It always starts with the families we serve!
Family Mental Models
When families first come to Circles, they create mental models of what life is like. It shows the hopeless nature of poverty. Most families are working incredibly hard but are not getting ahead - in fact for some of our families, things actually get worse the harder they work. It starts with understanding poverty through the eyes of those experiencing it. Without our families our work is simply ineffective!
So how do we help?
We listen to families so we can really understand the issues.
Nearly 40% of families with children in Adams and Franklin Counties are struggling to make ends meet. In fact, it takes nearly $54,000 for a family of three to be self-sufficient. The barriers that families encounter as they try to work their way out of poverty seem insurmountable. Having support from the Support Circles Community helps individuals and families to press on, working to build a better future for their children and loved ones.
Support Circles Leaders are people who are working hard and playing by the rules, but are stuck. We call them Support Circle Leaders so everyone in the Circles Community is reminded that they are in charge of their own lives. Allies, our community volunteers, offer support, brainstorming and different perspectives, but Support Circles Leaders are the ones who do the hard work to build a brighter future.
Initially, families spend about 26 weeks investigating poverty on a personal and systematic level. They perform a personal assessment and create their own plan on how to get out of poverty.
The Wage Gap illustrates the lack of a pathway out of poverty and shows some of the systematic issues that keep families stuck. We must better understand the realities of poverty so we can implement realistic solutions. Families work with us - they want to be part of the solution. We believe that everyone has gifts to give and communities are enriched when we all bring our gifts to the table!
We match families with Allies.
Support Circles Allies are community volunteers. They are people who want to create friendships across race and class lines and want to get to know someone whose experiences might be very different from their own. Allies don't "do for" Circle Leaders. It is about being in fellowship with someone, it is about breaking down barriers and it is about walking with someone on a very difficult journey - because nothing about getting out of poverty is easy!
Allies get an inside look at the causes and community and systemic barriers that families encounter on their journey out of poverty. Allies also often have an increased network that allows them to bring new and innovative ideas to the table.
Together we work to create a path out of poverty.
Families bring experience and do the heavy lifting to change their own life. Allies bring experience and a larger social network. Together we can share ideas, offer support and look for innovative and effective community solutions, as well as, work together to change ineffective policies. On the micro level we help 10 - 20 families at a time. On the macro level we take what we are learning to help thousands of families escape poverty. Isn't it time we learned from those experiencing poverty and used what we learn for an effective end goal? That's what we do at Circles!