COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Some citizens in Columbus County are trying to use a new organization to target the county's high poverty rate.
Last year, the North Carolina Justice Center put the county in a "persistently poor" category, which means it had high poverty rates every year for 30 years.
Sixteen people who come from different backgrounds, but are all involved in the community, are coming together to form Circles of Hope in Columbus County.
There are currently 14 Circles of Hope agencies in the state, and the one in Columbus County is the first on the eastern end.
Organizers say that they will select a dozen families living in poverty, using referrals from agencies like the Department of Social Services and the school systems.
They say that starting next year, life coaches will meet with those families once a week, giving them tools to help turn their lives around. Once those families complete training, they will help others, who will keep the cycle going.
"To look at their situation," said Carolyn Hankins, with Circles of Hope Columbus County. "How they got into the situation. Whether it's generational poverty that's gone on three or more generations, or whether it's situational poverty. Where someone has had an unexpected occurrence. But it's jobless, illness, that has changed their lives."
Circles of Hope in Columbus County is being funded through churches and grants.
Organizers are already starting to host events, informing people about the organization. They also say that leaders in other counties in the area are showing interest in starting a Circles of Hope.
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