Circle of Care: Helping struggling families in Valley

Published 9:30 am Saturday, August 19, 2023

VALLEY — At a recent meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley, Michael Weiss talked about the Circle of Care’s continuing efforts to assist struggling families in the local area. He is the organization’s development director.

“In social work, you don’t always get to see the results, but you keep trying to make a difference,” he said.

He mentioned one situation where a local girl of high school age wanted to be in school but her mother wanted her to stay home and help raise her younger siblings.

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“Our YES program helped her,” Weiss said.

She was 17 when she was in it. She received training in personal finance. This taught her how to pay bills and to save some money. She had job training and earned her GED.

“This girl was highly motivated and went into our workforce training program.” Weiss  said. “She will have a full ride at Southern Union.”

Weiss said there was a growing number of situations like those of this young girl.

“We are seeing beautiful progress in people’s lives with programs like this,” he said. “I like to tell people that the Circle is a one-stop shop for social work. We do case management and help some families in emergency situations. We work with hundreds of local families every year.”

Weiss said the Circle’s move from the Shawmut community to Valley Medical Park had been beneficial to the organization.

“We are down by the river now and more people know where we are,” he said. “We are very fortunate to be where we are now.”

The Circle helps an average of 25 people earn their GED every years. This will help them get better-paying jobs.

“People with high school educations and higher make at least $7,000 a year more than those who don’t graduate,” Weiss said. “Many studies have shown that the more educated the population is, the better the local economy and the quality of life. Education provides a multiplier effect in any given community. It can translate into the millions.”

Weiss mentioned a situation where the Circle helped a young woman who was divorced from an abusive husband and had five children to support. It was difficult, but she went back to school to earn a four-year degree as a computer programmer. She figured that she needed to make around $35,000 a year to support her family. She went to a job interview, made good impression and was hired. When they told her they would pay her $50,000 a year, she couldn’t help but get emotional.

“She started crying,” Weiss said. “This surprised the job interviewer who had been most impressed with her skills. ‘If that’s not enough, we could offer you more,’ she was told. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘To me, that’s very generous.’”

“We work with real people who are leading real lives,” Weiss said. “We are helping families thrive. We appreciate the support we get from civic groups like the Kiwanis Club. I love telling people about our success stories. We receive a number of grants that help us continue the work we are doing.”

The Circle has the overall goal of making families happier, healthier and stronger. The organization provides services in employment and education, parenting, programs to help at risk youth, to promote human trafficking awareness and to offer relationship education. Every day the Circle works to make the Greater Valley Area and Chambers County a place where children are protected and loved, individuals are respected, families empowered and community is valued.