St. Luke's United Methodist Church

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4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Road
Orlando, FL 32819
407.876.4991

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Circles

 

The Circles® Campaign is a national, transformational approach to reduce poverty that partners volunteers and community leaders with individuals and families wanting to make the journey out of poverty.

Circle Leaders, folks with ambition who face barriers that leave them with low incomes, set goals based on their unique needs and skills. Together with supportive volunteers called Circle Allies, they cultivate a friendship across social class and create a plan to achieve economic stability. The Circle Allies, in turn learn about the realities and barriers that exist for families in poverty.

As Circle Leaders make strides toward stability, they work together with the support of the whole Circles Community to raise awareness of their lived experiences as well as identify and eliminate obstacles that perpetuate poverty.

 

 

Circles Information Session
DATE: Tuesday, October 27, December 1 or 15
TIME: 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

 

 

 

Circles Community Overview Information

What is the Circles Concept?

In Circles, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to become economically stable. To accomplish this, we build intentional relationships between people from all walks of life to help individuals build resources to achieve their unique goals and dreams leading to economic improvement. Circles engages entire communities in owning the solution to becoming more economically stable and the issue of poverty by inspiring and equipping families and communities to thrive.Each Matched Circle consists of an individual working to become more economically stable (Circle Leader) who is matched with two or three middle or upper middle income individuals (Allies). Allies and Leaders agree to become friends, learn from each other, set personal SMART goals, build resources,and impact the community. Weekly Meetings of all the Matched Circles serve several purposes.

Circles Weekly Meetings provide the following opportunities:
(1) To grow friendships in Circles Overview Modelwhich Circle Leaders and Allies can walk together and thereby support and empower each other to reach individual and self-determined goals for becoming more economically stable one family at a time.

(2) To hear presentations from which the entire Circles community, as well as the local community, can learn.

(3) To address systemic obstacles that keep families trapped in poverty. In short, Circles is a model for family stabilization that also supports community transformation.

What is a Circle Leader?

In our community, even the people with the most ambition and drive can find themselves in tough situations that leave them with limited resources or a low-income. We call these folks Circle Leaders, individuals or families working hard to become financially stable, but struggling to cover all their expenses. And while a Circle Leader may feel stuck, we know that every person has gifts and skills that can flourish with the right amount of support.

 

Becoming a Circle Leader is a four-step process that involves being open to new perspectives and positive change:

Step 1: Learn about Circles

There are several ways you can learn more about our unique approach to helping families become financially stable and reducing poverty in our community.

We will have an Information Session on October 27, December 1 or 15, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

You may sign up below.

Step 2: Complete an Application

Once you have learned what it means to become a Circle Leader, you will need to fill out an application. After you complete the form, a Circles member will contact you to schedule an interview.

To fill out a Circle Leader Application, click on the button below.

Step 3: Participate in an Interview

After reviewing your application, one of our Circles members will contact you to schedule a phone or in-person interview.  Our interviews are relaxed and easy.  We want to learn more about you and your dreams.  And you may ask questions to ensure that the program is a good fit for you.

Step 4: Engage in Training

Complete Circle Leader Training, a twelve-week class which will empower you to become your own problem solver. This training guides you through the process of evaluating and understanding what resources you have and what resources you need to build. You will focus on creating a plan and developing goals and a future story for yourself and your family. The choices are yours to make as you are the expert on your own life. You know if you need help with a budget, more schooling or a better job. You know what gets in your way. The Circles program helps you achieve the dreams you have for your family’s financial well-being.

What is a Circle Ally?

What do you do when you see that many other people have not had the same opportunities as you? You become a Circle Ally and form an intentional friendship with an individual or family working toward economic stability. Circle Allies join Circle Leaders in their quest to have enough resources, relationships and purpose to thrive. Through these new relationships Circle Allies will also increase their own awareness of the complexities of poverty. Circles provides an opportunity to use this developing understanding of poverty to advocate within the community to change the systemic barriers that prevent many from becoming economically stable.

Circle Ally Role Description

 

Becoming a Circle Ally is a four-step process that involves being open to increasing one’s understanding of poverty and to personally reflecting on how an individual becomes a friend who empowers and supports the Circle Leader on his or her self-directed journey out of poverty. Here are the steps:

 Step 1: Learn about Circles

There are several ways you can learn more about our unique approach to helping families become financially stable and reducing poverty in our community.

We will have an Information Session on October 27, December 1 or 15, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

You may sign up below.

Step 2: Complete an Application

Once you have learned what it means to become a Circle Ally, you will need to fill out an application. After you complete the form, a Circles member will contact you to schedule an interview.

To fill out a Circle Ally Application, click on the button below.

Step 3: Participate in an Interview

After reviewing your application, one of our Circles members will contact you to schedule a phone or in-person interview.  Our interviews are relaxed and easy.  We want to learn more about you and your desire to become involved in Circles.  And you may ask questions to ensure that the program is a good fit for you.

Step 4: Engage in Training

Complete online Circle Ally Training, a six session, self-paced training that will help you understand the mission and model of Circles, increase your poverty IQ, learn how to be a successful Ally and know the expectations for this role.

What is the Circles Meeting Schedule?

Circles During COVID-19, what’s different

Circles meets every Tuesday for the Circles Weekly Meetings. Each Tuesday has a specific purpose with FREE dinner and a FREE child/youth program.

Day/Time: Tuesdays, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Location: West Orange Church of Christ (1450 Daniels Road, Winter Garden, 34787)

 

1st Tuesday:
Big View Meeting
OR
Ally & Leader Support and Resource Teams

Big View Meetings address issues that affect the whole community and are OPEN to the public.***  Circles members work with community leaders and other residents to find solutions to barriers that are keeping people in poverty.

