Life in Circles
Your life is comprised of circles. As the center, you’ve been influenced by the groups and networks that surround you. Some circles, your family for instance, you were born info. Others you grew into over time as you became a part of neighborhoods, schools, and teams. Still others were intentionally cultivated by you when you sought out colleagues, mentors and associations. These people and groups have likely served as your trusted voices.
Have you ever wondered where you would be without the influence of your circles? How life could have been different without them? Would you have fared as well when you weathered a storm? Would you be where you are today?
None of us had an ounce of control over what circles we were born into. Geography, family, race, culture and socio-economic status were all out of our control. However, as we grow and mature, we have choice in who surrounds us. We decide what voices we will allow to speak into our lives. There is wisdom in selecting positive, encouraging people to command a place of influence. We benefit from having a circle that cheers for us, and that also raises the bar to remind us of our potential.
Circles RVA is building this type of empowering community for Richmond families. As part of a national network, Circles breaks the cycle of poverty by connecting two groups of people across socioeconomic lines:
Circle Leaders are strong, motivated individuals who are ready, willing and able to move out of poverty with social support from their community.
Volunteer Allies make an intentional commitment to build a relationship with a Circle Leader. Allies play the role of cheerleader and accountability partner.
This volunteer-centric organization is intentionally building and expanding social networks for Richmond families who are surviving with a lack of resources. “Resources” often correlate to economic measures but also include intangibles such as a lack of emotional support and/or upwardly mobile social connections.
As Tristan Calridge outlines in Social Capital and Poverty Alleviation: If your social contacts don’t have the information, skills, techniques, equipment, resources, finance, social networks, etc. you require, then capital cannot be mobilized. They cannot give or share what they do not possess.
And so…Circles RVA works to develop, expand and leverage social capital for families, many living with generational poverty, who do not have access to this vital resource.
You have amassed meaningful skills, experiences and relationships that shaped your life. These intangibles are a RESOURCE. Not only are they a resource, they can be SHARED to benefit a family navigating the complex climb out of poverty.
I have the pleasure of walking beside someone who is working hard to forge a path upward. I listen and encourage, watching her confidence and problem-solving skills grow. I’d like to think I am a resource to her, providing strategic planning support. I’ve been blessed by the many people who have impacted me over the years. This is a chance to pay it forward. — Valena Dixon, Volunteer Ally
Becoming an Ally is a unique opportunity to connect with someone whose life experiences may be different than yours. There is a true sense of purpose in leveraging your accumulated knowledge and networks to embolden another. Allies become someone’s circle of influence which leads to a lasting impact on an individual, their family and generations to come. There is no better return on investment for your time!
Circles RVA’s next Ally training class begins online this May. All Ally training and activities will continue to be conducted online until all pandemic-related health and safety restrictions are lifted. Contact Kristin Blalock, Community Coordinator, for more information. firstname.lastname@example.org 804-245-1469