A plan to fight poverty

Contributing writer

Something very exciting happened this last week! Not many people witnessed it, but a few of us did. The first meeting of the guiding coalition for Circles of Marion County happened last Thursday.

A couple years ago a group met in the balcony of Marion Presbyterian Church to read and study Richard Stearns’ “The Hole in Our Gospel: What does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World.” We met for a few months to talk about this book and at the end of that study a few of the people in the group said, “What do we do now?” From there began a search for how we can address poverty in Marion County.

During that search we discovered Circles of Hope. Circles is an international initiative that empowers people living in poverty to set achievable goals for their lives and surrounds them with people who can encourage them to achieve those goals.

After much discussion, thought, and investigation we determined that Circles was the correct initiative to bring to Marion County. Circles of Marion County was formed and the goal of Circles of Marion County is to eradicate poverty in our county. Currently we are a group made up of people from Hillsboro, Lincolnville, and Marion.

Last Thursday night, the question, “What do we do now?” met its answer in the first training session of the guiding coalition. For the next 10 weeks, we will be preparing ourselves by going through Bridges Out of Poverty training. Then in the New Year, Circle leaders and ally training will begin.

Those of us involved now believe that Circles will significantly help our county to become the best county it can be. In the next couple weeks or months you may be asked to become an ally, to sponsor a family going through Circles leaders training, or your organization, business, or civic group may be asked to prepare a meal for our weekly meetings. We cannot do this on our own.

The only chance for the success of Circles is that people throughout the county support the Circles of Marion County initiative as it gets going here. Or maybe you are someone who is tired of just getting by each month and you are ready to start getting ahead, Circles may be for you.

If you’ve noticed the amount of free and reduced-price lunches increasing in our schools, if you’ve seen or heard the food at the food bank gets handed out as quickly as it comes in, or if this column is the first time you’ve been made aware of poverty in Marion County you may have asked, “What do we do now?” Circles of Marion County is what we do now.

This is an initiative that has a track record of being successful in other places, including Harvey and McPherson counties, and we believe it will be successful here. Join us in making Marion County great. For more information or to get involved you can contact me at the church, (620) 382-3257.

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