Breaking poverty’s cycle with Circles

In 1969, the group Friends of Distinction released the song “Going in Circles.” Isaac Hayes covered the song in 1971, then Esther Phillips in 1986 followed by Luther Vandross in 1994. The song has a slow, trudging, soulful tone to it–a tone that was carried on by each singer. It’s a tone that is, in fact, similar to the tone of poverty. Poverty is just as slow, just as trudging, just as emotional (soulful); but the pain of poverty transcends any song no matter how well written.

Nevertheless, Voice of Calvary Ministries believes that it has found a solution to poverty. The name of this solution is, ironically, Circles.

Circles is a national program that was created by Move the Mountain Leaderhip Center.  It is defined as “an innovative model to end poverty”  works by partnering volunteers and community leaders with families in need.  The result is a program that successfully builds the social and financial capital of those in poverty by building relationships that cross all economic levels.

If you think this program is one that seeks to patronize the poor, think again. Families in need are considered Team Leaders and families who seek to help are considered Allies.  This is how it works: interested families/persons in need enroll in the program’s 15-week Getting Ahead Class.  This class defines the causes of poverty and outlines ways to get out of it.

Attendees who are interested in taking further steps to get out of poverty are designated as Team Leaders. Team Leaders meet with Allies at least twice a month and up to four times a month. Two of the meetings involve all Team Leaders and Allies in the program. The remaining two are arranged by the Team Leaders and are one-on-one sessions with their Allies. This structured Team Leader/Ally process lasts 18 months, but the positive relationships created can last a lifetime.

After the process is over, the goal is for Team Leaders to be well out of poverty and on their way to success.

If you believe that addressing poverty requires community support and you are willing to invest a little time, then Circles is for you.  In fact, you can get involved as soon as this Saturday. VOCM is hosting its 2nd Bridges Out of Poverty session this Saturday, February 5th, at 9 a.m.  The event will take place at VOCM’s offices at 531 W. Capitol Street.

Bridges Out of Poverty is the primer to Circles. Cynthia Hobbs, the manager of Circles at VOCM, explains it as a way to “understand the nuts & bolts of Circles.” If you are someone who deals with those in poverty, wants to help those in poverty, or currently in poverty, then attending the Bridges out of Poverty program is a must!

The training is FREE, but registration is required. To register, contact Cynthia Hobbs at 601.421.4680 or You can also fill out this registration form and fax/email it to Cynthia at 601.944.9571. (You can also view the flyer for this event here)

Join Circles and help break the cycle of poverty.


Voice of Calvary Ministries is the Mississippi affiliate of Circles. The Connecticut affiliate of Circles has produced a great video about the program. Feel free to check it out below.

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