Communication Builds Our Community

Circle of Friends to Host Ribbon-Cutting at New Campus

Disability Non-profit is Crowdfunding Building's $1.1 Million Cost

A ribbon-cutting event celebrating the Circle of Friends new location is planned to include a ribbon-cutting and reception co-hosted by the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, according to an announcement by the non-profit group.

The organization serves an adult disability community from their new home at 333 Lime Ave, Lake Wales. The public reception will take place on June 22 beginning at 11:30 am with a program following at noon..

"We have been blessed with the opportunity to expand our program and resources and continue to grow our enrollment," said Circle of Friends CEO Crystal Higbee of the organization's growth and relocation.

"Polk being one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation means the need for disability programs keeps pace with one in four residents in our state living with a disability," Higbee said. "I hope the Circle of Friends can serve as a model for disability programs and housing."

Skip Alford, CEO of the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, added that "the Chamber and EDC are pleased to support the Circle of Friends Ministry in its move and new growth. Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities deserve the dignity to live their American Dream. We are grateful to our chamber members who continue to support this cause, and we invite others to join!"

The disability non-profit is currently crowdfunding the building's $1.1 million price tag. The larger space allows Circle of Friends Ministry to accommodate its 31 clients, expand services, and plan for future disability housing.

Programs provided help ensure individuals with disabilities have access to the best possible outcomes for daily living, employment, and housing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the "unemployment rate for people with a disability [is] more than double that of people with no disability." The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness found "nearly one-quarter (24%) of individuals experiencing homelessness... are people with disabilities who met the federal definition of experiencing chronic homelessness."

The Circle of Friends has invited local businesses to lean into their care for the disability cause and attract new clientele by joining its "" fundraiser throughout the year. The initiative sells green glow-in-the-dark "Disability Awareness 2023" wristbands, promoting patronage of their partners supporting their mission.


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