JOPLIN, Mo. — An organization designed to help tornado victims is under new management, and its goal now is much broader than before.

The program, initially called Circles, started out as a suggestion of the long-term recovery group following the 2011 tornado. Its home was inside the United Way building in Joplin.

“There were a certain number of people that had been thrust into situational poverty whether that be through the loss of a house or loss of income because of the business not being there and so at that time, United Way took some long-term recovery funds and invested into the creation of the Circles program which eventually transformed into Building Bridges,” said Duane Dreiling, Executive Director, United Way of Southwest Missouri, Southeast Kansas.

After a while, Dreiling says the focus of the Building Bridges program began to widen.

“Not only do we see situational poverty, but in our area, we also see generational poverty. So for the first 3 years, there was kind of a commitment to situational poverty, but as we go forward we continue to address generational poverty,” said Dreiling.

Now, marking a milestone in its development, the program has been relocated to and under the umbrella of The Alliance of Southwest Missouri where Kaylea Furgerson says it can benefit from the synergy of other anti-poverty programs already there.

“We have a marketing team that can help deliver, you know, news and media about it and provide different programs for them, but we also have a grant writer as well so it can just help to get funds and just our staff as well, the programs that they offer. We all work collaboratively to grow each other’s programs,” said Furgerson.

The goal of the program is to reduce the number of families and individuals that rely on governmental programs and charitable aid by teaching adults life skills with the help of community mentors.

Building Bridges will be starting another class in August.

People can sign-up or simply learn more about the nonprofit here.