Circles of Support

 Building relationships across class and race lines to provide opportunities for people in poverty who are motivated to change their lives; changing the mindset of the community about how they view people in poverty; and addressing policies and systems that need to change in order to make “leaving poverty” possible.

Circles of Support is a life empowering resource for the poor.

Social asset programming activities provide an opportunity for people in poverty to build skills, social assets, and engage in community life. Social support through human connections helps to ward off the effects of stress, depression, anxiety and other health problems. Positive social interaction and encouragement builds hope for the future.

Weekly facilitated meetings provide a framework for developing relationships across socio economic class and race lines. Social asset building meetings provide a safe, healthy, and consistent atmosphere to grow social skills and self-confidence.

While building a social support network, people who engage in Circles of Support learn about resources and community opportunities that can help them achieve their goals.

In order to bridge the gap between those who struggle financially in our community and those who do not, non-poor community members are welcomed and encouraged to engage in weekly meeting activities. 

In addition to individual development, Circles of Support is an opportunity to learn about poverty; about the systemic barriers that keep poverty alive; and about how communities respond to poverty.

Social Asset building:

Poverty is the common denominator that brings people to Circles of Support. In addition to poverty, meeting attendees come from a diverse collection of life experiences that drive them to seek support. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • isolation & loneliness
  • chemical dependency
  • divorce
  • custody issues
  • domestic violence
  • community reentry after incarceration
  • food insecurity
  • dysfunctional relationships
  • physical disabilities & obesity
  • mental health stability
  • homelessness
  • grief
  • rebuilding healthy social support

The Circles of Support community meets on Tuesday mornings at 9:00 at the Circles of Support office for Coffee & Conversation.  On Thursdays, meetings begin at 5:30 and a meal is provided.

Meeting discussions are designed to promote social interaction and learning. Topics revolve around an understanding of one’s self and their community as well as systemic barriers that impact forward mobility.

Circles of Support meetings open and close with very specific cognitive restructuring activities that encourage focus on positive aspects of life despite any negativity that may be present.

Relationships created through this process value life experiences and allow learning to happen across differences without placing blame. Progress toward self-selected goals is recognized and celebrated.

Skill building activities are woven into meetings including financial literacy, self-empowerment, and leadership. Additional activities such as picnics, artistic opportunities, and recreational outings are scheduled throughout the year.


Circles of Support social asset building activities are open to people experiencing poverty related issues as well as community members who are not in poverty but have an interest in befriending people who struggle with poverty related issues.

  • Meeting attendees must be at least 18 years of age
  • Sobriety at meetings is expected. Meeting attendees are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Meetings attendees possess the ability to demonstrate appropriate group meeting behaviors and respectful social interaction

Are you trying to get ahead? Are you feeling stuck, isolated or alone?

Circles of Support:
Tuesdays 9:00 to 10:30 AM
Coffee & Conversation
Free Lunch Wednesdays
11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Thursdays 5:30 to 7:30 PM
811 NE 4th Street
Grand Rapids
For more information please contact:

Karter Starling