Circle leaders meet their matches

By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Apr 02, 2014
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Circle Leader Ricky Auler, from left, shakes hands with his new allies Marilyn Rowe, George Thompson and Frank Grice.

A circle formed inside Longs Chapel United Methodist Church on Thursday evening brought together 11 Circles of Hope participants with their volunteer mentors during a matching ceremony.

As all the participants, or "circle leaders," sat in a large circle with volunteers, Circles of Hope Coordinator Millie Hershenson matched up each leader with two or three volunteers who became their "allies." The match ups were a surprise, which resulting in cheering, handshakes and plenty of hugs once the names were revealed.

Circles of Hope is a program that helps families get completely out of poverty and helps them achieve economic stability. The participants go through six weeks of training in which they learn how to become self sufficient, and then they graduate and begin making changes in their own lives. After graduating, the are assigned mentors, or "allies," who offer them guidance and encouragement along the way.

"When you want to make a big change in your life, you need to maximize your support system," Hershenson said during the ceremony. "So tonight we're going to maximize everyone's support system by assigning allies."

After the ceremony, the circle leaders sat down with their new allies and began their first session together.