WHY Our Work Matters
Our Mission, Vision, & Goal
Friends Forever International empowers leaders to connect, strengthen, and serve communities around the globe by combining their passion to make the world a better place with the skills, experiences, and resources required to do so.
FFI’s vision is that youth are recognized and supported as the catalysts for building a better world.
FFI's goal is that every person who desires, regardless of ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, and ability will have the opportunity to build their leadership skills beyond what they imagined possible before participating in the program. These leaders will transform the way that they see the world and realize that they can change the world for the better. Now.
Where we started
Bob Raiche founded Friends Forever in 1986. Bob believed there was a need for a program like Friends Forever after reading countless newspaper articles covering the conflict in Northern Ireland. Our first delegation of youth leaders was made up of five Catholic and five Protestant young men from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, who traveled to Portsmouth, NH in the fall of 1986.
Bob’s experience with group work led him to create the “Life Raft Formula”, now known as the Skill Building Phase. Since our founding, we have applied this simple, yet innovative group work theory to more than 1,700 participants around the world.
Robert 'Bob' Raiche, 1928-2014
Over the span of 60 years, Bob served communities from Hawaii to New Hampshire in a variety of capacities, including as the executive director of several YMCAs. In his “retirement”, Bob fulfilled his lifelong ambition to be an entrepreneur by opening a toy store in Danvers, Massachusetts.
No matter what was going on in his life, Bob remained dedicated to Friends Forever International. He was always at the airport to greet the teams and did so just months before his passing. Bob received numerous awards and recognitions for his work with FFI, including the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice, the Martin Luther King JR. Diversity Award, The Paul Harris Fellow, and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. A longtime Rotarian himself, Bob also received two of Rotary International’s highest honors: the Service Above Self Award and the Donald MacRae Peace Award.
Bob's family continues to play a role in making his vision for FFI, and the world, a reality. His son, Robert, serves on our Board of Directors, and his grandchildren volunteer both from programs and special events. Friends and family also established the Robert Raiche Fellowship Fund to help carry on the inspiring work Bob dedicated his life to. FFI established Bob Raiche Day in 2014, an annual tradition to honor Bob and recognizing the ability of one person to make a difference.
Bob inspired many to become involved in global peace projects. He is missed by all whose lives he touched and is a testament to one person's ability to change the world.