Shaping Neighborhood Connectedness with a Circle

Good Samaritan Ministries
Neighborhood Connections/Circles

What do you get when you bring together people from different racial and economic backgrounds to work on goals and build relationships? Circles. Good Samaritan Ministries recently implemented Circles®, a national movement aimed at ending poverty in communities one family at a time as part of our Neighborhood Connections program.

Neighborhood Connections is a community development initiative that Good Samaritan Ministries has begun in 6 local neighborhoods, with the goal of strengthening communities by bringing people together around common passions and concerns. Circles® entered the equation as a way of helping families living on low incomes to move from economic stability (just getting by), to economic mobility.

One of the ways that Circles® helps people to accomplish this goal is by grouping Circle Leaders, the individuals or families with low income, with Circle Allies, supportive community members, who will walk with them as they work on their goals. The Circles® Community then becomes both wide and deep. This is particularly helpful for Leaders, who often have goals that will take time to achieve.

One such Leader is Maria. She is a single mom, currently working part-time at a bagel shop while she works with an employment coach in order to assess her skills for future job opportunities. Her ultimate goal is to find work that she would be happy doing for a long time, ideally at the local hospital. While she is going through her career coaching, her Allies are encouraging her to keep up the good work at her job at the bagel shop. This is very important for Maria, as sometimes her hours are unreliable, and she feels underappreciated. She also has budgeting goals, and hopes that her Allies will be able to help her stay on track by providing accountability. One of Maria’s Allies talks about the importance of Circles® by saying, “I like the idea of encouraging people to live their full lives.”

Circles® isn’t just working to help individuals create better lives for themselves, it is also fostering a sense of community. Because Circles® is a part of Good Samaritan’s Neighborhood Connections, the majority of Circle Leaders and Circle Allies live or work in the same neighborhood. When they leave the weekly meetings, they still have the opportunity to bump into each other at the store, walking the dog, or at community events. Maria and her Allies only live a few blocks away from each other. They even go to the same church. When people see each other in multiple contexts, they get to know each other better and when we form more intentional relationships with people in our community, our neighborhood becomes a more connected place.

One thought on “Shaping Neighborhood Connectedness with a Circle

  1. Great program, amazing results, and now part of building the fabric of neighborhood relationships too! Terrific!


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