Circles® Cowley County
Why Cowley County?
In Cowley County alone more than 2,000 of our neighbors, that's 15 percent of our county, are living at or below the poverty level. The poverty rate in our community is even higher for children 12 years and under at 25 percent. Imagine a small family making ends meet on $24,250, which is considered the official poverty level for a family of four.
Poverty is linked to societal problems, and the real cost of poverty to our society is estimated at $500 billion per year. Our community deserves better than this!
How Circles® Cowley County Got Started
In 2013 a small group of members from Grace United Methodist Church became concerned about the problem of poverty in our community. They saw an increase in the number of families seeking food assistance at the Winfield Community Food Pantry, which is located in the basement of the church. They were compelled to explore ways they could help.
After months of research, they decided that the project was far beyond the scope of their church and they sought input and assistance from other churches, community organizations, and concerned citizens throughout Cowley County. They formed what was called the Cowley County Anti-Poverty Initiative, Inc. In 2015 the expanded group chose the Circles® approach to a community-driven solution to end poverty. The first class of Circle Leaders enrolled in August of 2015 and, in December of that year, eight low-income women in Cowley County graduated from leadership training to continue their journey out of poverty.
Where We Meet
Currently Cowley County Circles® meets Monday nights from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the basement of Grace United Methodist Church, located at 320 College Street in Winfield. There are plans to expand to other communities in Cowley County. A hot meal and child care is always provided free of charge.
How We Are Funded
We are a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. Fifteen percent of our funding comes from grants, civic organizations, such as Cowley County United Way, Power of the Purse, Legacy Community Foundation, Allen Polen Family, and businesses, such as Cox Charities. The other 85 percent comes from generous donations from individuals in our community. You can help support our organization. Simply click on the Donate button.
Staff and Board of Directors
We have one part-time director, Julie Lashier. Our board is comprised of:
Bradley Gamber, Chair
Sarah Hallinan, Secretary
Doug Teubner, Treasurer
Lonnie McCullough, Member at large
Meredith Kowalsky, Member at large