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Circles of Pagosa Springs, Part 2

By Rev. Donald A. Ford
Special to The PREVIEW

Circles is about relationships.

It is through relationships that a person truly experiences the freedom of not living in poverty. Allies surround Circle Leaders with support, much like friends provide for friends.

The following is a testimonial from an Ally who has taken the 12-week Ally Training Course and continued in the Circles program, providing support for Circle Leaders.

“As a new Ally, completing a little over six months in the program, I think the most unique feature I have discovered is how much there is to learn about people who live in a different social class. Most of us are born into one of three social classes; upper, middle or poverty, and for the most part that is generally where we spend most of our lives, knowing little about how the other two classes live and function. Upper and middle classes tend to live in a higher socioeconomic environment built on advanced education and training as well as with social rules and norms that are much different from the poverty class. These rules were taught to us as a product of our genetic upbringing and were simply a part of our educational process. Poverty class individuals who grow up in generational poverty, all they and their family has ever known, do not possess the same educational, social, and economic skills as the other two classes and face many extreme hardships on a day to day basis through basically no fault of their own. They are often discriminated against as being lazy, unskilled, ignorant and totally unmotivated in improving their lives. Some of us who better understand the poverty class may have had a financial, legal or health related hardship in our lives which, for a time, threw us into situational poverty. Situational poverty is much easier to escape from because the middle class rules and values in society are entrenched and people are able to use these skills to return to their former social class.

“In truth, poverty class individuals have many of the same desires, interests and feelings of the other two classes. They are often extremely generous, caring, well meaning individuals who simply don’t know the hidden rules of the middle class, which many of us take for granted. Not understanding scheduling, goal establishment, and higher order education and specialized training puts them at a severe disadvantage to improve their social class.

“In Circles, both Allies and Circle Leaders from the poverty class receive extensive training on understanding the way the other class thinks and makes decisions. After training, we meet weekly as one social group, with a dinner meal followed by an educational program relevant to both classes. Through social interaction, friendships are formed that leads to trust and caring in each other. I believe the reason the program has a good success rate is the lack of mentoring on the part of anyone, simply a coming together to learn from each other how to reach common ground and improve our daily lives.”

As we start a new training program, it would be wonderful to have a good turnout of both Ally and Circle Leader trainees on board for the new year. We welcome anyone who has a desire to interact and learn from others.

If you would like more information, contact Pastor Don Ford at Community United Methodist Church or Jennifer at the Methodist Thrift Shop.

Next week, a testimonial from a Circle Leader.

This story was posted on November 21, 2013.