Our daughter, Chana Stery, is studying in a seminary in Israel this year.

As with most parents who send their children off to school out of town, we savor and enjoy every phone call, note, e-mail and text message we receive from our daughter. An added beauty to these communications is our knowing that we're not only the ones back home who get to hear from her on a regular basis. She continues to correspond with her very best friend: a lovely little girl named Miranda.

Miranda is a child with special needs. During Chana Stery's four years of volunteering for our community's Friendship Circle, she and a friend, Mushka Sapo, would visit Miranda at her home at least once a week.

One of close to 100 branches across the globe, the Friendship Circle pairs teenage volunteers with children with special needs in an effort to provide some much-needed friendship for its clients and greater communal understanding of developmental problems.

But what began when Miranda was 6 has developed into an inseparable bond between these three girls. It literally is a friendship that has changed all of their lives.

"When we watched you leave on Sunday, it was hard to even imagine that you're leaving for a whole year," wrote Miranda's parents to our daughter. "We knew the time would come, and don't think we'll ever be ready for it.

"We feel like the luckiest parents," they continued. "Four years ago, we were gifted with you and Mushka and know there is a reason for that. We thank you so very much for touching our hearts the way you have and being such a part of our lives.We love you so much, and you are truly a part of our family and always will be."

When Chana Stery recently came home to share in the celebration of her brother's bar mitzvah, her first stop was Miranda's house.

My wife and I are so proud and moved, not just from seeing the impact that Chana Stery has had on Miranda and her family, but from the blessings the entire community has reaped upon witnessing 300 local teenagers rise up to the challenge with such maturity and leadership, and demonstrate the utmost of love and care for other individuals. These are relationships that will last forever.