Friends Forever: Creating World Peace with the Next Generation
The Portsmouth Rotary Club has been a key supporter of the Friends Forever non-profit since the organization started in 1986. Friends Forever was founded by Rotarian Bob Raiche, and celebrated its 25th anniversary in June 2011. It has been recommended as a model youth peace program by Rotary International, and in 2004, Friends Forever and the Portsmouth Rotary Club received the "Project of the Century" award from Rotary District 7780. For more on Rotary's strong involvement with Friends Forever, check out this video.
Friends Forever promotes trust and understanding among cultures in conflict on both local and international levels. We have helped over 1,000 teenagers from Northern Ireland and Israel, as well as a growing Domestic Immigrant Integration initiative with youth from the Sudan, Congo, Dominican Republic, and Albania, come together across sectarian divides to discover that "they are more alike than different."
We select teenagers who have shown leadership qualities in their homeland, and we bring them to the Seacoast region, as well as to the Massachusetts North Shore and coastal Maine, for several weeks of team-building and conflict resolution workshops every summer and fall. The teens are housed together 24/7, and they live, eat, study, play and volunteer together. For most, it is the first time they have spent any time with teens "from the other side."
Friends Forever follows these teen leaders when they return home, as they report on their progress in working together over the following year(s). We are able to grow our mission of eroding fear and mistrust and building enduring friendships with help from our communities -- leveraging the skills, resources, generosity and enthusiasm of individuals here at home and across the globe.
For more information, please contact Portsmouth Rotarians Neal Ouellett, Ann Kelly, Leonard Seagren or Rick Page.