Circles of Troup County graduates second class
by Asia Ashley Staff Writer
Through tears and painful memories, four women shared their stories of poverty as Circles of Troup County’s second class of graduates during Thursday evening’s graduation ceremony.
The four women attended 12-week classes that helped them develop skills to move them out of poverty into self-sufficiency.
“They’ve made me laugh, they’ve made me cry, but most of all they’ve really inspired me,” said Sherri Brown, Circles of Troup County director.
One graduate shared the story of her father leaving the family when she was 12-years-old on Christmas and she did not see him again until the age of 26, which left her starving for the attention of men. She engaged in unhealthy abusive relationships, living with different men with her two children.
She currently works a manufacturing job and hopes to find a job as pharmacy tech with plans to get out of debt, hoping to pay off all bills in February.
“In Circles I found a great group of people who don’t abuse my children or me, but actually care about us,” she said.
The youngest of the graduates spoke of how her mother left her drug-dealing father in Florida and shortly after moving to LaGrange, her father stopped sending money which left them to rely on food stamps. She became pregnant at 14, graduated in top 25 percent of her class while pregnant with her second child.
She received a scholarship to the University of West Georgia, but couldn’t afford housing which later prompted her to drop out to spend more time with her daughter. She resided in her car for a week then lived at the Stay Lodge hotel.
“I told my girls we were living in a castle because I didn’t want them to know we were homeless,” she said in tears.
She had applied for the housing authority three times before finally getting accepted, though her goal is to move out of the housing authority by June.
Circles, she said, is helping her move forward from her past.
“I met people who were able to accept my situation,” she said. “Twenty-two, four kids, living in the projects. They checked on me and I needed that. Thanks to Circles I am able to accept my mistakes and take steps into my success.”
Another of the women described her phase of depression after having twins at 21 and her mother passing away a few years ago which caused her to gain weight to almost 440 pounds, leaving her disabled and unable to work. She was able to have gastric surgery, which helped loose 200 pounds.
“I can now walk and run and play,” she said. “I’m now looking at going back to school and starting a cleaning service.”
The last of the graduates lost her jobs when it moved out of state and got into habit of drinking, gambling and smoking. When she received a new job, her house burned down causing more struggle.
One of the participants, died in May, and a moment of silence was given during the ceremony in her remembrance.
All of the graduates credited the program and allies for helping them take steps towards their goals. Brown stated that allies help in any way possible, whether it be babysitting, cooking meals, tutoring, laundry and just “being their friend and having someone they can call.”
“They don’t give money,” said Brown. “They use their particularly interesting skills and they share them with their friend They help them reach their goals and move forward.”
Two volunteers boasted of the fulfilling experience it is to be an ally and one said the Thursday night meetings have become the “highlight” of his life. Commission Chairman Ricky Wolfe and a former Circles graduate also spoke at the ceremony.
Circles is currently accepting applications for the next class of participants as well as for allies and volunteers to help with food. For more information, contact Sherri Brown at 706-883-1687, firstname.lastname@example.org or “like” the Facebook page at Facebook at Circles of Troup County.
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