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By Rev. Donald A. Ford
Special to The SUN
Circles is a national campaign designed to help families out of poverty by surrounding those in need with allies that build relationships between those who have and those that have less. Circles is a national initiative that has a proven record of accomplishing what Scott Miller, the founder of Circles, calls, “ending poverty in our nation, in our lifetime, one family at a time.”
Circles is made up of those who are motivated to move to economic stability, called Circle Leaders, and Allies, who provide friendship, coaching, networking and anything else that builds relationships and “social capital.” Circles crosses class, cultural, religion, denominational and other boundaries that have a tendency to separate people. Circles involves a commitment of at least 18 months for both Circle Leaders and Allies.
Results can be seen in the data collected for those who have committed to Circles for at least 18 months: among the people in Circles nationally, employment is up 45 percent, enrollment in education is up 31 percent, the number of those opening a savings account is up 38 percent, 28 percent have paid off a credit card, those having health insurance is up 30 percent, volunteer work in the community is up 72 percent, those relying on public benefits is down 17 percent and debt has been reduced by 54 percent.
Each week, Circle Leaders and Allies meet at the Community United Methodist Church on Lewis Street in downtown Pagosa Springs on Thursday evening for a meal and a time to focus on meeting their self-sufficiency goals.
As the number of families and individuals committed to be Circles Leaders increases, the need for additional Allies also grows.
Beginning Thursday, Feb. 7, following the meal at 6 p.m., Pastor Don Ford will lead an eight-week course on becoming an Ally. Included in the course is an understanding of the “hidden rules.”
If you are interested in being an Ally, contact Ford at the Community United Methodist Church at 264-5508 or come by the church any Thursday at 6 p.m. and become a part of the solution in the work to eliminate poverty in our lifetime.