DSC_0030Several months ago, my wife, Fran, and I experienced the first Circles of Troup County graduation ceremony. We were so impressed with the stories of the graduates – many of whom have overcome tremendous obstacles just to achieve the title of “Circles graduate” – that we volunteered to help. Now, we are serving as allies and supporters of one of those graduates.

In the Circles program we do not have the traditional structure that you might expect where there are teachers, sponsors or mentors at the top and mentees or students at a subservient level. In this program there are quite appropriately circles and each graduate is at the center of a circle and are called the circle leader. The Circle leader is then surrounded by supporters, which we call allies, who volunteer to work alongside the leader to help them achieve their goals.

You may wonder why Fran and I took on this commitment. After all, we are retired. We should be enjoying life. Well, we are doing just that.

We found ourselves very concerned about our community and about those who live in it. There is just too much poverty in Troup County and we believe that poverty is at the heart of a great many of our community’s problems. There are too many Troup Countians still struggling to find happiness and their share of the prosperity that this area has to offer. Involvement in Circles allows Fran and me an avenue to give back. It lets us feel like we are doing our part to make Troup County a better place to live. At the same time it allows us to demonstrate our commitment to follow God’s great commandment that we love one another.

In addition, being part of Circles of Troup County gives us the excitement gained from being part of a grassroots movement to improve the world, improve our community and to improve the lives of those families involved. In so doing, we truly feel that we have enhanced our own lives. We have achieved a sense of purpose and commitment, which has given us great satisfaction. As if that weren’t enough, we have met so many wonderful new friends (other allies and committed Circles leaders) and this has been a true blessing.

At first we thought that the time commitment would be burdensome, but that has not proven to be true. Circles meets on Thursday evening, so we did have to give up Thursday social events, but that has not been a problem because we have found that we really enjoy being around the very positive people who are involved in Circles. We have enjoyed our time with the program so much that we can see ourselves continuing to be involved for a long time to come.

– written by Roy Nichols, Circles volunteer since 2012, Ally since Feb. 2013