Our latest installment of Lives Transformed features three different, but equally inspiring, Circle Leaders from across the United States and Canada—all winners of our 2021 Impact Award. The Circles curriculum supports each person’s efforts to “break through” and expand what they think is possible: for themself, their family, and their community. As Circle Leaders reach milestones in their journeys toward financial stability, we document their achievements to highlight joy and hope as valuable tools in combating poverty.
“The name of the organization says a lot: If you don’t know somebody in your immediate circle, they know somebody in their circle.”
—Khyle Martin from Circles Columbus, GA
My mom was a single parent, but she always made the best of it so that it didn’t appear we were struggling. We didn’t have a great financial situation though — she didn’t know a lot about how finances worked when I was growing up. Had there been a Circles program back then, I’m sure my mom would have loved to attend it.
I had studied business and finance in school, but for a long time I was doing a lot of warehouse work. I have epilepsy, and I was doing jobs that weren’t safe for my medical condition. I had to find something that was safer, but I didn’t know how to start that journey. I went into the rent office one day, and they had a flyer for Circles. Your goals aligned with my goals. So I gave Circles a call.
Circles matched me with volunteer Allies who were able to support me, even if I just needed someone to talk to. Anything that would have set me back, I had help. I love my Allies, Jane Wilson, and a couple named Scott and Mary-Virginia Wehrenberg. I love them being in my corner. The name of the organization says a lot: If you don’t know somebody in your immediate circle, they know somebody in their circle.
Circles helped me create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) Goals, too. For the first time, I looked at the way I save versus the way I spend. When you go to school for business, they show you how to keep a book balance. But you still may not know you shouldn’t be spending over 30% of your income. It’s a lot of info that should have been brought up in high school or college or earlier on.
With the professional communications tools that I developed in Circles, I learned how to talk to different people in the workplace. It gave me the tools I needed to first gain an entry level job in a call center. Within two years, I won the job of business analyst.
And Circles is such a family atmosphere. My kids developed a strong friendship with the children of my Allies—I loved that. They would be excited to show me things they learned in the Circles youth program about saving money. Anytime I knew there was a workshop coming up, I made sure we were there. I wish I’d had someone to teach me those things when I was their age, and now I want to make sure they know.
To those considering joining Circles, or funding Circles, or volunteering with Circles, do it! This is a good thing. The education and the staff and the relationships are all life-changing.”