A Christian Friendship Network

NewFriendsCircleNew Friends connects teens and young adults in high school and college with children with special needs and their families. The purpose of New Friends is to build relationships by focusing on our abilities, not our disabilities, while creating a fun-filled atmosphere where the entire family feels safe, relaxed and happy! This program is a ministry of our Jesus Cares Ministries (JCM), which is a national outreach ministry to people with developmental disabilities, their families and the communities they live in. 

Participate in New Friends

New Friends is affiliated with WELS supported Lutheran schools, but families of all denominations are welcome. Participants consist of high school and college volunteers from surrounding communities, and special needs children/teens, along with their families/mentors.  


New Friends groups gather at a place of their choosing that best suits their individual needs. Events may be held at an area school or a local facility. 

They begin with a brief devotional message of hope, followed by fun activities planned by the volunteers. Some activities include sporting activities, music, games, singing, dancing, crafts and snacks.

Get involved 

Being a part of New Friends gives you the opportunity to make a positive difference in your life, and in someone else’s, by sharing your friendship and faith. You will develop relationships and experiences that are truly rewarding! 

View a listing of the New Friends Programs.

Learn more

Connect with JCM on Facebook. Download the JCM New Friends flyer.

For more information about New Friends or to start a local program, contact Rev. Joel Gaertner at 1-888-600-TLHA (8542), (952) 873-4752 or jpgaertner@tlha.org.

Make a difference 

Listen to how New Friends has made a different to a high school student volunteer and to a parent involved in the program.


Want to share your story? Email us at stories@tlha.org.