 Ally & Leader Support Meetings provide a space for Leaders and Allies to learn and grow in their respective Circles roles.  Allies and Leaders meet in separate groups and share progress, concerns and suggestions related to their Circles role and experience.

 Resource Team Meetings support the operation of Circles. Volunteers meet to discuss and implement innovative ways to make Circles even better for both Circles members and the surrounding community. For a list of the specific resource teams and their descriptions, click on the:

 

2nd & 4th Tuesdays:
Matched Circles Nights

 Matched Circles Nights are relational and progress focused for both the Circle Leader and their Allies. Leaders and Allies come together in their small groups to discuss updates on personal goals, to work on relationship building activities and to address any current or new obstacles.

 

3rd Tuesday:
Community Learning

Community Learning Nights are educational and an opportunity for visitors to learn alongside the Circles Community. Presentations or workshops are held by community partners, Circles Staff, Circle Leaders and/or Allies to engage and inform the Circles Community about important topics such as finances, employment, housing, health and relationship skills. These meetings are OPEN to the public.***

  

5th Tuesday:
Community Building/Family Fun Night

Community Building/Family Fun events strengthen and enlighten the entire Circles Community. An example of this type of event is our Teach-A-Skill, Learn-A-Skill night where members from the Circles Community teach fun and practical skills at various stations as other members visit the stations to learn, fellowship and enjoy the mini presentations.

 

***If you wish to visit us on the Tuesday nights that are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, please contact Beth Witten so that we can include you in our dinner and child/youth program count***

Does Circles Work?

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando, FL serves as the Host Organization for Circles Winter Garden.

The inaugural Circles cohort officially began their Circles journey in 2014. Since then, 6 more cohorts of incredible individuals and families have begun their journey to economic stability through the Circles Initiative. In the past several years, Circle Leaders, with the support and friendship of dedicated Allies, volunteers and staff, have reached significant goals.

Take a look at this snapshot of the
Circles Winter Garden Community and our achievements.

How Else Can I Help?


Choose the “Restoring Hope” fund from the dropdown,
and add “Circles” to the notes.

Service Oriented Volunteer

You do not have to become a Circle Ally to support folks as they move out of poverty. If you have a special skill like auto-mechanic, tutoring, computer repair, or accounting that you’d like to offer for Circle Leaders who may need your expertise please let us know. All skills welcome.

Circles Community Member Information

Circles Financial Programs

The Circles Financial Programs have been established by teams of Circle Leaders, Circle Allies and other area experts through Circles Central Florida and are specifically available for Circle Leaders that have been active in Circles for at least 6 months. 

Education Grant Program

The Circles Education Grant Program serves to provide a source of financial assistance for Circle Leaders who would like to further their education or gain a certification to enhance their ability to perform at their current job or to qualify for a new job. This may include, but is not limited to, funding for tuition, supplies, materials, tools, certification fees, exam fees, etc. This program is intended to facilitate efforts of the Circle Leaders to increase their employment or ability to be employed so that they can improve their economic stability. 

Short-Term Emergency Loan Program

The Circles Short-Term Emergency Loan Program serves to provide a source of interest-free financial assistance for Circles participants when other community resources are unavailable or impractical for the situation. This may include, but is not limited to funding for home maintenance, car repairs, medical expenses not covered by insurance, etc. This program is intended to support Circle Leaders in their efforts to avoid moving into further crisis and a downward spiral, so that they can improve financial stability. 

Credit Restoration Loan Program

The Circles Credit Restoration Loan Program serves to provide a source of low interest financial assistance for Circles participants to consolidate debt, improve credit scores and/or access lower interest financing for larger purchases. This program is intended to assist Circle Leaders in acquiring needed goods or services that will increase household income or reduce debt so that they can improve financial stability.

Matched Savings Program

The Matched Savings Program is a financial support program for Circle Leaders. The goal of the program is to provide matched savings funds for Circle Leaders with the intent of helping individuals establish a habit of savings; plan and fund future goals; and create a reserve that will be available for emergencies, holidays, and unexpected expenses.

Other Training Information

Bridges out of Poverty

This is a research based course designed to help people

better understand how socioeconomic class has affected them. Bridges covers the “hidden rules” of class (poverty, middle, and wealthy) and helps people from all walks of life to better understand and communicate with people from a diversity of backgrounds.

Bridges also assists participants with understanding how to suspend their assumptions so as to begin building meaningful relationships across socioeconomic lines.

Whether you are serving an hour a year or 10 hours a week, in our community or elsewhere, this training is for you!

This is required training for Circle Allies.

Upcoming Date: TBA

Time: TBA.

Location: TBA

 

Facilitators: 
Mariam Mengistie*, Executive Director of Missions
Lynette Fields*, Executive Director of Community Transformation

*nationally certified trainers through aha! Process, Inc. (ahaprocess.com)

  Cost of Poverty Experience (C.O.P.E.)

Cost of Poverty Experience (C.O.P.E.) 

The Cost of Poverty Experience is designed to help participants begin to understand what it might be like to live as a typical low-income family in the U.S. It is a two hour simulation and debriefing that provides a brief glimpse into what it feels like to walk for a month in the shoes of families trying their best to just survive with incomes between 100% and 200% of the federal poverty level. C.O.P.E. is an invaluable experience for people who, instead of merely talking about poverty as a problem, choose to be part of the solution to end poverty. This training is appropriate for middle school age and older individuals and for everyone serving locally.  

Led by nationally trained facilitators through Think Tank, Inc.

Upcoming Date: TBA

Time: TBA

Location: TBA

A recent Cost of Poverty Experience was featured on the Project Community Program on WESH 2. Click the link below to view.

 

 

If you are interested in information regarding hosting the Cost of Poverty Experience (C.O.P.E.), please click on the button below.

 

 

 

 

 

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