The Shalom Project is seeking new applicants for its Circles Initiative through July 15.
Circles Winston-Salem (Circles WS) is an empowerment program designed to help individuals rise out of generational poverty.
Circle Leaders are individuals currently in poverty seeking a way out. They attend life skills classes for 12 weeks while creating a network of empowering relationships. This training enables Circle Leaders to assess their existing resources while developing new ones.
Circle Allies are typically middle class community members with stable incomes. Circle Allies are trained to build relationships across lines of differences through overcoming stereotypes and appreciating cultural diversity. Using the book “Building Bridges Out of Poverty” by Ruby Payne, Allies are coached in building supportive, empowering, reciprocal relationships with Circle Leaders.
Once Leaders and Allies complete training, they are matched to form a Circle. While Allies do not provide financial assistance to Circle Leaders, they meet on a weekly basis to help manage crises and bring stability as Leaders find and secure education and job opportunities.
Throughout this process, Circle Allies provide accountability and assistance in problem solving with Circle Leaders through a reciprocal relationship.
On May 15, Circles WS graduated its first class of six Circle Leaders. The graduation was held at The Center for Smart Financial Choices and featured speeches by each of the new Circle Leaders and special music by Big Ron Hunter, “the happiest Blues Man in America!” Circle Leader graduates were Lyndon Bray, Michael Dalton, Maria O’Neal, Jonathan Smith, Denise Terry and Kenneth Ward.
This month, Circle Leaders will be matched with Allies and begin the regular monthly cycle of support meetings. The Circles program lasts for 18 months.
Based on national statistics, individuals who have completed the 18 month long Circles program have seen their income increase 27 percent, dependence on government aid decrease 27 percent, and the value of their personal assets increase 88 percent.
Circles WS is sponsored by The Shalom Project, an interfaith non-profit organization. Individuals interested in learning more about the Shalom Project’s work with Circles WS may contact Carol Wilson or Lyn Boyd at 336-721-0606, or go to http://www.theshalomprojectnc.org/Circles-WS.html.