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Program to locate in Salem City

By Josh Bird

Community Action Services and Food Bank is proud to be opening a new Circles site in Salem.

Circles Utah Valley is a community initiative that creates a network of support and resources for individuals and families who desire to overcome poverty. Experienced individuals from the community volunteer to meet weekly and provide a “circle” of friendship for those who are seeking to become self-reliant. The program is already a great success in Provo and Orem.

Salem Circles Coach Jessica Awbrey said she is eager to make this opportunity more accessible to those in south Utah County. “This is such a great program and I’m excited to work with families who are trying move towards financial stability,” she said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14 percent of families in Utah County are living in poverty. Many of these families include those who are actively seeking employment or who are working full-time but are not able to make ends meet. As individuals strive to overcome these challenges, research shows that it takes more than an increase in finances to become self-reliant.

Circles is seeking volunteers with seasoned family or professional experience to befriend individuals who are working to overcome poverty. These volunteers, called Allies, will join with local families weekly as part of the Circles Initiative for 12 to 18 months as they work to become self-reliant. Dinner and child care will be provided at each meeting.

Janet Christianson, a Provo Circles volunteer, said she enjoys helping and encouraging the participants and celebrating their success. “There is great satisfaction working with someone, seeing them make progress toward their goals,” Christianson said.

In addition, the organization is in need of child care volunteers and meal donations. All volunteers are required to undergo training and pass a background check.

To volunteer with Circle Utah Valley, contact Kanai at [email protected] or 801-691-5215. For more information, visit