Guest Article: Circles Seeking Volunteers
By Michelle Marciniak and Paige Greve
Circles Newaygo County is a new initiative aimed at reducing poverty in Newaygo County. They do this by creating networks across social class lines. They’ve come to find that people who are struggling do not often have the wealth of resources and connections that those of the middle class do. By pairing up participants, called Circle Leaders, with middle to upper class volunteers, called Allies, these networks are shared and friendships are formed.
Circle Leaders are people who are working to become economically self-sufficient. Their goals can vary widely from...
...home ownership to job retention to furthering education. They are called “Circle Leaders” because through this process, they are empowered to lead themselves out of poverty, toward the goals they set.
“Allies” work with their Circle Leader to figure out how to accomplish their plan for self-sufficiency. The toughest challenge an Ally faces is the instinct to “rescue” a Circle Leader. The Circle Leader cannot learn to cope with the hurdles that block their pathway if a well-meaning Ally tries to fix their problems for them. Instead, the Ally’s role is to walk beside the Circle Leader, helping them link to the resources and support necessary for the Circle Leader to be successful.
Allies for Circles Newaygo County are asked to commit between four and ten hours of their time per month. It is necessary that they make a weekly contact with their Circle leader by way of a phone call, email, text message, or personal visit. They must also attend two meetings per month to help their Circle Leader with plans and support. This commitment is 18 months. It takes time to get to know a person and develop the kind of trust necessary for this model to work. It also takes time for Circle Leaders to move from poverty to economic self-sufficiency. With the current roster of ten Circle Leaders, they are in need of nine additional Allies. A brief sensitivity training for Allies starts mid April.
Circles also have other volunteer opportunities that vary in involvement and time commitment. An application and background check are necessary steps in all of the positions as they do provide a two generational approach with children actively participating in programming. Interested parties can access the volunteer needs through the Volunteer Resource Center’s website at www.newaygovolunteer.org.
The Circles community joins together on Thursday evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Fremont United Methodist Church, and childcare and a meal are provided.
So, are you interested in joining a community initiative working to end poverty? Do you want to build relationships across class and economic lines? Do you want to learn more about poverty in your community? Are you ready to make a difference in someone’s life? If the answer is yes, contact Michelle Marciniak at (231) 924.0641 ext. 220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This program is generously funded by a grant from Fremont Area Community Foundation. For more information please visit www.truenorthservices.org.
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