Circles GR continues to work with Circle Leader families and prepare for the return of the regular in person Circle Leader training as well as 18-months of Matched Circles.
Below are ways you can ensure Circles families have what they need from our program:
$25 - can provide snacks or supplies for the children's program for a month. $100 - can cover facilitation and professional care for the youth program for a week $150 - can provide the weekly meal for the Circle Leaders, Allies, volunteers, and their families. $500 - can provide ongoing program and resource team development $5,000 - can provide the Circles program to a family of 3 for 6 months
Click here to find the opportunity that's right for you.
Being Mindful in the Madness
When we chose this theme for the month of March at Circles GR, we were thinking about college basketball, not a pandemic. How appropriate it seems now!
In fact, mindfulness is always appropriate at Circles GR. Research shows that the practice of mindfulness can help mitigate effects of long-term stress, past trauma, and the daily annoyances of a busy (or stay-safe-at-home) life. The Mayo Clinic defines mindfulness as a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.
Every Circles meeting begins with a few minutes of simple, guided mindfulness activity. Circles kids are taught this practice, too. And we’re in good company. Organizations who use mindfulness for increased creativity and employee health include Nike, General Mills, AOL Time Warner, and General Mills, as well as hospitals like Johns Hopkins and the UMass Med School.
At every meeting, each Circles member also shares a “New and Good,” something in our lives that is both new and good. We end with “Appreciations” - gratitude for anything or anyone during the evening. Research shows that the repeated practices of mindfulness, gratitude, and grounding in the present can actually help the brain create new neural pathways that aid in cognitive function, improved concentration, and improved decision-making.
Circles GR has partnered with Benefit, a free app that allows you to shop places like Target, Starbucks, Amazon, Walmart, and many more, while giving up to 20% of every purchase back to Circles GR. So download the app, link to your bank account or credit card, and select Circles GR as your organization today!
Thank you for purchasing with a purpose!
Circles GR Circle Leader Training Cohort #3
Cohort #3 started January 27. Eleven Circle Leaders are more than half way through their 12 week Circle Leader training. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, in person classes have been suspended. However, we continue to meet with Circle Leaders via conference call or Zoom. Thank goodness for technology! We are also staying in touch via telephone and Facebook. Although graduation will be postponed, Circle Leaders are working on their goals and dream boards anticipating graduation later this spring. Watch for more details concerning this celebration.
Prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, the 14 children of the Circle Leaders were meeting weekly as well, getting to know one another, and learning about working together, how to listen with their whole bodies, and how to understand social cues from others.
Allies are currently being trained online and are eagerly awaiting their in person training. Circle Leader matches will occur a month or so after in person classes resume. A few more Allies would be helpful. If you are interested in walking along side one of our Circle Leaders, contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 616-309-7517.
Volunteer to Lead Teacher to Intern
Lauren Browning was a GVSU sophomore looking to volunteer with children when she found Circles Grand Rapids. Just a few months later, when the lead teacher needed to move on, the Circles GR Children's Program Coordinator invited Lauren to become the lead teacher for 7-10 year olds . She graciously accepted and has given 110% ever since.
As Lead Teacher, Lauren began adding supplemental materials and activities to the weekly Circles curriculum. Along the way, she noticed what things worked and what things could be improved upon. It became routine for Lauren to plan in advance how she might enhance each weekly lesson.
Lauren's exceptional work with the children was getting noticed by Circles staff. Director Julie Liske offered Lauren an internship with the United Methodist Church Mission Intern Program. Lauren accepted, and said the internship was a great experience for her. It started with a three day training camp where she learned about working with children, different activities to engage children, and the effects of trauma on children.
Following the training, Lauren joined the Circles staff to work on adding materials and activities to the existing 18-month Circles USA curriculum themes. She also created two entirely new 4-week themes, "Every Day Heroes" and "Science and Nature". We’re proud that all of Lauren’s excellent work will soon be rolled out by Circles USA to be used by chapters across the network!
Current Circles Coordinator Andrea Vugteveen said, “Lauren is an exceptional member of our Children’s Team, and it is a privilege to work alongside her. Her commitment to Circles and love for the children shines through each week. She is a strong, caring, dependable, and creative leader who is willing to go the extra mile to make our Circles Children’s programming the best it can be.”
Lauren expressed that Circles GR is a great place to volunteer and work. "The Circles staff do a great job of training their volunteers and communicating with staff. Even if people are unsure about volunteering [for Circles], they should give it a try. Sometimes I think the volunteers get more out of it than even the kiddos do. It makes your heart feel good and it's fulfilling."