Trevor Buit is a vocational rehabilitation officer at the Utah State Hospital in Provo. Life hasn’t been easy for him, though: He was born with cerebral palsy and diagnosed with OCD, primarily acute anxiety, at age 17. By 2015, he was living on benefits, volunteering, and working with the state vocational rehabilitation, trying to find work. 

The rehabilitation program helped him find the Circles Initiative, which set him on the path to improving his life. Keep reading to learn more about Circles and how the initiative helped Trevor create a better life for himself.

What’s the Circles Initiative?

Circles is a nationwide initiative with a Utah Valley chapter sponsored by Community Action Services and Food Bank. The long-term initiative helps low-income families and individuals stabilize, build self-reliance, and move out of poverty. Participants, called leaders, make the connections and learn the skills they need to pull themselves out of poverty.

To join Circles, leaders must have incomes below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Together with volunteers, called allies, they develop goals and a strategy to get out of poverty. Leaders graduate when their incomes reach at least 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. The initiative takes at least 18 months to complete, though it’s usually longer. 

Here are some of Circles’ successes in 2020:

  • Two families graduated from Circles.
  • Three families made improvements to their homes, creating a safer, more secure living environment.
  • One Circle participant joined the Circles staff, advancing her career by making social media content.
  • 39 percent of participants increased their income.
  • 71 percent increased their assets.
  • 39 percent decreased their debt.
  • 39 percent decreased their need for assistance.
  • 54 percent are no longer on public assistance.

How Trevor Improved His Life

When Trevor joined Circles, he was frustrated with his life and wanted to change it, but he didn’t know how. He set goals to get off disability, create connections, and advocate for others. 

According to Trevor, when you’re dealing with a mental health issue and a disability, it’s easy to fall into a state of learned helplessness and to believe you’re not capable of doing much. That makes it easy to cut yourself off and back away from the world.

Fortunately, his allies in Circles didn’t let him isolate. They held him accountable and kept him in the trenches, even when he was struggling. Over time, he took on a leadership role in the program and became the unofficial go-to guy for all things related to disabilities. 

Circles not only helped Trevor improve his life but also allowed him to help others. Now that he’s done with the initiative, he’s working full time helping people at the hospital find work and develop the skills they need to be released. He said he’s happy where he is.

When Trevor found the Circles Initiative, he started on the path to a better and more fulfilling life. Circles, which teaches people how to pull themselves out of poverty, helped him gain the confidence and skills he needed to find a full-time job and help others.