The Friend Zone
In 2021 PDS clients and staff imagined and created a new store/social hub called the Friend Zone. This post-pandemic club house, designed after Monica's apartment in the show "Friends,” is a place where vaccinated people with and without disabilities can hang out and have fun in an inclusive and accepting environment. This large space features a huge TV, leather couches, a modern kitchen, a coffee bar called “Central Perk,” as well as an art room, and 2 bathrooms with fancy bidets.
Separately, PDS is renting space (The Odd Fellows Lodge) for table tennis, dance, and exercise. PDS participants now have somewhere safe to socialize, dance, sing, play games, do art, and safely relax with friends in person.
These places that PDS rents that are open to the public so the folks that PDS serves can invite their non-disabled (or disabled) co-workers, family members and friends to come and hang out, play air hockey, table tennis, or watch movies, for instance. PDS holds social events such as parties and dances during PDS hours and opens these events to our clients’ co-workers, friends, and family. PDS staff pre-screens and supervises guests to ensure that our clients are always safe (i.e., guests must be vaccinated for Covid-19 and rapid PCR testing may be required). PDS staff supports our participants to socialize with their guests and make sure that they are not being taken advantage of (monetarily, sexually, or otherwise) by others.
PDS clients spend most of the their time in "natural environments" in our community. Some of the natural environments in which training takes place include but are not limited to employment sites, restaurants, banks, gyms, supermarkets, our clients’ homes (cooking), community college classes, integrated dance, art, yoga and language classes, community centers (Bingo), beaches, tennis courts, golfing ranges, the local martial arts center (self-defense), public parks and anywhere else that non-disabled people of the same age typically spend their time weekdays.
Because they had so much input in designing our post-pandemic services, PDS clients take ownership over The Friend Zone and maintain control over the schedule of activities, hiring of employees, and every detail of the program design. They enjoy extraordinarily rich social lives, with friends, where being different is OK, and everyone is welcomed in recreational and leisure activities, as long as they are doing their best to be kind.