Communities of Transformation is a community initiative that supports individuals and families wanting to move from just surviving to thriving. These families are partnered with community volunteers who provide support and encouragement. Both participants and volunteers receive extensive training before being matched in small groups. However, this is not a mentoring program. Mentoring implies a hierarchy, and at COT there is no hierarchy. Every member of the program contributes to its success, every member sets and works towards personal goals, and every member experiences the transformation of an expanded worldview and new possibilities. All of this occurs during weekly meetings, which include a meal and childcare. An additional significant outcome of COT is the breaking down of barriers that historically divide our communities - socioeconomic, racial, religious, political, and cultural.
Equip Struggling Families
Awaken Students are individuals who are personally experiencing poverty and dream of a brighter future. They come to COT seeking a change. They spend the first twelve weeks in a personal leadership class called Awaken. This holistic training focuses on five areas of personal development: Financial, Spiritual, Relational, Physical, and Intellectual. Topics covered include budgeting, stress management, building healthy relationships, and goal setting. Throughout the class, Students are encouraged to identify and build upon their own strengths and assets. After completing this class, Awaken Graduates are partnered with 2-3 Matched Volunteers who help them reach their self-identified goals in a supportive environment. This combination of information and supportive relationships equips them to move from just surviving to thriving.
Educate Community Volunteers
COT Matched Volunteers are community members who are financially and emotionally stable and dream of a thriving community. Matched Volunteers complete a training class called Engage where they learn to do WITH (not for), to promote personal leadership, and to encourage and support Awaken Graduates. They also learn about systemic issues, such as predatory lending, that contribute to poverty. The transformation continues when they are partnered with Awaken Graduates and see first-hand the challenges of poverty.
Bring Community Organizations Together
Each COT site is located in a unique community with its own resources. COT does not seek to recreate programs that are already providing services to the local community. In fact, through community partnerships, COT can link its members to those community programs and resources that can help them reach their goals. These local organizations can also serve as referral sources for new Awaken Students or volunteers.
Break Through Barriers
Over the past few decades, income segregation in communities has increased. The result is that those on the well-resourced side of town often do not understand the challenges of the under-resourced and those on the under-resourced side of town do not have access to the information and networks of people that run the economy. COT brings these groups together in an intentional, structured way. The outcome is authentic and meaningful relationships that improve our understanding of one another, breakthrough stereotypes, and strengthen our community.