For some of us, life’s path is full of obstacles and isn’t clearly defined.
But when our compass fails, how do we find our way again?
It’s for this reason that Great Circle exists. To guide those in circumstances beyond their control through times of struggle, toward a place where they can thrive. And to equip and empower them with tools and support they need to get there.
We restore hope where it is most needed by providing a unique spectrum of specialized care from highly trained professionals across the state.
At Great Circle, we embrace the same inspiring virtues we find in those we serve.
To be courageous as we champion change and growth in our communities. Just as they have shown the courage to ask for – and accept – our help.
To never give up. By celebrating each victory and persevering through each setback. By holding onto the belief that anyone or anything, once lost, can be reclaimed and redirected.
And by staying committed to serve not as a last resort, but a first step forward for the path ahead.
In the spring of 2004, during a series of town hall meetings, then City of Columbia First Ward council representative Almeta Crayton expressed concerns that the youth in her ward were often unemployed despite a willingness to work. So began the Youth Empowerment Zone.
In response to this outcry in the First Ward, a local nonprofit, Boone County Community Partnership contracted two Columbia residents, Lorenzo Lawson being one of them, to serve as youth advocates and help youth ages 14-24 obtain employment. First Ward residents and BCCP chose Lawson, as one of the candidates, to lead the program because of strong ties and commitment to the First Ward community. the chosen community activists built the program around ideas of empowerment and designed it to effectively serve those specifically at greatest risk and need. Most traditional service delivery systems are not successful with this hard to reach population. These youth tend to deal with the most difficult barriers and thereby are transient and distrustful of large systems. In building YEZ, staff had to be nontraditional in their approach and work outside of what is typically expected of a‘program.’ They worked unconventional hours, sometimes visiting the homes of youth at 9 o’ clock at night to talk with parents or look for youth who were heading down the wrong path. YEZ staff members also make job-site visits to act as an advocate for youth and a liaison between youth and their employers. During Youth Empowerment Zone’s first year in operation, 40 at risk youth were placed in gainful employment across Columbia. Because of their success in helping youth successfully transition to adulthood through employment BCCP accepted a contract to sponsor and implement the YEZ program. And YEZ has been growing ever since!
The Columbia Humane Society was formed in 1943 to provide shelter and care for Columbia’s abandoned animals. Originating in a little structure on Creasy Springs Road, the organization has grown into today’s Central Missouri Humane Society, a regional animal welfare agency caring for thousands of animals annually and providing veterinary services for low-income pet owners.