Breaking the cycle of poverty; Switchpoint seeks volunteer ‘allies’

ST. GEORGE –  The Switchpoint Community Resource Center is asking the incredible volunteer community of Southern Utah to help struggling and newly housed families establish their own bridge out of poverty. A kickoff luncheon and a town hall meeting will be held Tuesday, and classes for circle leaders and allies begin March 25.

“What we are looking for are volunteers who are willing to become ‘allies’ to these families for 18 months – put their arms around them for 18 months, believe in them and teach them how to break their cycle of poverty,” said Switchpoint Volunteer Manager Julie Duckett.

“Based on the book, ‘Bridges Out of Poverty’ by Phillip E. Devol and Ruby K. Payne, the national mentoring initiative known as Circles USA was developed,” Duckett said. “This program is for those struggling and recently housed families that have come from poverty to learn how to establish connections and resources through allies.”

“If you’re into a four-generation-deep cycle of poverty, the only way to stop it is to put the brakes on that family and teach them the core thoughts of middle-class thinking,” Switchpoint Executive Director Carol Hollowell said.  “We’re trying to get them to grow their circle of friends so they can increase their opportunities.”

For example, Hollowell said, people who grow up in poverty may not have a basic understanding of civil manners or how to manage personal finances.

Switchpoint opened over Labor Day weekend September 2014 and has been recognized as a new one-stop-shop to assist families and individuals experiencing homelessness by providing resources to help change their circumstances.

“A lot of these families were staying with us at the shelter. They have now become more stable and have found employment and housing,” Hollowell said. “They have money coming in each month and yet they still are struggling because they don’t know how to budget their money. We also have families that come to our food pantry who are housed but are still struggling to make ends meet. If we’re really going to make a difference, we have to change the mindset.”

The program is funded by a federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families grant. Although some meals have been established, Duckett said, the program is looking for more restaurant and church group participation as well as involvement from speakers who can address the classes.

Event details

  • Ally meet and greet luncheon: March 17 at noon at Switchpoint, 948 N. 1300 West, in the Multipurpose Room. Scott Miller will be presenting information on the program, and will be available to answer questions. Open to allies and those interested in being allies. RSVP Julie Duckett at 435-627-4661 to attend.
  • Town Hall Meeting: March 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the St. George City Hall Chambers, 175 E. 200 North. Participants can learn about the new Circles St. George.
  • Classes for circle leaders and allies: Wednesday evenings beginning March 25, at the St. George Children’s Museum, 86 S. Main Street in St. George. Dinner is included and child care will be provided.

Please contact Carol Hollowell at [email protected] or Julie Duckett at [email protected] for more information or to become an ally.

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