Circles of Care Bridges the Gaps for African Americans
Living with Serious Illness
Studies show that African Americans:
- are at higher risk of dying of breast, prostate, colon and mouth cancer
- access treatment more slowly when diagnosed with early stage, possibly curable cancers
- have less access to effective pain control and support at home when diagnosed with advanced illness
- access hospice care less often at the end of life
Circles of Care was launched in 2009 to help bridge the gaps in care for African Americans.
Circles of Care is creating a network of volunteer Support Teams that provide health information, access to care, practical caregiving and spiritual support to African Americans living with advanced cancer and other illnesses in Durham, Orange, Chatham and Wake counties in NC.
Project Compassion joined forces with experienced health educators from the Community Health Coalition, the University of North Carolina Medical School, Duke Divinity School, area cancer centers and African American leaders and groups across the Triangle to create this initiative with funding from the Duke Endowment.
Already Circles of Care has trained 34 community leaders and oriented over 90 new Support Team members. In 2010, the initiative will keep growing to help bridge the gaps, offering African Americans needed support and better quality of life.
What Circles of Care Volunteers Are Saying
Robert Thorpe: “The strength of Circles of Care is that it is a continuous and consistent form of visitation. It allows us to know (the people we are supporting) on a personal level, in their own home. We go with a purpose. We learn about the person separate from their illness. They feel more comfortable and we feel more comfortable.”
“As a couple, it gives us the opportunity to work together. We think of ways to help our friend together. By being in a circle of care with other people, we are able to discuss and hear what the friend is asking for.”
Joyce Thorpe: "If you have one thing that you are good at, you can share that one thing to enhance this person’s quality of life."
A Pastor’s Perspective
Pastor John Nixon of Immanuel Seventh Day Adventist Church in Durham, NC, says:
We have people in our church that are longstanding members and for health reasons that can’t come to church. They can feel disconnected, alienated.
Circles of Care is a systematic way to help another person. It restores that feeling of being part of a church family.
Circles of Care is easy and the reward is instant.
Ways to Get Involved with Circles of Care
Circles of Care staff work with community leaders and members across the Triangle area of NC to create intentional groups of volunteers that provide practical, emotional, and spiritual support as well as resources and increased access to care for individuals and families facing serious illnesses such as cancer. Using a team approach, community volunteers pool their talents, creativity, and time to offer more support than individuals can provide alone.
A team can be created in partnership with faith communities, service organizations, sororities and fraternities and other community groups. Teams may be formed from existing groups that are trained to become circles of care or new groups that come together specifically for this purpose.
Joining a Circles of Care Team
New Circles of Care team members experience a 3 hour orientation before beginning and then meet monthly for 59 minutes to communicate, educate and coordinate. Begin by completing the Support Team Member Information form and register online for an upcoming Circles of Care orientation. If you have further questions, contact Stacie Peacock at (919) 402-1844 or
Leading a Circles of Care Team
Persons interested in helping lead a Circles of Care team are invited to attend a leadership training event. This one day training is a dynamic, interactive introduction to team facilitation. Register online for an upcoming Circles of Care Leadership Training event. If you have further questions, contact Stacie Peacock at (919) 402-1844 or
Partnering with Project Compassion to Create Circles of Care
If your organization would like to learn more about how to partner with us to bring Circles of Care to your congregation, community organization or group, contact Stacie Peacock at (919) 402-1844 or
Who Sponsors Circles of Care?
Circles of Care is funded by the Duke Endowment, and brings together experienced health educators from the University of North Carolina, Duke Divinity School, area Cancer Centers, Project Compassion and the Community Health Coalition.