Intrigued by this new organization, I turned to Founder Carlyn Shaw to get the deets on what Turning Strangers Into Friends was all about!

Turning Strangers Into Friends

What exactly is Turning Strangers into Friends?
Carlyn: TSIF is the way I live my life and manifest my dreams. Every single person we have in our life was at one point, a “stranger”… so who are we to judge the person standing next to us in any given moment.

I believe we are all connected. We can choose to walk around with blinders on, unaware of the people around us. OR, we can be open to the opportunities that cross our path every day.


People = Possibilities. 



Was there a turning point in your life that prompted you to start this program?
Carlyn: Yes, there is long history to the birth of this concept and it all comes down to how I have chosen to live my life. If I think back to how it really began, the idea, the longing for connection, I go back to 1998. I was 19 years old.


I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis… and I couldn’t find anyone else my age that had it. I also lost two of my best friends in separate car accidents that year and learned all too fast the value one person has on our lives. Unable to find others that truly understood what I was going through, I felt very alone. Stepping out of my comfort zone, I decided to take on life with a YES attitude.


I began to travel the world. I became very involved with the National MS Society. I gained confidence that I had a purpose. In doing this, I forced myself to step into the world to find others that shared the smallest bit of understanding to my situation. I wanted support, not sympathy.


10 years after I began to define who I was, I created my first cards and defined my Title as: Turning Strangers Into Friends. I’d recently been let go from my job of four years. Knowing I was open to exploring any new opportunity, I created “connection cards” in hopes to meet someone to be my next stepping-stone into a new career.


For me, it is simple. If I take a bird’s eye view of my life and all of my accomplishments, I know that in reality, I did not accomplish them on my own. Yes, I said, “YES”. But, someone else offered me the chance, gave me the inspiration, the encouragement or even talked me out of one idea verses another— my only job, to give myself the permission to go for it.


Unknowingly, by creating these cards, I literally defined my passion: Turning Strangers into Friends… and my journey began!  Now I aim to lead by example and offer ways for others to be more open to the challenges of communicating with the variety of people they encounter every day.

How do people join or start connecting? Is there a fee?
Carlyn:As of now, people can join me on my Facebook Fan Page by searching for “Turning Strangers into Friends” – follow me on twitter @Stranger2Friend  or read my blog posts at . Soon, visitors will have the ability to share their own STF Story, share photos of their new friends, as well as participate in group discussions. My dream is to create a site that allows people to be a possibility- for each other, offering the ability to learn from each unique person that contributes to the site.


So far, how has the outcome been?
Carlyn:Personally, the outcome has been incredible! By living my life being open to others, I’ve literally manifested ALL the people and resources Ineeded to get to where I am today.


From my family of friends in the MS world  (which some might consider a negative) to finding a place to live in my new city, Wilmington, NC (I moved here having never been here prior and not knowing a soul), I’ve trusted that being open would provide me everything I need… and so far, so good.


As for the feedback from “strangers” along the way, the support has been amazing. We live in a time of uncertainty, a time that forces us to count on our own intuition and be accountable for our own actions.


This is what I do and this is what I try to teach. I make it easy for others to learn from my ups and downs and at the same time. Most importantly, I’ve received endless thank you’s for the encouragement I’ve provided my followers to take on their day being aware of who is around them.

Describe the scenario on your very first stranger you turned into a friend:
Oh boy, I don’t think there is one “first stranger” story but I can tell that some of my favorite “strangers” are the people I meet due to unfortunate circumstances. I call these friends “Silver Lining Strangers”. It is in the tragedy that we are brought together, reminding me that we really are all connected via our personal stories. 


You can read some of my stories at A friend/Guest Contributor, Vanessa Drake gives an awesome example with her story, “From Strangers… To Friends” posted in April 2011.

What are your goals for this TSIF?
Caryln: The sky is the limit! Ah… dreaming aside, my goal is to bring it back to basics. To encourage people to shake hands, write letters, meet for coffee, be curious, share conversation, offer advice, ask for help, provide assistance… I want people to come to my website to be inspired to step away from the internet and take action: meeting people to create possibilities.


What is your latest venture you are doing w/TSIF?
Carlyn: I’ve been asked to prepare a presentation for a Women’s Conference in Raleigh, NC. This will be my first speaking engagement specifically with Strangers to Friends. For more information: