The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, February 04, 2015, Page 18, Image 17

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
Circle of Friends brings out community partners
By Jodi Schneider McNamee
Circle of Friends hosted
a packed clubhouse for their
second annual open house
January 28 at their headquar-
ters on Hood Avenue.
Everyone in the commu-
nity was invited to attend to
learn about the mentoring
program and about the ways
that they can impact a child in
Sisters community by becom-
ing a mentor or friend.
“We just placed two new
mentors with friends, which
brings us up to around 24
mentors today. And we have
eight to 10 children just
waiting to be matched with
a mentor,” said Circle of
Friends board vice-president
Jan McGowan.
Board-member Ryan Mof-
fat kicked off the special pre-
sentation at the open house:
“The heartbeat of this
organization is to make a dif-
ference in the lives of kids,
and the best asset to make that
happen is people. The Circle
of Friends slogan, which is
the best way to describe the
core of this organization, is
now up on the wall, and was
donated by mentor Victoria
Graves, and put up by Beth
“One person over time,
can turn a life around.”
Circle of Friends is in
the midst of a new phase of
growth surrounding the men-
tors and their friends. There
are many opportunities within
the community for partner-
ships between Circle and
other groups.
Crystal Peaks Youth
Ranch and the High Desert
Museum are among the many
partners that have teamed up
with the organization to help
it grow.
Sisters resident Debbie
Newport had been a Circle
of Friends board member for
two years before stepping
into the new position as part-
time executive director to
work alongside Beth Hanson.
“Coming into this role has
been great,” Newport said.
“Kids have been the love of
my entire life and my career
as well, and finding work
in this organization is just
finding another way to keep
moving in that direction. The
different levels of relation-
ships and these new strategic
partnerships are part of what
we’ll be growing right along
with the number of mentors
and the number of kids we
Hanson remembered when
Circle of Friends first started
back in 2011.
“I’m excited about this
new phase,” she said. “We
started with just a camping
chair about four years ago.
This has become my fam-
ily, and I am glad Debbie has
taken over a part of the work,
so I can focus on our volun-
teers and our children and
grow that. One year ago we
moved here on Hood Avenue,
and Victoria Graves helped
bring our new space together
with her painting the different
rooms, and made our club-
house look amazing.”
Victoria Graves heard
about Circle of Friends
through her sister, Katy
Yoder, Sisters Folk Festival
development director. Graves
became a mentor last May.
“This sounded like the
type of organization that I
wanted to be a part of,” she
said. “I am the mother of four
boys so I’ve always dreamed
of a granddaughter or a girl
that I could mentor. And this
was the perfect timing for
me. I had a wonderful men-
tor when I was a kid, and I
loved to garden, and so I gar-
dened with my mentor every
week. The lessons that I had
learned from her, I still use
and appreciate today, and that
photo by Jodi sChneider mCnamee
Beth Hanson and davina luz of Circle of Friends in Sisters.
was decades ago. It was such
a positive experience for me.”
Rachel Shultz from Crys-
tal Peaks was there in support
of Circle of Friends as a com-
munity partner that provides
learning activities for the
mentors and their friends.
“There is such an opportu-
nity to make an impact in our
community, and we are mak-
ing sure that these kids don’t
fall through the cracks,” said
Shultz. “Our hope at Crys-
tal Peaks is that the kids will
know that their value is not
dependent on any of their
circumstances. My role is
to do sessions with the kids,
and we have open enrollment
for any child. Some of the
kids from Circle of Friends
come here with their mentors
and are paired with a Crys-
tal Peaks leader. There are
so many things they can get
involved with, such as learn-
ing to garden or grooming a
horse. We love to spend time
with the kids and watch them
come alive.”
For more information,
contact Circle of Friends at