The Friends Network was founded in 1996 as a strictly volunteer organization that aimed to provide adults with developmental disabilities the chance to enjoy the social and recreational opportunities most of us take for granted. Maureen Henke and Linda Kiss-Gruetzner saw a need in the clients they worked with at an agency providing job placement for adults with disabilities, the need to develop and maintain friendships, to gather socially, and to take part in community events outside of work and family. Beginning with a handful of people meeting for dinner each month, within two years The Friends Network developed into an organization of over 70 members, and one to which Linda and Maureen would devote their energies full time.
Since its inception The Friends Network has added many programs and services and changed locations to accommodate its increasing membership. Our original home was on Route 6 in Brewster, a large meeting room with a very small office and kitchen attached. Friends quickly outgrew this location and moved into a house at 8 Peach Lake Road in Brewster, which after renovation features a large kitchen, spacious living room, computer lab, exercise room, upstairs offices, and plenty of outdoor space for members.
As their client base grew, The Friends Network began to add to its social and recreational offerings, starting a bowling league, a softball team, instituting once a month movie club, book club, dinner club and a seasonal drama club. Linda and Maureen plan and chaperone vacations for the members, who have journeyed to many great destinations. In 2008 Friends opened an adult day-habilitation program, a small, individualized program which teaches essential life skills, facilitates personal interactions, and involves clients in their community through local events, social outings, and volunteer opportunities. The Friends Network continues to attract new members as word spreads of the unique mission of the program. As a non-profit that offers essential and hard to find services to developmentally disabled adults, The Friends Network will continue to grow and thrive with support from its membership, their families, and the surrounding communities.
The mission of The Friends Network as a not-for-profit organization is to maximize opportunities for individual choice, to advance independence, and to develop circles of support through a person-centered approach in the areas of social relationships, recreation, life management skills, community integration, and vocational services for adults with developmental disabilities.
The Friends Book Club
The Book Club offers our adult members an additional social and educational opportunity. Members may choose to read the book or listen to it on CD, and once a month the book club meets to discuss the title. Book club is a forum where participants can interact with peers, share their thoughts on the subject matter being discussed, and obtain positive reinforcement of their ideas, insights, and the value of their opinions. It allows our members to express not only ideas and opinions, but their hopes and fears as well. The confidence and self esteem these adults gain through the power of literacy carries over into their everyday lives and allows them to become more productive, contributing members of their communities.
About our Calendar
The Friends Network offers many social and recreational activities each month. Most activities are held at TFN or locations throughout Westchester and Putnam Counties. Activities include but are not limited to movies, museum trips, dinner, sporting events, bowling league, Broadway shows, dancing and karaoke, NYC day trips, camping and weekend trips, and longer vacations.
Life skills workshops are held periodically throughout the year offering classes in cooking, computers, housing initiatives, special needs trust planning, and more. We provide services to adults with disabilities who are 18 years and older. Adult members need to show positive social behavior, require minimal supervision, and be able to travel independently.
Transportation and Fees
Limited transportation is provided to the day habilitation program. Members are responsible for arranging their own transportation to some local events. Individual Friends Network members often arrange carpools. The Friends Network can provide limited pick-up and drop-off services for some events at a central location, and will hire coach buses for events when needed.
Words cannot express my sincere appreciation for the hard work, time and effort that has gone into developing the program that has so profoundly impacted Chris and our family's life. The Friends Network is not just been about meeting the immediate needs of the developmentally disabled; it is about developing a legacy of competence, good will and family values. My entire family is blessed to be a part of the Friends Network family. TFN Parent
It is immeasurably an understatement to say that there is a SEVERE shortage of people like Maureen and Linda in this world. Stay as sweet as you are TFN member
I am extremely grateful to The Friends Network for making it possible for my daughter to fill other dimensions in her life. The social and educational activities provided by The Friends Network have given my daughter the component that we all wish for in life - a fulfilling life outside of family and work TFN Parent
While there are other organizations offering similar programs, none do it as well at The Friends Network. Having had the opportunity to observe numerous programs it is clear the difference is in the people. From your leadership and vision to your patience and compassion is what makes The Friends Network an exceptional organization
Together you have brought such joy and given opportunity for positive self esteem to so many lives, along with respite for their loved ones. There is no doubt that there have been times and will be in the future, that you would like to abandon ship. However, you both manage to see land ahead and lower your sea anchor during storms. So thank you both for making this world a better place. You are a joy and blessing to your families and 'Friends'. God bless you both always. TFN Volunteer