Local Circles program forms to combat poverty
by Anna Oakes
Hospitality House seeks community members willing to help others climb out of poverty as part of a new program called Circles of the High Country.
The program joins 72 other Circles programs across the country that recruit mentors, called "allies," to offer friendship and guidance to individuals or families who are motivated to improve their lives.
Participants attend 12 to 16 weekly training sessions, where they learn what it takes to get ahead, set goals and develop plans for achieving those goals. Ongoing meetings provide support and in-depth information on topics Circle leaders identify as important to them, such as financial planning, job training, interview skills, how to find safe and affordable housing and access to realistic health care options.
Developed by Nancy Reigel, Tina Krause and Susan Jones, the Circles of the High Country program recently commenced with the hiring of Chatty Majoni, who spent three years doing community development work in Kenya prior to relocating to the High Country.
Majoni said 40 percent of the Circles participants would come from the Hospitality's transitional housing residents, while 60 percent would come from referrals from other area agencies.
"We're looking for people who are ready to make the change," she said.
Circles of the High Country plans six information sessions during the week of Sept. 16 to 21 for those interested in serving as mentors and others interested in supporting the program.
"We ask each mentor and participant to make a commitment to 18 months together. We really want that long-term support," Majoni said. "You don't do a lot of life change in a couple of months."
For more information, call Majoni at (828) 264-1237, ext. 115.