Ed and Vonda Daniels are supporters (Allies) in our Circles program. As mentors and friends of the family they have guided through the program, the Daniels got involved to help the participating family (Circle Leaders) pull out of poverty and find a path toward prosperity.

For Ed, it was the right thing to do. But little did he know that Circles would help him, too. The program would get him through a difficult time in his own life. In the end, Circles offered him exactly what he and his wife gave to the family they were guiding: love and support.

Here is Ed’s story.

My wife and I were introduced to Circles by the program coordinator (Traci Powell) who thought we would be a perfect fit. So I attended a meeting.

As I listened, I realized that this program’s primary focus is to provide opportunities for individuals who are living in “poverty” the means to get out. Being that I grew up in this situation with a single mother, my heart was touched as I knew that God wanted me to participate.

As I continued to come each week to the meetings, I realized even more that I was personally benefiting from the interaction that was happening with the other participants. After 2-3 weeks, I knew that I could be a mentor as I could provide direction, give some encouraging words, and offer some spiritual help for a family who was in this situation.

Our Circles family turned out to be more advanced than we expected. The husband was enrolled in school. Within a year, he would have earned his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering along with his wife who was enrolled in a nursing program at one of the local colleges. These parents, who had 2 children (toddler and an infant), were pretty much on the right track to end their status.

So we kept them focused on the big picture. We were able to 1) pray with the family and provide spiritual encouragement 2) point them in the right direction, after the husband received an engineering job, with first-time home buying and refer them to local first-time home buying companies, and 3) provide some interviewing and resume advice so that the husband would be prepared once he entered the interviewing cycle.

For me, this experience has been very personal.

It gave me the opportunity to work with my sister and nephew who are in a similar situation in Orlando, FL. Generational poverty seems to be hereditary within my own family. This was a cycle that I was able to break through hard work and essentially through education. My sister now understands the role that she plays with assisting my nephew and now his children, so that this process of poverty does not continue over the next generation.

Also, when I first joined the Circles effort, I had returned to school to complete my BS degree requirements and really needed something positive and constructive. I never realized that those sessions and discussions that I was having with our Circles family would ultimately assist me through my difficult time. Often, Traci had asked me to interview candidates prior to entering into the program. This, I must say, was a true honor and I will never forget that opportunity. God used this program to be a blessing to me. Amen.

There are so many other positive aspects of this program. I would say that my highlight has and always will be the interactions on Thursday nights. I enjoy the discussions, I enjoy the testimonials, I enjoy the fellowship, and most importantly, I enjoy the love and support. There are no false pretenses. We are just everyday folks trying to assist one another in making all of our dreams come true.

I thank God for his blessings and the blessing of Circles.