September 2021

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“I still cherish those friendships today and never felt so welcomed in being part of such a great community.”

Gaby Portuguez first learned about Friendly House when she moved to the neighborhood in 2008. When Gaby’s son was old enough for preschool, it just so happened that Friendly House’s full-day preschool program was launching at the exact same time. Since then, Gaby has had a long and wonderful journey with Friendly House and has been involved in many ways. She began prepping lunches as a volunteer for the Children’s Programs and became involved in the Preschool Parent’s Advisory Group. Gaby approached Vaune, the executive director at the time, about becoming a member of the board. Not only did Gaby join, but she also became the chair of the board’s Programming and Planning Committee, which oversees our services. She also became a dance and fitness instructor for Friendly House’s Community Recreation & Education program.

“I have so many wonderful memories during Friendly House’s auction and birthday events, participating with the board members that were always willing to go the extra mile to make everyone feel welcome. The amazing group of neighbors that developed into friendships throughout the years of teaching fitness and dance classes, and during the time my son attended preschool—I still cherish those friendships today and never felt so welcomed in being part of such a great community.”

Gaby also discussed the impacts of going through the COVID-19 pandemic as a member of the Friendly House community. Although it has been difficult for Gaby (and for all of us) to stay connected during these uncertain times, she has felt supported by the strength of our community.

“I carry the great memories shared before and presently when I see a ‘Friendly’ face walking or hiking in the neighborhood. It makes my future brighter and balanced.”

Gaby’s enthusiastic engagement in Friendly House’s programs has benefited many members of our community, from the kids that she was prepping lunches for many years ago, to the adults whom she inspired in her dance and fitness classes. It’s people like Gaby who are willing to invest their time, energy, and love into our community that make Friendly House an amazing place.

A huge thank you to Gaby for sharing her story and being a part of this project!

If there is someone whose story you would like to hear or if you would like to share your Friendly House story, please reach out to us by emailing