County anti-poverty group ready to train volunteers

The trainees are getting ready to become the trainers as Circles Marion County, a grassroots organization taking steps to end poverty, prepares to start local classes from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thurs?day, Jan. 10.

After more than a year of meetings, workshops and fundraising events, a core group is ready to begin, said Jackie Volbrecht, director.

?Circles has established a guiding coalition (Mad About Poverty),? Volbrecht said, ?consisting of 25 members from Hillsboro, Marion and Burdick.?

This group, she said, plans to transition to Thursday night meetings for weekly get-togethers.

According to Volbrecht, the coalition has five teams to include the resource team, big view team, recruitment team, economic stability team and community team.

?We have established three of the five teams necessary to do the work of Circles,? she said.

The first three include the recruitment team with Linda Ogden and Jeff Wintermote chairing; the community team chaired by Pam Bowers and Erica Richmond and the resource team chaired by Harder and Kevin Fruechting.

?We will recruit and establish the economic stability and big view teams during 2013,? she said.

In addition to getting the guiding coalition under way, Volbrecht said, they have also interviewed and invited 10 people?seven women and three men?to join the first Circle Leader Training classes.

?Those 10 people have a total of 16 children among them who will also be a part of our program,? she said.

The two-hour class will continue every Thursday for 10 weeks. Graduation is on the 11th week and on the 12th week Circles begins with allies, she said.

Allies are people who learn about the Circle leader?s goals and how they can be of help to them.

?Allies will be asked to commit to meeting with their Circle leaders once a month on the first Thursday of each month,? Volbrecht said.

?Each meeting consists of a family meal,? she said, ?which is donated by members of our community. Then classes begin for the children and for our Circle Leader trainees.?

Coaches or co-facilitators for the first set of classes is Lange and Susan Carlson with everyone meeting at Marion Presbyterian Church, 610 E. Lawrence St.

What is Circles?

The premise behind the initiative of Circles, Volbrecht explained, is to involve the entire community in breaking down barriers so that families who want a better life are empowered to achieve it.

Five months ago, Volbrecht and two other members of Circles, attended a four-day training session in Hesston and came back with a better understanding of what the group is.

?One woman from generational poverty told us Circles saved her life,? Volbrecht said.

Circles volunteers attempt to provide a ?life spark? by assisting people through non-judgmental friendship and honest communication, she said.

?One panelist told us she now can see things more clearly and what used to be obstacles are now challenges,? Volbrecht said. ?Some were born with a silver spoon in their mouths, but she told us she was born with chalk, through no fault of her own.?

For some people, poverty is situational?events occur that create a severe economic impact. For others, it means overcoming a generational environment.

Help is needed

Whether someone is willing to prepare food for the weekly meetings or offer their services in other ways, Volbrecht said everyone?s help is needed.

?If you wish to prepare a meal, call Pam (Bowers),? Volbrecht said. ?Her number is 620-382-0495 or e-mail

Someone might want to explore the possibility of becoming an ally, she said, and if so, call Ogden at 620-382-4559 or

?We need the participation and support of the entire community,? Volbrecht said. ?Some ways to help include furnishing a family meal, becoming an ally to a Circle leader, providing a program for the community meeting or joining the guiding coalition.?

For information about donating to help support the work of Circles, call Harder at 620-947-2510 or

All donations are tax deductible, she said.






























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