We’re sending this message of support and gratitude to all our Circles communities across North America. Thank you for the work you do – in times of crisis and every day – to build thriving communities.
We trust each Circle location is following recommendations from the CDC about keeping community centers, workplaces, and schools safe. Below please find suggestions about using technology to stay connected to your local Circles community.*
A Community of Practice Virtual Meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 17th at 1pm Pacific, 2pm Mountain, 3pm Central, 4pm Eastern: online via Go-To Meeting or by phone: #646-749-3131 with access code: 549-928-581. Please join us to explore strategies for supporting Circle Leaders and community members through this challenging time.
Jamie Haft, Executive Director of Circles USA
*Thanks to Kamatara Johnson, Jen Nibley, Monique Proffitt, and Courtney Cowan for compiling these tips from our community’s internal discussion on Freedcamp and from other resources.
Resources and Recommendations
If your government or local schools have required closing for gatherings of your size, please follow their lead on canceling in-person events for their suggested timeframe.
Here is the link to all 50 State Health Departments with resources for patient and healthcare providers and the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to learn more.
Staying Connected with Your Circles Community
Please reach out by email and phone to Circles participants, including Circle Leaders and volunteers. While some of the work of Circles can be adapted to virtual meetings, please keep in mind that your community members will need more than self-guided learning. There is an emotional, financial, and physical impact of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, so reaching out personally to individuals will be meaningful as we bridge this difficult time.
Additionally, your Chapter’s Services Team can survey, via Google Forms, your Circles community members to ascertain any immediate needs people may have including childcare and internet access, and then research what local services are being offered in your area. For example, here’s a survey from Albuquerque.
The following suggestions are from Monique Proffitt in Circles Johnson County, IN:
We are creating a Google Doc Folder with each Circle Leader’s goals and next steps with an electronic sign-in sheet and link that the Leader, their Allies, and the Coach will have access to, so individual Circles can still meet twice a month and we are able to capture attendance and progress for data.
Resource teams can meet the same way, with a link to the information needed for that meeting. We will have a six month e-learning and meeting plan.
We are using Zoom and found that, with stressed systems, non-paying users have limited signal; we went ahead and paid the yearly $150 fee to secure our space. We’re loading materials needed for Circle Leader and Ally training. We can easily make it a web-based classroom, so we can continue to train. It will be a Google Doc folder with a link for each potential Circle Leader as well, with a facilitator’s folder link to access all materials needed.
If we don’t end up needing them from home, we can still use them in class with computers and be no waste. We’re working on making a mockup to drop on Freedcamp so you have a visual template to work off of.
Some internet companies are offering services for people who don’t have it at no or a discounted cost. Starting March 13, 2020, Comcast is offering two months of free internet to low income families. If you have Circle Leaders who don’t have internet either for this or their children’s e-school you might want to check into that now before they also get overloaded. The mobile internet check outs at the libraries will go fast, and people might not be able to return them.