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Friends@Home Handbook

Q: How does Friends @Home work?


  • A: : Here’s the process:
    The Volunteer Coordinator gives you the name and contact information of the family of the child you will volunteer for, and tells you a little about them.
    The Volunteer Coordinator calls the family and arranges a weekly visit time that is good for both you and the family.
    The Volunteer Coordinator will accompany you the first time you visit your special friend at home. She/he will introduce you to each other and guide you as to what kind of games and activities you can do together.
    After you visit your special friend each week, you “send” a postcard/activity report to us to let us know how it went.

Q: How long must I wait before I can start volunteering at Friends @Home?


  • Once you join the Friends@Home program, and have discussed all the details with the Volunteer Coordinator, it may take time until you are set up at the home of a child. The time it will take depends on availability, scheduling, and personality.

    To ensure your Friends@Home set-up happens as soon as possible:
    Provide a few days of the week that you are able to volunteer;
    Make sure you are able to drive yourself there and back or that you have a ride;
    If you would like to volunteer together with a friend, make sure you have compatible schedules.

Q: Must I be trained before volunteering as part of the Friends@Home Program?


  • A: Although It is not necessary to receive training before you volunteer as part of the Friends@Home program, training programs will be offered throughout the year. The Volunteer Coordinator will tell you all you need to know about your special friend, and, as his or her parents will be available to help you, you can always ask questions or bring up your concerns. Very often, parents will suggest activities and games that their child enjoys and point you in the right direction by explaining their child’s likes and dislikes.

Q: Where can I get ideas for games and activities to do with my special friend?


  • A: Your Volunteer Coordinator will be helping you with ideas from the start! During the year, you will also be able to come up with ideas on your own. 

    Here’s a bunch of suggestions!
    Check out our cool booklet, “101 Things to Do With Your Special Friend”;
    Ask your special friend’s parent for their child’s favorite activities and ideas;
    Surf the Web or ask friends for ideas of activities, recipes, and crafts;
    Bring your favorite games or books from your house;
    Find out your friend’s favorite music, games, authors and pastimes, to give you an idea of what he/she likes to do; or
    Ask your special friend for ideas of what he/she likes to do 
    If you’re still unsure, call your Volunteer Coordinator—he or she will help you!

Q: What if I am late or must cancel a Friends @Home appointment?


  • A: Simple: Don’t be late. And don’t cancel your appointment. Always remember that your visit may very well be the highlight of the week for your special friend. Canceling or arriving late causes your special friend and his or her parents more disappointment and stress than you may realize. Please remain committed and visit your friend consistently.

    In an emergency, when it is necessary to cancel or come late due to matters out of your control, you MUST contact the family and your Volunteer Coordinator PRIOR to your scheduled visiting time! The Friendship Circle expects volunteers to take responsibility in protecting the feelings of their special friends and their families by doing their utmost to remain consistent and reliable in their volunteering. 

Q: How do I keep in touch with the Friendship Circle once I begin volunteering as part of the Friends @Home program?


  • A: Postcards/activity reports are the best way to keep in contact with us once you begin volunteering. These tell us that you are consistent, and allow you to bring up any of your questions or comments.  
    In addition, feel free to call the Volunteer Coordinator at 804-363-5798 at any time to keep them in touch or just to chat.  

Q: Who can I talk to if I have a question or concern regarding my Friends @Home setup?


  • A: If you are uncomfortable with anything about a setup, whether you are having scheduling conflicts or feel uncomfortable in your special friend’s home, do not hesitate to call the Volunteer Coordinator. He or she can help you by rescheduling, giving you tips and guidance on how to deal with your special friend, or point you in the direction of some great resources. The Friendship Circle can also communicate with the family of your special friend to help make your volunteering experience more enjoyable.

Q: What if a Friends @Home setup does not work out?


  • A: Usually, a volunteer and his/her special friend develop a beautiful friendship built on trust and care, but occasionally, a setup may not work out for various reasons. If this is the case, the Volunteer Coordinator will help you communicate with the family of your special friend, and can set you up at the home of another child with special needs or a different Friendship Circle program which may be more successful for you.