SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL
Pastor Andrew Dickinson of First Presbyterian Church was welcomed to the Kiwanis Club of Douglas County by President Trent Wilson.
Pastor Dickinson talked to the club about Circles in Douglasville.
Circles is an effective poverty reduction initiative that revolves around building relationships across income lines. While middle-income and high-income families enjoy networking through their jobs, schools and neighborhoods, families living in poverty rarely develop such contacts.
Many who live in poverty are hardworking and motivated, so when a circle of support forms around them, advice is offered, contacts are shared, and the fears that keep people in poverty start to disappear.
Circles changes communities by volunteers and participants growing and learning together. While participants navigate their way to prosperity, volunteers get an in-depth education on the culture of poverty.
Participants’ successes and challenges are analyzed at monthly meetings with community leaders. This new understanding enables a community to identify, discuss, and often resolve the barriers that keep people in poverty.
Many communities are using Circles because the results are so encouraging. After 18 months, those who remain in the program achieve an average of 71% increase in their income.