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Volunteer Alan Thomson is changing lives, one circle at a time.
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High 5: Volunteer Helps Others Achieve Financial Stability Through Utah County Program

PROVO, Utah – Alan Thomson is a man who embodies service, and he volunteers for a program that is changing lives.

Circles Utah Valley is a community-based initiative where volunteers step into the circle of a struggling individual or family to help them achieve financial stability. Alan is one such volunteer.

Homes come in many shapes and sizes. For the last four months, the Reece family in Provo has been calling a trailer their home.

That’s two adults, seven kids and two dogs in one trailer. It’s what poverty looks like. However, Tenteshia Reece is working to change her family’s future with the help of Circles and volunteers like Alan.

“The way Circles works is I’m what they call an ally,” Alan said. “… Tish — she’s the leader. She tells me what she wants to accomplish, and then she asks me what I can do to help her.”

Alan helped  Tenteshia find the temporary home, and he helped set up a kitchen in a nearby shed.

“This is where we cook dinners or lunches,” Tenteshia said, showing KSL TV the kitchen area.

Together, their next goal is to find a real home.

Each week, the Circles program meets at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Provo. Here, individuals and families have a meal and then work with volunteers like Alan on goal setting, budgeting, and other life skills.

“We work those budgets and how to do a resume and how to increase job skills,” said Circles Utah Valley Coordinator Kathy Givens. “We tap them into the resources in the community that might give them scholarships to further their education. Just all kinds of coaching. Whatever coaching they might need.”

During one of these meetings, KSL TV met Trevor Buit, who was one of Alan’s previous leaders.

He said Alan had a major impact on his life.

“He was a very valuable part of my circle,” Trevor said. “Being in the situation I was and looking for employment, there was never any judgement with that. (There was) never any, ‘I know better than you,’ or anything like that.”

At a recent Circles meeting, we recognized Alan for his efforts in changing lives and changing generations by helping better the life of one person at a time.

And America First Credit Union was there to help further Alan’s efforts.

“I can see these people’s faces,” said Carlie Brown with America First Credit Union. “They truly admire you for all that you’re doing. As a thanks, America First would like to extend $1,000 to you to put towards what you’re doing in the community.”

Alan and Circles Utah Valley are both deserving of a KSL High 5 for bringing hope to families in Utah County, for being willing to spend time in another person’s circle, and for providing guidance along the way.

“Alan is the best,” Tenteshia said. “He is an amazing guy. This is more than anyone has ever done for me. I’m thankful I have Alan because, without Alan, I don’t think I would have accomplished anything that I’ve accomplished in the past two years.”

She’s accomplished even more since we spoke to her. Days ago, the Reece family was approved to rent a four-bedroom home in Orem.

Circles Utah Valley is always looking for people who want to help, from childcare volunteers to donating meals to becoming an intentional friend or ally to sharking skills as a consultant. For volunteer opportunities, email volunteerconnection@communityactionuc.org. You can also get more information at the program’s Facebook page or at the organization’s website.