TribLIVE

| News


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Circles Initiative helps Westmoreland families get out of poverty

Daily Photo Galleries

Westmoreland Photo Galleries

Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

To break the cycle of poverty, a jobless Joanie Holtz of Derry last year turned to a Westmoreland Community Action program that helped her bridge the gap from unemployment to a self-sufficiency by providing her with the information she needed to get a job.

“This program gave me the resources to become a paid caregiver. My biggest fear was that I was going to pass generational poverty onto my (10-year-old) son,” Holtz said on Monday at the Latrobe United Methodist Church during an informational session about the Community Action's Circles Initiative program.

The Circles Initiative program is designed to give low-income families in poverty the tools to turn their life around through 17 weekly sessions. The sessions explore financial issues, use of language, integrity and truthfulness, building relationships and acquiring role models.

“It is aimed at individuals who hope to make that journey out of poverty a permanent one,” said Kate Romano, the Circles Initiative coordinator for Westmoreland Community Action, a Greensburg-based social services organization. The program, part of a national campaign to end poverty through grassroots advocacy, has been operating in the county for about five years, Romano said.

Holtz graduated from the program in Latrobe last year and already has set a long-term goal of opening her own pastry and coffee shop in the Derry or Latrobe areas.

“We want to show them how be independent — how to go from just getting by to self-sufficiency,” Lisa DeLong of Unity, a Westmoreland Community Action Circles coach, told about 30 people that included representatives from social service agencies.

The Rev. Paul Wise, an associate pastor of the Latrobe United Methodist Church, said he had his “eyes opened to the success of the program” while he was an associate pastor of a Jeannette church that helped provide meals for participants in the Circles Initiative program.

Nike Felice, the Latrobe Main Street manager, said there has to be an understanding of the economic side of the problem. Businesses need to make a profit to hire workers to help a society grow.

Those who are looking to become self-sufficient with a job in Westmoreland County will find the economy still struggling to recover from the recession. Unemployment in the county was 7.5 percent in February, based on seasonal hiring factors, with about 14,500 unemployed workers, according to the state's Center for Workforce Information and Analysis.

Part of the program, “Bridges out of Poverty,” focuses on employers to help them understand poverty and break the stereotypes about people struggling with poverty, Romano said.

Westmoreland Community Action also is reaching out to the public, seeking volunteers to give of their time with the Circles Initiative program, to help those participants as they transition from poverty to independence, DeLong said.

“What we need are people to stand next to them, to give them support and guidance and a lending hand,” DeLong said. “We're not asking for financial contributions. We're asking for (a person's) time,” DeLong said.Pam Fisher, a graduate of the Latrobe Circle Initiatives program last year, attested to the importance of those volunteers “to keep us on track.”

“People talk about recovery from drugs and alcohol. Recovery from poverty, it's just as hard,” said Fisher, who landed a job at a Latrobe social service agency and went from living in public housing to owning her own home in a year.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Youngwood aims to reduce amount that ends up in sewage treatment facility
  2. Latrobe ear-biting suspect loses bid for reduced bail
  3. Request for documents delays Speedway hearing in Unity
  4. Foreign clergy mitigate shortage of priests in Diocese of Greensburg
  5. Westmoreland County tourism grants promote banana splits, breweries, trolley, railroad
  6. Forbes: Night at the Races planned at sportsmen’s club
  7. Hempfield infant fights rare disease
  8. Blaze guts South Greensburg home, kills 2 dogs
  9. Laurel Mountain Ski Resort discusses planned revival
  10. Ligonier doctor’s appeal to practice rejected
  11. Mt. Pleasant known for backing military, glass industries, health care