There are some new faces and new things going on at Circles.
First, the Circles Coach who helped launch our initiative in Pitcairn has moved on to another job. In her place, we have Rose Alexander Staples, who is a bright, warm, and energetic presence in our midst. People seem to be warming up to her nicely and after just 3 months on the job, she seems to have gained a good hand on the Circles process already. Rose is good at being firm, but kind and caring - an essential quality in our initiative.
Second, Circles has now developed its own curriculum instead of using the materials from another company. Because of this, we don't have to pay for materials! We download and copy for ourselves. I am hoping this is a permanent condition because it will save us hundreds of dollars each year.
Third, the Pitcairn Circles Initiative has drafted a plan, has gathered partners, and has gotten funding for expansion into McKeesport. McKeesport was once a BIG booming city, full of industry hustle and bustle. It is no longer. With partners like Bethany House Healthy Villages, Beulah Park United Methodist Church, Highland Grove United Methodist Church, the YMCA of Crawford Village, and the Heinz Endowments, we anticipate forming our McKeesport board this fall and beginning our first cohort of Circle Leaders in training in February 2014. Keino Fitzpatrick will be our McKeesport Circles Coach. He is well tied in with the McKeesport community, having worked with the city officials to successfully obtain a Kaboom Playground grant most recently. Please keep us in prayer as we move forward and expand!
Fourth, in Pitcairn, we just started our sixth class of Circle Leaders. It is a really big class with 13 people! Many of our folks have gotten jobs, learned to budget, gotten better housing, and made better choices about people, places and things that have previously gotten them in trouble. Along the way a few of them get discouraged and stop coming. Part of our job is to try to keep them engaged and full of hope, because hopelessness is destructive in this stabilization process.
Getting out of poverty is very, very hard for our folks. It is about transformation in the midst of creating new opportunities and networks, which takes a lot of time, perseverance, and motivation. Sometimes it feels like one step forward and two steps back. Sometimes the effort put forth feels like wasted time or spinning wheels. Circles is essential in this process as we empower, support, equip, and encourage people in their journeys.
Thank you for your continued interest and support!