PARKERSBURG - Helping people out of poverty by focusing on their goals and dreams is the goal of the Circles Campaign of the Mid-Ohio Valley.
The first class of leaders has graduated.
Leaders are five individuals in poverty who have completed a 12-week course through the Circle Campaign of the Mid-Ohio Valley to help them set goals and a plan to achieve those goals, said John Ruehl, part-time pastor of Beulah Humble Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth and Circles Campaign of the Mid-Ohio Valley coordinator.
"We kicked off with the first class on Sept. 20 and since then we have just completed a 12-week class working to expose those in poverty to different ways of looking at the world between economic classes to see how they look at the world differently," he said. "We encourage them to use the middle class way of working toward goals."
Ruehl said they work to get to the point where they can plan ahead and think about their goals instead of trying to just pay the bills to get through the day.
"We also cover some bias and barriers that exist naturally if one is in poverty," he said. "You are concerned about getting through the day - the tyranny of the moment."
Ruehl said the first group of leaders has gone through class and they have written a story for themselves and a personal action plan identifying goals and steps for reaching their goals.
"Now we are working on training middle and upper income people to be allies for those in poverty," Ruehl said. "The first Bridges Out of Poverty class began Dec. 1 and the next stage is Ally 101 training from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 26, at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church."
Ruehl said allies and the leaders will look at barriers those in poverty typically face.
Ruehl said 30 people have been enrolled in the ally training. The second cycle of circle leader training is to begin Feb. 21 at Stephenson United Methodist Church and the next group of allies after that.
After the training the allies and leaders will be matched up to begin their work. He said each leader will be matched with two to four allies and they will work together for 18 months.
"We know you can't end poverty overnight but you can make headway on goals and review goals at that time," he said.
Ruehl said five graduated Thursday and 60 attended the ceremony.
"They are not matched," he said. "We are starting the process of working to see who gravitates to whom."
Ruehl said the first project will be to work on a book of resources available to those in poverty.
"We know there are different agencies who have resource books to explain what is available, but they are written for those who provide services, not for those receiving services," he said.