Name: Shadequa Hampton
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Location Of Your Circles: Manhattan & Brooklyn, NY
Sponsor Organization: Blue Star Families – Strengthening America’s military families through communities.
Circle Start Date: December 2018
The Ben Franklin Circle sponsored by Blue Star Families is open to all veterans, caregivers, community members, and neighbors interested in supporting military families. The Circle is held the first Saturday of every month. Please email Shadequa for details: email@example.com
What do you do when you’re not running a Ben Franklin Circle?
I attend Fordham University where I am getting my degree in social work and I work on developing my own community programs and events. My ultimate goal is to open a respite and resource center. I enjoy hosting different events and creating new exciting programs for families and communities because I believe in the power of collaboration and celebration. The events I enjoy the most are those that are centered around peer group discussions, recreational activities, and community service.
What attracted you to the Circles?
The concept of conversations centered around self and community improvement resonated with me. As a military veteran and a social work student, I understand the value and importance of peer groups and mutual improvement clubs. The simple structure of the Circle is very appealing because it allows for a guided discussion that can be flexible. Being able to come together with different people and gain insight into different experiences is enjoyable and beneficial.
Tell us a little about the composition of your group.
My group includes those I’ve come to know through Blue Star Families, an organization committed to creating communities of mutual support for service members, veterans and their families. It also includes members of my immediate family who make up my personal support network. Most of us are caregivers or veterans. The military Circle has men and women, and ages range as low as 7 years old. My niece came to a Circle meeting with her mother, and she participated by giving her perspective and helped me take notes.
I am also starting a new Circle in Brooklyn for high school students, recent high school graduates, and college students. The different experiences will help foster a good conversation across different education levels.
How has hosting a Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?
Hosting has helped me hone my interpersonal and organizational skills. The concept and structure of the Circles provide me with the support and guidance I need to affect positive change within myself and my community. I get to meet new people and share my experience as well as gain insight into theirs. I like the monthly schedule because it gives me time to reflect on and apply the different virtues to my daily life. Hosting the Circles has also helped me to realize that I want to work with groups and create simple and unique ways for people to discuss personal and social issues. My passion for connection and collaboration has been heightened and nurtured by the Circles.
Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?
Justice means the most to me personally because throughout history people who look like me have been denied justice. I think it is important to have an understanding of historical change. All of the virtues Ben Franklin listed are ones that apply today, but justice is the virtue that has seen the most change within our society. Discussing it with a diverse group of people is personally satisfying because I believe that is what will help structure a more inclusive concept of justice for all.
What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?
The last commitment I made to myself was to be more cognizant of my energy, and to enforce boundaries so that my energy isn’t drained. So far, I have been doing well with being cognizant, but I still have room for improvement when it comes to setting boundaries. I am also trying to commit to being healthier. So far, I have been watching what I eat, and it has been going well. The next step is to implement an exercise regimen. So far I have created a dance & discuss workshop that is a dance fitness class followed by a group discussion about social issues. I think the virtues of the Circle will help me structure this new class. I think the dance & discuss program can also be a good group activity to do after the 13 virtues have all been discussed. I will be sure to check in with a follow up to let everyone know how it goes. Fingers crossed!
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