By Michell Porisch

Every Tuesday I have the privilege to eat a meal at St. Luke and share something new and good about my week with people who 6 months ago I knew nothing about. 40-60 people, children and adults, gathered around a meal, sharing life. The food has been lovingly prepared by different volunteer groups and churches from Washtenaw county. The hospitality crew makes sure the room is set, the tables are decorated, and all are welcomed and greeted as we enter.

Dinner starts at 6 p.m. and we have a designated program time from approximately 7-8 p.m. Usually this is the time for the individual Circles (one leader and two allies) to meet and discuss progress made with their current action plans/goals with the ultimate goal of getting out of poverty. This is also when the children meet-not just for fun but a curriculum is presented, designed by Circles for these children in poverty. Our evening ends with a circle of appreciation, recognizing our fellow allies and leaders in big and small ways.

Our circles were carefully matched by the program leaders back in October and I appreciate all the deliberation that went into that process. Relationships are being built. Trust is growing. I have learned so much and my eyes have been opened to see the challenges a person in poverty faces, but also to see what strength it takes to be making the steps toward a different financial future out of generational poverty. The trust factor is huge and it takes time to build a good foundation. When was the last time you opened your budget to a friend let alone someone you have only known for a short while? I was reminded with the other allies last week, there is still a lot to learn. We have made progress even if is not exactly what we had expected. Getting out of poverty which means getting off of public assistance is a big challenge.

Just a few things I have learned – there are hidden rules among classes; the driving force in poverty is survival; people in poverty are mostly in crisis mode; plasma donations are big business in Michigan and also a big income source for people in poverty! There is so much more but I would challenge you to explore where you might fit in. Come to one of the information nights! I would love to talk to you more-just ask.

Circles Volunteer Orientation

Who:  You and anyone interested in learning more about our Circles program
What:  A hands-on overview of the need for this poverty reduction program and the meaningful ways you can volunteer
Where:  St. Luke Lutheran Church, 4205 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor (corner of Hogback and Washtenaw, near Sheriff’s Dept)
When:  Tuesday, March 6th; Tuesday, April 3rd; and Tuesday, June 5th at 7:00-8:00 pm.  

RSVP:  Suzanne Van Dam, or 734-340-9042