Seattle CARES Mentoring Movement

Wellness Circles offer a safe place for women to speak out

Eight years ago, Tigest Beyene’s life hung in the balance — literally. After she broke up with her boyfriend of three years, he began to harass her. The situation got increasingly worse. In September 2013, he chased her down in his car, shot her in the stomach and then turned the gun on himself.

The former Highline High School graduate recovered physically and today she is the mother of two girls. Recently, a guidance counselor at her daughter’s school recommended she join a Community Wellness Circle, a program for parents, especially moms and female caregivers, sponsored by Seattle CARES and funded through King County’s Positive Family Connections.

“The teacher thought I would fit in,” she said, “and he sent me information on the program. I truly feel blessed to be part of such a strong group of women. My life has changed for the better. I am more aware of who I am and who I am becoming.”

Community Wellness Circles provide a safe healing space for parents. The program focuses on teaching the building blocks that make up a healthy quality life, emphasizing parenting, conflict-resolution and empowerment skills. Facilitators also provide connections for services for adults who may be experiencing food and housing insecurities, have health care issues, or need computers or other tech assistance.

Beyene appreciates how other women in the group listen to her, provide helpful comments and share their own experiences. ”The most valuable part of the Wellness Circle is the incredible women,” she said. “There is no judgment; it’s a safe zone. It reminds me that I am not alone.”

By participating, she has learned how to better manage stress and be a better parent to her daughters. She also has learned how to better manage her money. She is now saving to buy a home.

“The meetings help me be more self-aware, enjoy myself and laugh more with my kids,” she said. “My favorite part is when we get into our group sessions and we get to express about our day. This has really helped me be a better listener and have more patience, even at work.”