Making a difference in the lives of youth with special needs!

About Us - The Friendship Foundation

About Us

Changing the world one friendship at a time.


The Friendship Foundation supports parents and families who have children and young adults with special needs by providing a safe, accepting and inclusive environment where they can enjoy sports, art, music and many other social programs with their peers. Our friendly staff and helpful volunteers create a fun experience for all. It is our belief that every person is precious and capable of love, connection and friendship.

Programs are targeted to specific age groups while some encompass a broad gathering of all ages including parents.At each program, children with special needs are paired with student volunteers for an event full of fun peer interaction. The Friendship Foundation serves to augment our local educational systems and professional therapies by creating a natural setting for individuals with special needs to practice their learned skills amongst their peers.

Our History

We started out with 8 children with special needs and 22 teen volunteers, meeting once per month on a Sunday afternoon in Manhattan Beach. At each “Sunday Circle," our group would gather to hang out and socialize while playing games, singing songs and enjoying a variety of interactive entertainment. Soon thereafter, a few of our teens took this concept to their high schools and established school-sanctioned clubs at Mira Costa High School, Palos Verdes High School, and Redondo Union High School. 36 Friendship School Clubs exist today throughout the South Bay at elementary, middle, and high school levels in public, private, and charter schools. In addition to the Friendship School Clubs, we offer social and recreational programs 6 days per week, year-round. Our services reach 1800 students annually.

Quick Facts


Year History


Programs & Activities

Friendship School Clubs

Students Involved

Meet Our Team

Yossi Mintz
Executive Director/ President
Yossi is the founder of the Friendship Foundation (formerly The Friendship Circle). Through his leadership, the organization has gone from serving 30 youth to serving over 1800 youth annually. He continues to drive the vision of this organization to new heights. Yossi enjoys hiking, running, being a father, and is a skilled ping pong player.
Nina Patel
Managing Director
Nina first joined the Friendship Foundation in 2015 and brings her years of experience in non-profit fundraising and leadership to our organization. She served as the President of the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation Board of Directors for three years and two years as the Vice President of Fundraising. Prior to that she owned and operated a specialty card and stationery business for three years. She sold the business to raise a family. Nina earned her bachelors in Chemistry from Cal State University Northridge. She enjoys tennis, reading, hiking and entertaining friends.
Shannon Jones
Program Manager
Shannon graduated from University of Oregon with a degree in Family and Human Services where she developed a strong passion to work with the special needs community. She is excited to grow and expand the social-recreational programs at Friendship Foundation. Shannon loves finding new and exciting opportunities for our participants and volunteers! She moved to Redondo Beach for some much needed sun and a change of scenery after four years in Oregon. Hiking, running, and anything outdoors are Shannon’s favorite hobbies outside of trying new foods and enjoying beautiful days at the beach.
John Zimniski
Program Manager
John graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Sports Management. He worked in the athletic field for 12 years before transitioning into behavioral work for the last 7 years. John oversees our athletic programs -- Basketball League, Soccer and Fitness Clinics -- and our evening social programs. Outside of work, John enjoys sports, music and the outdoors.
Michelle Manzano
School Program Manager
Michelle joined the Friendship Foundation as the Office Administrator with a background in Business Marketing and Administration. She is currently attending Mount Saint Mary's University and pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Social Work. She is passionate about her faith and loves connecting with people from all walks of life. Exploring new adventures like hiking, going to the beach and running marathons are activities she enjoys most. Michelle loves to express herself through painting, reading, writing and being around family and friends.
Daniel Stump
Program Development Director
Daniel joined the Friendship Foundation in November of 2019. Daniel has spent time working in afterschool education after relocating to Los Angeles in 2015. He graduated from North Carolina State University with a major in Sport Management and a minor in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. He started his career with the YMCA of the Triangle in Raleigh, NC and ran a variety of programs such as; summer day camps, youth and adult sport leagues, after school programs, and much more. Daniel is passionate about serving his community and always lending a helping hand to others. In his free time Daniel likes to play basketball, golf, explore Los Angeles’ cuisine, and spend long days at the beach.
Nicole Valencia
Program and Training Manager
Nicole Valencia graduated from Marymount California University with a B.A. in Psychology. Nicole brings 9 years experience in management and holds a passion for people, training, and development. She is excited to work closely with all our volunteers and continue to foster a positive experience for all our participants and families. As a graduate from Marymount California University, she is bringing her background in psychology to further develop our programs, training, and our volunteer's leadership skills. In her free time, Nicole enjoys the outdoors, meditation, cycling, and is an art enthusiast.
Ashley Wright
Office Administrator
Ashley moved to California in 2015 after growing up in Tucson, and graduating from the University of Arizona. During that time, she coached soccer at a local high school discovering her passion for working with kids. Outside of work, Ashley enjoys spending time with her dogs, reading, doing puzzles, riding her bike, and hiking.

Recreation Leaders

Sylvia Martinez

Shelley Johnson

Jonathan Nunez

Andrew Sarno

Erick Cerda


Meet Our Ambassadors

Erin Palowski
Erin has been with Friendship Foundation since our first program and brings a positive and friendly energy to every event she attends. She has become a great ambassador for our organization.
Jacob Dominguez
Jacob loves going to beach camp and bowling! He has been with us for almost 14 years and is friendly with everyone he meets. He helps us twice a week in the office doing tasks such as shredding paper.

Board Of Directors

Yossi Mintz


Adam Carroll

Founder of New Age Electronics

Portia Cohen

Strategic Market Liason for the

Chief Strategy Officer, UCLA Health

Josef Gorowitz

Founder and President of Prodége

Mike Kaplan

Chairman of Lakeshore Learning

John Pollitt

Owner of Pollitt Law Inc.

Edward Kaminsky

Owner of Kaminsky Realty Group

Advisory Board Members

Alyse Zwickel

Parent of Special Needs Child, former Director of Development for the Friendship Foundation

Lisa Perlot

Parent of Special Needs Child

Tom Nguyen

Wealth Advisor at EP Wealth Advisor

Josh Carroll

Financial Advisor at Raymond James

Colyar Pridgen

Senior Investment Strategist at Capital Group

Contact Us!

  • Address: 2108 Vail Avenue Redondo Beach, CA 90278
  • Phone: 310-214-6677
  • Email:

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