Hello there, Jon here once again. I’m going to turn our blog over to Zachary Shay for a guest blog post. Zachary is working as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Circles Initiative as a VISTA Member. He’s writing to the RU community to describe upcoming volunteer opportunities and to spread the word on the good work Circles provides our community. Please give Zachary a call if you’re interested in finding out more about their program and any volunteer opportunities. Here’s Zachary…
The Dubuque Circles Initiative is a grassroots organization, modeled on the national Circles model, which uses community and relationship building to help people in our community out of poverty. Members of our community who have been living in generational poverty will go through an 18 week course called Getting Ahead, which examines how poverty impacts their everyday lives and exposes the hidden rules of the middle class.
Once they have graduated this class, they join the Circles Initiative which matches the community members making the transition out of poverty (now called Circle Leaders) with volunteer allies to create a circle of support. Together they work to set and achieve goals and build relationships to help the Circle Leaders make their way out of poverty.
The Circles Initiative is fairly new to Dubuque, we launched Circles here only 3 years ago, and we are in need of some new volunteers to help grow our organization! If you are interested in helping people in your community transition out of poverty, we have plenty of opportunities for you to donate your time to make an impact in the community!
There are 11 new potential Circle Leaders who will be graduating the Getting Ahead class in December. The Circles Initiative likes to match each Circle leader with between 2 and 4 allies depending on which allies will be able to help a circle leaders most. For example if a Circle leader is looking to be a home owner we would match them with one of our allies who has a network in the real estate business. Or if there is someone who is looking for a job as a Certified Nursing Assistant we would match them with members of the community who are connected in the health care field.
We are looking for skilled volunteers, even if you don’t know how your expertise could help someone in poverty, please come and check us out! We have a place for you! We need 25 to 35 new allies to match with this new class of Getting Ahead Graduates by January 2014!
Another great opportunity to volunteer with the Circles Initiative is with the Guiding Coalition. Since we are a grassroots organization, the volunteers have a large role to play in creating Circles and helping it function and grow. Much of the logistics of Circles is done by our volunteers in the Guiding Coalition. It is made up of 5 teams, each one with a specific goal.
One team, the Recruitment and Retention team, will go out into the community and do outreach and tell the community about Circles and bring in new volunteers. The second team, the Resource team, manages some of the financial resources that we have as well as connects Circle Leaders to the resources in the community that will help fulfill a specific need. The Community team secures meals for our weekly meetings as well as plans the schedule for the weekly meetings and collaborates with other teams to plan special events.
We have just added two new teams that are also seeking new volunteers. The Income and Education team organizes and runs what we call outcome circles which are groups of allies and circle leaders who are matched for a short time to achieve a specific goal such as passing the GED, getting a driver’s license or filing taxes for free.
The final team of the Guiding Coalition is the Big View team whose purpose it is to engage the community to break down barriers in the community that are keeping people from transitioning out of poverty.
If you are interested in any of these opportunities or would just want to learn more about what Circles does, either come to one of our weekly meetings at Prescott Elementary 5:30-8:00pm every Tuesday night, they are open to the public! We provide a meal and childcare! Or if you would like contact Zachary Shay at firstname.lastname@example.org or (563)690-6102.