We just knew she was having a tough time.  We never found out anything from her that there was anyone specific.  She would come home and say (this name)... mean.  She knew how to communicate that.

Kim: Since joining CoF, how have things changed for her?

Beto: Things have been very positive.  Once she started going to the program, hanging out...  Her ability to work well with others as a team really just went through the roof.  And I think that it showed at school; she was able to hang out with kids and communicate with teachers. Her frustration wasn't there.  Little things that, I guess, she wasn't getting at home from us, just from not knowing how to communicate with her, she got them at school through CoF.  So that with her friends, her family at home and teachers, she was able to take all that she learned and just be able to communicate [better].  And she was smiling so much more.  We were so happy when she started; we've been happy ever since.

Finally, when asked if there was one friend in particular that Jessica enjoys spending time with through
CoF, Beto answered, "Overall, she just loves everyone."

Exciting, Joe Mantegna, "inclusion" advocate and star of Criminal Minds and more, will be accepting the Social Impact Award at CoF's 10-year anniversary gala on April 25.  Board member Nancy Holland will be honored with the Founder's Award and volunteer extraordinaire Allie Davis is receiving the Student Leadership Award. More details to come...

San Ramon Valley Unified School District joins the Circle of Friends' family.  Welcome! 

Barbara Palilis is presenting at the 2014 International Bullying Prevention Association Conference on November 17 at the San Diego Sheraton Hotel and Marina.


Would you like Barbara to speak on our model of inclusion at a conference near you?  Email [email protected]  
CoF spread the word on the benefits of our program at the 36th Annual Very Special Arts
CoF Advisor Marsha Salmon and students from Golden Valley H.S., CA 
Festival on October 17 at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles.  Sponsored by Los Angeles Unified School District and Los Angeles County Office of Education, this free event celebrates the creativity of differently-abled individuals.
Mark Your Calendars... 
December 2, 2014, is #GivingTuesday
Watch this video to learn about #GivingTuesday.
How can I help Circle of Friends on this day?
1. Donate online in honor of a loved one who you feel is wonderfully unique...perfect as they are, quirks and all. We'll send them a holiday card with the good news. Let's celebrate the beauty of individuality.
2. Post to your Facebook page the photo that we'll share in support of inclusion.  Add our official Giving Tuesday hashtag, #givetuecof.  Let's spread the word.
Stay tuned for more info about this day on Facebook.
Remember, if you're a current student, alum or administrator/advisor for Circle of Friends, send pictures, stories and updates to [email protected]nds.org to be featured in our newsletter.  Please reply to this email with questions and comments.
You are the best of CoF!
Circle of Friends ~ The Path to Inclusion  
A Project of Community Partners, 501(c)(3), Tax ID # 95-4602067  
11965 Venice Blvd., Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA  90066  
Voice: (310) 312-6600, Fax: (310) 312-6609, www.CircleoFriends.org