By Kristin Blalock, Circles RVA Community Coordinator
Poverty is not just about a lack of financial stability. Living in a state of surviving is an emotional battle where social isolation can reign.
Enter Circles RVA, a community-driven, relationship-based approach to breaking the cycle of poverty. Individuals who may lack a support system or “safety net” participate in weekly gatherings, an initial set of life skills classes followed by ongoing support. Upon graduation from the initial classes, these individuals, referred to as Circle Leaders, are paired with two specific “Allies” who walk with them over an 18 month commitment. Allies are a source of accountability, encouragement, and motivation while Leaders are moving towards achieving their individual goals for self-sufficiency.
Circles is forging friendships across socio-economic lines, knowing it will be life changing for all involved. The 2017 Circles Impact Report shows that Leaders across the nation had an average 88% pay increase and 38% increase in home ownerships after participating in Circles for 18 months. Allies’ lives are changing, too. The Circles model develops a deeper level of understanding and serves as a catalyst for advocacy.
Circles RVA launched their first cohort of Leaders in RVA last August and are in the process of launching a second cohort. They are actively recruiting:
– Leaders: Individuals/families who want to take a chance on something better
– Allies: Individuals willing to build an intentional relationship with a Circle Leader
– Volunteers: Opportunities to support Circles RVA include providing meals and assisting in the Children’s Program
Are you ready to expand your circle? Check out the Circles RVA community any Tuesday night. They mee from 6-8pm at 8 N Laurel Street (Grace and Holy Trinity Church building). Dinner and childcare are provided at no cost. Transportation is available, if needed. Contact Kristin, Circles RVA’s Community Coordinator, for details at firstname.lastname@example.org.