Newsletter – December2018

December 2018


On November 13, 2018, Circles RVA’s celebrated the graduation of its first cohort of Circle Leaders. Our eight Circle Leaders completed their 13-week preparation course on November 6. They studied skills and attitudes essential to move from surviving to thriving. Over that time, they developed supportive relationships with each other, identified personal goals using the S.M.A.R.T. approach, learned budgeting basics and self-care techniques. Circle Leaders shared their personal vision boards with the audience on the night of graduation. It was apparent to everyone attending that our Circle Leaders are courageous, hopeful, determined, and grateful for the role of providence in their lives. Congratulations Circle Leaders!

Over the next three Circles weekly meetings, Leaders and Allies will spend group time getting to know each other better. This process will culminate in a matching ceremony on December 18, when Allies learn which Leader they will journey with over the next 18 months or more. Circles RVA salutes the 16 Allies who made the commitment to support Circles Leaders’ pursuit of their goals for thriving.

We are excited to share with you some pictures from the evening, thanks to Emily Bennett. And special thanks to Shanteny for sharing her Leader graduation speech (see Shanteny pictured below, top left).



Shanteny, a Circle Leader Graduate and part of the first Leader cohort, delivered an inspiring and motivational speech at the graduation ceremony. Her message of gratitude, perseverance, and vision for the future had to be shared, especially for those that were not able to attend.

Good afternoon to everyone,

Today is a good day to celebrate achievements. Everyone here has been able to achieve a goal, whether we consider it small or large, it does not make a difference. What matters is that we accomplished it… and we graduated!

As each one of us share our stories and visions for the future I would like to share mine. My vision board starts with the importance of family ties or social/community network. It takes a village to create stable homes. I like the phrase: “a family that prays together stays together…” I would also like to add, that a family that works together stays together.” It is important to socially interact and share highs and lows because that is what strengthens relationships. No matter how bad it looks, family is the core of a society. So, my vision is to strengthen my family to the point that it can withstand the turbulences in life in addition to having a strong support system to secure our roots.

Considering the importance of personal values and resilience, I would like share a little about myself. I am a second generation of immigrants to have worked hard to be part of the Dream. That dream was to succeed. We have done so with great sacrifice. This is why this quote is important to me “I’m stronger because I had to be, I am smarter because of my mistakes, happier because of the sadness I’ve known and now wiser because I learned.”

Lastly, success is not a direct reflection of financial success. It also translates to a productive academic life experience and prosperous professional career. This is part of my vision – being a successful human being means having a lifetime opportunity of learning and achieving goals. The way you end your life and the sum of your tangible achievements is a good measure of where your future is heading. Life is a marathon not a sprint, you have to endure until the end to achieve the prize.

I am a work in progress and I know it will take some specific steps to achieve more success. For instance: credit and debt management. This is one of the areas I would like to work with my Ally. I also would like to write a book and improve my technological skills.

I could tell you more but I have to share my thunder… so thank you for listening! I appreciate all the efforts made to make our journey pleasant. I couldn’t have made it without my village members at Circle RVA, Grace and Holy Trinity Church, and many other partners.



Date: Wednesday, December 5
Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Location: Good Shepherd Baptist Church
1127 N. 28th St.
Richmond, VA 23223

Participation is free but registration is required.
Light Dinner will be served


What is a Poverty Simulation?

Poverty is a reality for many individuals and families. Experiencing poverty, even in a simulation, helps us to understand the daily struggles those in poverty live with. The goal of the simulation is to bridge the gap from misconception to understanding. It is an interactive immersion experience that sensitizes community participants to the realities of poverty.

During a poverty simulation, participants role-play the lives of low-income families ranging from single parents caring for their children to senior citizens maintaining their self-sufficiency on Social Security.

Why is CirclesRVA offering this Poverty Simulation?
What will you be doing during the simulation?

Nearly 60,000 Richmonders live in poverty every day. Many more have incomes above the poverty line, but their incomes are still low enough to qualify for programs like Food Stamps and Medicaid. It is difficult for those of us who have enough to truly understand the situations that families living in poverty experience every day – the decisions they have to make, and the fears and frustrations they feel. That is why we are inviting you to walk a mile in the shoes of those facing poverty by participating in the highly acclaimed Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS).

The simulation provides participants with the opportunity to assume the role of a low-income family member living on a limited budget. The experience is divided into four 15-minute sessions, each of which represents one week in which you must provide for your family and maintain your home. As one participant commented, “This poverty simulation dramatically demonstrates how much time and energy many families have to give just to survive from day to day. It quickly dispels the myth ‘that people would do fine if they would only go out and get a job!’”

There are two different ways to participate:

Participant: you will be simulating what it would be like to be part of a family living in poverty and surviving month to month. The simulation consists of four 15-minute weeks.

Resource Table Volunteer: you will sit at one of the resource tables (i.e. utility service, employment office, grocer, bank, school, health clinic, quick cash etc). The families will need to rely on these resources to survive the month and will be frequenting some if not all the tables. As a volunteer you will receive training prior to the simulation.

When you register you will be given the option of choosing one, but I encourage folks to sign up to be a participant – we are looking for a total of 80 participants!

Good to Know:

Families with children are welcome and children over the age of 12 are encouraged to participate, however, everyone who is participating MUST register (group registration is available).

Childcare is available for children under the age of 12 who are NOT participating in the simulation