By Hannah Lester
Circles Opelika is empowering residents within the metropolis to take a look at their funds and make concrete modifications to enhance their monetary conditions.
“Our aim is to get households to no less than 200% of the federal poverty guideline,” stated Regina Meadows, director of Circles Opelika
Circles is a nationwide program that Opelika determined to embrace within the metropolis, Meadows stated. It was developed from the youth schooling and household activity pressure, a bunch from the Envision Opelika Basis.
The mannequin for Opelika’s chapter, nevertheless, was primarily based on Troup County’s present group, Meadows stated.
Initially the group had bother recruiting members.
“I feel the issue was we had been going out and we had been saying ‘this can be a poverty-prevention program’ or a ‘poverty-reduction program’ and poverty, I feel the phrase ‘poverty’ itself was actually deafening to individuals,” Meadows stated. “As a result of all people interprets poverty in a different way.”
So, as an alternative of referring to the group with the phrase ‘poverty,’ Meadows stated as an alternative it was referred to with numbers.
“Individuals don’t at all times affiliate themselves with that time period,” she stated. “… So, whenever you begin speaking numbers then it turns into extra actual as a result of, ‘I can affiliate myself with a quantity vs. the time period, as a result of I don’t appear like what I feel poverty appears like.’”
The primary group to attend, and graduate from, Circles Opelika included 17 girls and one man.
One of many graduates, Valerie Canady, stated she attended this system so she might study extra about it and advocate it to others.
Nonetheless, upon taking it, she stated she discovered extra about what poverty actually means.
“I ended up getting blessed by understanding what poverty was all about,” Canady stated. “My idea of poverty wasn’t what I assumed it was.”
She stated she is now a special individual than she was earlier than Circles Opelika.
An Common Assembly:
Each time individuals come to a Circles assembly, a meal is offered. Not solely that, however so is childcare.
After consuming, group members take part in ‘New and Good,’ Meadows stated.
“For those who’re in a sure revenue and also you’re working day-in, day-out, you simply type of get inundated with issues you must do,” she stated. “And so that you don’t actually cease a variety of occasions and concentrate on a few of the good issues which can be taking place in your life … what has occurred new? What has occurred good? And we rejoice these new and good. And typically it may be one thing so simple as, ‘I made it to work on time.’”
Following ‘New and Good,’ is the precise Circles program. Many occasions this contains members in the neighborhood, equivalent to a profession heart skilled or a dietician.
Not each dialogue relies solely round finance — maintaining a healthy diet as an example, is included in this system.
“It’s a total-holistic strategy,” Meadows stated. “… It’s all relative. It’s actually a behavioral change. We would like you to consider your entire life.”
This system incorporates allies. Allies are these in the neighborhood who dwell above the federal poverty guideline who might help households under the rule by this system.
The aim is to have individuals graduate from Circles and return as allies, Meadows stated.
Barbara Griffin is a latest graduate of the Circles Opelika program who hopes to change into an ally sooner or later.
“This system was greater than useful,” Griffin stated. “I discovered extra in that program, I really feel like, than I’ve my whole life.”
Canady has additionally returned as an ally.
“What do you must lose,” she stated. “As a result of the place you are actually, you’re simply surviving. You need to embrace a life-style of thriving.”
— to opelikaobserver.com