As part of the 2023 kNOw Poverty Summit, one of our own was featured as a speaker. Meili Tark, Recruitment Team Chair for Circles, shared her incredible story of overcoming an abusive marriage, finding the Circles initiative, and rising to help other women in her same situation. Here is just a portion of her incredible story of success:

Meili Tark
Recruitment Team Chair for Circles

When I began the Circles program in 2019, my self-esteem was still severely damaged from my abusive marriage. At the time, Circles was looking for a social media specialist to work for only a few hours per week. 

This job was a perfect fit, allowing me to gently ease back into working and helping me realize that I could make money doing a job I loved. 

As I worked for and participated in the Circles program, my sense of self-worth blossomed. Circles follows a model that deliberately works to build people up. Immersed in this culture of appreciation and encouragement, I began to believe once again that I had value to offer to the people around me. 

The hard reality is that when I was still in my abusive marriage, my community failed me. While society reaches out to help people, it did not reach far enough to help me when I needed it the most. Ironically, I had to do a significant amount of healing on my own before I was able to access the help I needed from my community. The help and support I eventually received saved me, but it failed my children.

I’m grateful for the help I have received, but I have also spent time wondering how others could have better helped me when it would have made a difference to my children. I realize it is asking a lot of society to learn how to connect with women who are literally falling apart because of abuse. However, if we want to help those who need us most, that is what we need to do.

Millions of women suffer from abuse. My story is a common one. When I share what happened to me, I find that there is almost always another woman who can relate. Usually, there are several. We need to do more to truly protect women who are suffering the effects of abuse. 

There are many changes we need to make to accomplish this, but I would like to emphasize just one. There is one issue that I believe is at the heart of the matter. We do not value women enough. If we can change this one thing, I believe that the other changes will follow. 

Our society is guilty of this same problem. It is clearly visible in the wage gap between men and women. As you know, in the United States, women earn about 82 cents for every dollar men earn. In Utah County, women earn about 62 cents for every dollar. We are very clearly undervaluing the women around us. 

All of us can do more to help women overcome the barriers to personal success. Let’s all do better to value and support the women around us.

To learn more about the Circles initiative and how it is helping individuals and families break the cycle of poverty, visit our website, sign up to volunteer, or become a member of one of our cohorts. You can become self-sufficient with the right tools and support!