Recently I had met with a couple that had been involved in Beyond Welfare in Iowa. I remember hearing about this initiative at the last summer institute; probably from Mike Green. The concept is very simple, bring together people on welfare that want support to get off with those that are interested in building community around them becoming part of their circle of support. They come together every week for a meal and activities to get to know each other. As circles of support naturally develop, a PATH would be done to bring solidarity and engagement from the circle to help this person move forward. One by one, circles were formed and people found themselves increasing their resources in the areas of money, friends, and meaning in life.
We are planning to start something similar in a neighborhood that has high foreclose rates, low income, organized community groups, and a rich diversity of churches. Focusing on those on welfare is less important than finding those that need support networks, like single parents, refugees, ex convicts, and other marginalized groups.
Any experience out there doing this? Any advise? Any other models to learn from???
Here's the website for Beyond Welfare. Good stuff! http://www.beyondwelfare.org/