Move 10 Families Out of Poverty in Pitcairn

by Center Avenue United Methodist Circles (TM) Initiative

Dear Generous People:

We have had quite a big year at Circles! Challenging but with good outcomes.

We began our first group in McKeesport during the month of October. There is great enthusiasm among the participants who are learning a lot and attending with great consistency. They will be graduating soon and becoming Circle Leaders. This is where the big changes begin to happen! We are so excited to see where these folks go!

The Pitcairn group ran into some facility difficulties. After several moves, we ended up moving to the nearby town of Turtle Creek, PA. Turtle Creek has more consistent bus service, which allows Pitcairn residents to continue to participate, but expands our pool of possible participants. Our new facility is very convenient and comfortable.

We are getting ready to begin a new group in February 2015, and have plans to bring in two additional groups during 2015.

From our previous groups, here is some big news:

Amy has completed her program - Managing Office Systems Training. She was the star pupil and finished in record time! She has now enrolled in Community College of Allegheny County full-time, continues to work at McDonald's full-time, works in our office helping people with their resumes and job searches. In addition to all that, she is a single mother of a young daughter. She works so hard and is so impressive. We expect her to go far!

Teresa has been working at the same retail store for almost a year and a half. She finally was able to get a used car. Just last week she found out she will be getting a new apartment in Turtle Creek. It is subsidized housing, so has sliding scale rent payments. She is finally getting on her feet and nearly ready to become an Ally herself!

Kenny has begun the RISE Program. He leaves Pitcairn at 6 am every morning to take 2 buses to get to the Southside on time. His program includes both construction training and GED classes. He is tired, but so excited that he is working toward a new future!

There are too many other stories to tell, but it remains clear that the relational model of Circles is truly effective in helping motivated people get out of poverty.

Thank you all for your continued support! You are making a difference!

If you have not made a donation recently, please consider a future donation.


Circles Update: Aug 2014

                  Circles Mon Valley has had a very exciting first half of the year; we have some great successes with our participants.  We have had a couple of our Circle Leaders reach a self-sufficient level of income (defined as 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines). We also have a couple of Circle Leaders enrolled in higher education and also GED training programs.  Another Circle Leader has earned a promotion to a supervisory position at work!  

                  Recently, we recruited a new class of Circle Leaders in training; they are ready to begin their journey out of poverty!  This new class of trainees is committed and they are learning as much as they can about how they can become self-sufficient through educational and vocational goals.  Some of our new recruits are already job searching, or connecting with educational opportunities just a few weeks into the class!

                  And maybe the most exciting thing going on right now is that Circles is expanding into the city of McKeesport!  We have been working all year preparing the community to start Circles, and the time is nearing; we plan to start our first class in September.  McKeesport is a community that has suffered many challenges in the areas of poverty, but this city is ready for change and for success.  Circles will be one critical element of a large campaign to bring prosperity to a city that is already working hard to bring about progress and change.  

Hi Friends of Circles.

We have some news to report on both our Pitcairn and our McKeesport sites.

Pitcairn is being very intentional in trying to restart some areas of staleness in our local program. This includes retraining our Allies, recruiting new Guiding Coalition (board) members and retraining them, and reenrolling Circle Leaders (low-income folks) who have motivation to continue to work through the challenges of becoming more stable. It is an exciting and necessary time in any program, when "same as usual" is not enough. Retooling and adapting will keep us moving forward in this Circles site.

In the meantime, with the support of grants from the Heinz Endowments and the United Methodist Church, we were able to begin expansion to McKeesport, a much larger city with the same kinds of economic difficulties as Pitcairn, but on a larger scale.

We have had a Town Hall Meeting which was very well attended by the Mayor, the Police Chief, the School Superintendent, some business owners, parents, and faith-based participants from the community. We have begun Ally Training and expect to begin recruiting our first class of Circle Leaders before the summer begins.

See article about McKeesport expansion. 

Additionally, the Heinz Endowments have become more interested in the Circles model as other communities are initiating Circles sites as well. We are in discussion with the founder of Circles to take Circles to scale throughout Allegheny County through various strategic partnerships.

We are developing ways to make an even bigger impact on poverty throughout our area. Someday, I hope to see a headline that reads, "Poverty in Allegheny County, the Lowest in Decades" or "Poverty in Allegheny County the Lowest in the Country." We are poised to be a model for the rest of the state and rest of the country to follow in this battle to eliminate poverty.

Thanks for all of your contributions and your prayers as we continue this important work.

We are still in need of funding for current programming and for our new developments. Your continued gifts will help overcome barriers, which will enable low-income individuals to achieve goals of getting education or meaningful jobs.

If you know of someone who is interested in this work, would like to serve on the board, would like to serve as an Ally, or would like to be one of our "angel donors," please pass this information on to them or pass their names off to us through this email.

Thank you for all you do!

Blessings! Cyndi


Wow - the end of October brought us news that the Heinz Endowments agreed to a grant for expansion of Circles into a nearby community of McKeesport. We had a meeting of all the possible supporters at Bethany House Academy near Crawford Village, which included the Mayor's office, people from the education, health care, businesss and social service sectors. There was a great deal of syergy with what these officials are trying to do within the schools and what Circles does with adults and their families. Things are moving ahead and we have already begun our work there!

The beginning of November brought some challenges to our Pitcairn site when the Center Avenue United Methodist Church building was declared unsafe for occupancy. This happened on November 6th, a Wednesday, the day of the week for our normal meeting. We went to work, and the Pitcairn Borough made the Park Building available on short notice for our meeting. Our Circles folks helped us move our office to a room made available at the Pitcairn Assembly of God. The town pulling together have made a challenging situation much more pleasant, though still challenging.

Our work to combat poverty continues and expands even in the midst of adversity.

This Christmas, would you consider making a donation in honor or in memory of a loved one as a Christmas gift? It is a gift that keeps on giving as our folks achieve such things as getting jobs, completing their GEDs, entering college, settling debts with the IRS, keeping payment schedules for fines, staying with a budget, etc. We continue to see hope springing up in their lives as they work toward their goals.

Thanks for your support in the past, and for considering your continuing support.


Hi Folks.

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!


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Organization Information

Center Avenue United Methodist Circles (TM) Initiative

Location: Pitcairn, PA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Center Avenue United Methodist Circles (TM) Initiative
Project Leader:
Cynthia Bloise
Rev. Dr.
Pitcairn, PA United States

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