People have asked me “What is Circles?”
As the Simcoe County Circles Coordinator, I have the privilege of working and learning from so many wonderful people in our community. Recently I engaged in a powerful conversation with a wonderful woman who is currently struggling to get herself and her 4 children out of poverty. What I learned from her (even though I thought I knew) was that the circumstances that forced her to make some very tough decisions, which led to the struggle to keep her family together, could VERY EASILY have happened to me.
What also moved me (to tears) was her strength and determination to make a positive change in her life that will help her children to rise above their current living situation. Our meeting was very natural, just 2 parents chatting while our children played and in those hours, where we met as women doing the best we can with what we have, we shared our stories, laughter and compassion.
I knew that based on the relationship we had begun to develop, which is based on mutual respect, I could share with her some of the resources I know of, that she may find helpful… specifically Getting Ahead and Circles.
I am happy to share that she will be joining our September Getting Ahead group and she is looking forward to becoming a Leader in our North Simcoe County Circle.
Circles has been designed to tap into the natural and authentic relationships that people create when they have the “hat-less” opportunity to simply be themselves. I look forward to the chance to stand with my new friend as she works through her journey to her (and her family’s) success and I anticipate that our relationship will continue long past the day when she finds stability and success.
I am an advocate of Circles, not simply because it is my job, but because it is the most humanistic and honorable poverty reduction program I have had the pleasure to be a part of. I hope you too can see how making real, authentic and meaningful relationships with others can help us all rise up.
Want to know a bit more…
Circles is a community-based initiative that creates relationships across economic boundaries. It connects people of low-income who have attended the Getting Ahead program with people of middle and upper-income who have attended a full-day Bridges Out of Poverty workshop, on a weekly basis, in a casual and purposeful way.
At each meeting all the Circles members volunteer to enjoy a meal together, connect, share of themselves and learn from each other. Members form long-lasting authentic relationships built on mutual respect and increase the social capital for all involved.
social capital is the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.
Circles is a community of people in varying states of economic stability brought together in intentional supportive relationships of reciprocity composed of :
Leaders: an individual or family working to get out of poverty who has completed the Getting Ahead workshop. Leaders are program participants who provide grassroots feedback about the multiple systemic barriers that keep people stuck in poverty, while building their own resources and moving toward the goal of sustainable employment
Allies: One to four middle class individuals who have completed a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop and are willing to engage in an authentic, intentional friendships built on mutual respect with the Leader (and their family).
Circles Coach: The Circles Coach supports Circles Leaders and Allies in fine-tuning personalized action plans. The Circles coach is a paid position that has received specialized training to support and manage the Circles program.