30 Years of Friendship… and Counting

A long-running group is finding creative ways to reach out to their friends.

By Marriet Grootenboer

I have been involved in Friendship since 1985. At that time, Friendship Club was held on Sunday during the afternoon service. We would meet for five months at Second CRC (now known as CrossPoint CRC), and leaders from that church would be in charge. Then we would meet for five months at Immanuel CRC and utilize their leadership. I believe we had about eight members, almost all of which were children from our congregations. Immanuel Church burned down about 18 years ago, and we started meeting full-time at CrossPoint.

A decision was made to change from meeting on Sunday to meeting on Tuesday evening in order to better reach our community. We were richly blessed and our group doubled in size, then tripled, and kept growing. At one point we had about 40 Friends. With caregivers and mentors also taken into account, it became a bit too large, but we all loved being together and made it work.

Eventually Immanuel Church had their own building again, and one of our leaders started a new group there which met on Thursday evenings. Both Friendship Clubs always celebrate Christmas together with a nativity play in the church. We also host a Friendship Sunday together.

This past spring and summer I made four rounds of care package drop-offs to encourage Friends and their caregivers. Our church has been extremely helpful and has photocopied hundreds of coloring pages, word searches, cross words, and stories for inclusion in the packages. It has been a humbling experience for me to find out where all our Friends live. They come from far and near! It takes about 3 hours to drop off all the packages. Of course, that includes talking with the caregivers, who often call their Friends to the door to have a chat with me, which I love.

Care packages delivered to Friends included a fun handmade mask, a handwritten card, and a wonderful fall craft put together by volunteers at the church.

After learning about the many different living arrangements of our Friends, I started including their roommates even if they didn’t come to Friendship. The caregivers appreciate this so much. My family has gone with me to sing for Friends on their birthday with gifts and balloons. One of our Friends lives nearby and we have gone for many walks. She also joins me on Friday afternoons for a Zoom meeting that another leader organizes. I send a link to our group homes every week so they can join as well. One of our Friends sends me a morning devotion every day—I feel she puts me to shame!

Pictures from last year’s Friendship Club during their Christmas program.

What do I love most about my Friendship Club? I stand in awe of how faithful they are. I am impressed at how much they love each other, and us, their mentors. They are so sure of God’s love for them, so sure of going to heaven! At a funeral last year, I heard one of our Friends say to a lady in front of her who was crying, “Move along sister; you don’t have to cry, she’s in heaven!” That sure made me smile. I love that our Friends are never embarrassed to share their struggles with the group. They worship so wholeheartedly. I could go on. It’s hard for me to imagine not being part of Friendship Club.

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