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Circles of Transformation working to end poverty in Dothan

A big community initiative is underway... It's an effort to stop the cycle of poverty and build relationships The Circles of Transformation is a national organization looking to expand here in Dothan.
Circles Coordinator Laurel Blackwell discusses her organization's initiative and efforts to bring in volunteers in Dothan.
Circles Coordinator Laurel Blackwell discusses her organization's initiative and efforts to bring in volunteers in Dothan.
Andy Gartman, a Circles ally and local pastor, discusses the rewards of volunteering and the positive impact on people in poverty.
Andy Gartman, a Circles ally and local pastor, discusses the rewards of volunteering and the positive impact on people in poverty.
Circles operates in 80 communties around the U.S., moving families out of poverty and into higher income brackets.
Circles operates in 80 communties around the U.S., moving families out of poverty and into higher income brackets.
"To be a responsible citizen in this community, and to make a difference in strengthening not only your own life, but the life of the entire community, it's really great,” said Circles of Transformation Volunteer Ally Andy Gartman.

A fairly new initiative with 80 sites across the country, circles is a way to help families wanting to move out of poverty.

Circle leaders are people living in poverty, the two to three middle income people helping them achieve their goals are called circle allies.  The initiative people of different backgrounds and income levels together.

"Seeing those differences and being able to understand those, helped us to build that bridge between myself as an ally and the other allies in the group and those who are our circle leaders,” Gartman said.

It's a network of people who would otherwise not know each other, and they say the friendships are priceless.

"Families are getting jobs, getting out of debt, getting off public assistance, they're getting health insurance, and getting reliable transportation,” said Circles Coordinator Laurel Blackwell.  “They're working out life goals that will make life better for themselves and the next generation.”

Reports show 17.5% of all people and 29% of children in Houston County are living below poverty.

"The goal is for it to be interdenominational, to invite people of all walks of life to be part of this initiative as both volunteers, families in poverty and families that like to support those families and their new goals,” Blackwell said.


Each week, the circles community comes together for a meal and a meeting, and it's a circle they hope will continue to grow in all directions.

For more information on how you can help, you can visit the website, www.circlesusa.org, or call 334-524-3652.

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