Newsletter: March 2024


Student Open Circles is responding to overwhelming needs during this difficult time in our world and local communities. Homelessness, food insecurity, and mental health challenges continue to rise in Hamilton. Underserved children and youth are struggling to catch up in school after the pandemic, often without the tutoring or extra help they need. And social service agencies are facing their own challenges – in the past year, many local programs that help folks in need have closed due to staff burnout, inability to find staff and volunteers, or lack of funding.

This is creating new challenges for us. Several times this year, we’ve scrambled to adapt because a social service closed after we’d already trained the student leaders and coordinated a group of weekly volunteers. It’s surprising how quickly things can go from having “all our ducks in a row” to “total gong show,” and then it’s a race to quickly find new places where SOC is most needed in the community.

Additionally, students need more support than ever.  The pandemic left many university students feeling overwhelmed, lacking in confidence, doubting their social skills or ability, or ill-equipped to manage in-person school alongside their volunteering. While some of our student leaders dropped out, the ones who are left are enthusiastic and eager to learn. With our individual coaching and support they are thriving, but it’s a smaller team than usual that is carrying the big load of facilitating 18 weekly volunteer groups.

With the overwhelming needs we are responding to, it’s clearer than ever that Student Open Circles is making a huge difference. Student volunteers are learning about the complex needs and strengths in our local community. And about their own strengths; that they have incredible abilities and gifts to offer. It’s exciting to think about how they will continue to be an empathetic, caring, and skillful presence in the lives of others. Read on to hear how lives are being changed.

Thank you for your support of Student Open Circles – we’re so grateful for everyone who makes it possible for us to serve the Hamilton community and to empower, support, and provide spiritual care for students.

- Marybeth and Jeff

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