Support Circles is a program organized by community volunteers and the Partnership to End Homelessness to give focused, long-term support to a household transitioning from homelessness to housing. Teams of 5-7 community volunteers provide Partners with support in the form of relationships, household goods and other needed materials, transportation, help with budgeting, and connection to resources. Find more info here about what Support Circles are (and are not!).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
WHAT ARE SUPPORT CIRCLES?
Support Circle Teams comprise 5-7 volunteers who partner with individuals and families who are experiencing – or at risk of – homelessness and who are transitioning into permanent housing. Teams provide Partners assistance with:
Material support (e.g. locating furniture and other household goods – often gathered from congregations and friends and neighbors)
Practical support (e.g. helping create budgets or providing tutoring for GED classes)
Relational support (e.g. meeting regularly to build meaningful relationships and to act as a support system during this transitional period)
WHO ARE THE SUPPORT CIRCLE PARTNERS?
Support Circle Partners are individuals or families living in shelters or transitional housing programs or are receiving homelessness case management services from Orange County DSS or other homeless service providers. Clients apply to the Support Circles Program with assistance from their case manager.
WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT?
Support Circles make a 12- month commitment (which can be extended), meeting at least once per month with their Partners (often considerably more). Phone calls and emails are encouraged; each team member is encouraged to meet with their Partner a minimum of 4 times. All the Support Circle Teams in the program meet together once per month to share successes and challenges and to lend each other advice.
HOW ARE SUPPORT CIRCLE TEAMS FORMED AND MATCHED WITH THEIR PARTNER(S)
Teams can be from one or more faith-based group or other organization or a group of friends or neighbors. Individuals with no affiliation may also become part of a new Circle. Once we have a ready Circle, we match the Circle with a partner after considering their respective needs and qualities. Partners and Support Circle Teams sign a contract or covenant at the beginning of their partnership laying out their mutual commitments and obligations.
WHAT DO SUPPORT CIRCLES DO WITH THEIR PARTNERS?
Support Circle Teams and their Partners get to know each other and talk about what support the Partners may need and their activities together vary based on these needs and the relationships that form. Support Circles may gather household items and help partners move, help fill out and submit job applications, provide transportation, tutor, work out a budget, etc. Importantly, teams also model healthy lifestyles, listen and care, and empower their Partner.
DO SUPPORT CIRCLES RECEIVE TRAINING?
Support Circle Team members receive training so that they have a clear understanding of their role and to learn skills and information that will help them become effective partners. Topics included in the training include life skills, budgeting and finances, parenting, nutrition, time management, goal-setting, stress management, etc. Support Circles will also learn about available resources such as social services, housing, employment, health care, child care, etc.
I WANT TO USE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE MY FAITH. IS THAT OK?
A Support Circle is an opportunity to live out one’s faith rather than share it with your partner. You’re free to share your life with your partner which may include sharing your faith, but it is not the place for conversion or recruiting new members for your congregation.
Support Circles Seeking Part-Time Volunteer Coordinator (10 hour/week Volunteer position)
Seeking responsible, organized applicant with superb interpersonal and communication skills. Excellent opportunity for an individual with an interest in social work, peer support, racial equity, homelessness and a relational model of empowerment and support. The hours are flexible. Very rarely this position requires some weekend/evening availability. Duties:
Assist the Support Circles Advisory Committee with their regular meetings.
Collect monthly reports and feedback data from Circle Members and provide this information to the Advisory Committee
Support Liaisons who serve as the primary resource/contact for the Support Circles
Participate in training new volunteers, if appropriate, and support volunteer trainers
Help bridge communication, information and process gaps between Circle Members, Liaisons, Partners, and the Advisory Committee, and help the Advisory Committee identify and address overall program needs
Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org