Coshocton Circles graduates first class

| December 16, 2013

GRADUATION: The Coshocton Circles program celebrated their first Circle Leaders graduation with a program at the Presbyterian Church on Wednesday evening, Dec. 11. The graduates listened to an impactful talk from Sonia Holycross, who travelled from Troy, Ohio for the program, received words of encouragement and hugs from program coordinators and a certificate at the ceremony. The graduates are pictured with the program coaches. (Beacon photo by Mark Fortune)

COSHOCTON Those participating in the Coshocton Circles leaders program have been meeting at several area churches since September and the time they have invested came to fruition Wednesday evening in an emotional program held at The Presbyterian Church where they were told, “This is the beginning of your journey, not the end.”

Those completing the program listened to a very motivating, “I’ve been where you’ve been” talk from Sonia Holycross, a family development coordinator from Troy, Ohio, who made the three hour trek across the state with her mom to share her story with the Circles program participants. Afterwards, the graduates talked with Holycross and asked questions.

Coshocton Circles is a program hosted by the faith community and designed to help people lift themselves out of poverty with classes, encouragement and advice. To say that the program is helpful would fall short of what it truly means to those involved, both from a point of emotion and group togetherness. You could feel the emotion in the room and hear it in the words shared by Tammy Fox, who is the program coach, as she greeted each graduate with a huge hug, smile and told those in the room why each person was special and about their unique gifts. Tears rolled freely as Fox poured herself into the evening.

Following the program she shared her thoughts, “They met with me every week, learning about making that transition from poverty to making changes in their life. One of the greatest desires is to see people get out of poverty. That’s a great goal, however, sometimes we don’t give people the tools to do it, Tonight part of the emotional difficulty is because it really does signify a change in who they are and what they’re going to do and where they’re going to go from here. We hope that they’re going to do great things, but we know that it’s going to take lots of other people than just the team of us to do that. It’s going to take an entire community walking beside us.”

Talking about the impact on the Coshocton community, Fox shared the story about, “If you give a person a fish, you feed them for a day, if you teach them how to fish, they learn a skill for a lifetime. We want them to learn a skill for a lifetime, whether it’s budgeting, or holding a job, or being a better parent or being involved in the school system, we want them to learn that skill for a lifetime. Our hope is that they’re going to learn lots of skills, take that and become amazing citizens within this community.”

Larry Stottsberry, who participates in the program, said, “I started the program a little late, but my girlfriend brought me in, and it has changed not only for myself, but for our family ,we both have two girls that are about the same change. Being a veteran ,being out of the military, and thinking you can be successful, sometimes you get down in a rut, something had to bring me out of it, this group brought me out. At first I was shy and Tammy Fox has helped me a lot in my life, she introduced me to everyone else and I got more open and now I’m to the point where I can see these guys in the community and say, “How you doin?”, or help them out.”

“This is more about showing people that are struggling that you care about them when you are together. It’s more about helping each other out even if you don’t have anything to help them out with. It’s like my mom and dad always said, “Even though you don’t get anything for Christmas, it’s being there and sharing love. It’s almost the same feeling but on a permanent week to week basis. I like it because now after we graduate it’s going to lead to more things. I know I’m going to stay around in it. I would appreciate it if more guys and more young adults would get in it. I would recommend it. It changed me, it would change other people too.”

Coshocton Circles is a faith based program that travels with the Community Meal offered by Grace UMC, Burt Avenue Wesleyan, Presbyterian Church, Park UMC and Central Christian Church. The Rev. Terrie Baker coordinates the program, Debbie Wallace is the chairperson of the guiding coalition, and Amie McVey is the Americorp Vista Community Leader. The next meeting of Circles will be Jan. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Call 740-294-8198 for more information.


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I live with my beautiful wife Nancy on a small farm just outside Coshocton. We have been married for thirty two years and have two grown children, Jessica and Jacob. Jessica is married to Aaron Mencer and they are employed with Coshocton City Schools. Jacob is a sophomore at Kent State University. I graduated from River View High School, have a Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina Wesleyan University and am actively involved with the Roscoe United Methodist Church, serve on several local committees and am a member of the Coshocton Kiwanis Club, having served as Past-President. I love reading, especially military thrillers, the Civil War and history in general. My goal is to write a novel. My wife and I are also AdvoCare distributors and encourage anyone wanting to lose weight, gain energy and better health to explore AdvoCare at our website; I love the media field, innovative technology and have worked in newspapers for over 30 years – in fact, my first job was delivering newspapers. The Beacon is a dream made possible by the support of this community and a great team. I hope to continue serving Coshocton County for many years.

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