CORE Community: Recent graduates ready to help others as they have been helped

Edward J. Naughton
St. John News
Recent CORE Community graduates in St. John enjoy a special ceremony in their honor.
The Stafford branch of CORE Community in Stafford County recently graduated four members from the volunteer program.

For a special kind of good to be found in their lives that involves heart and soul, people who attend the orientation session to help them decide whether or not the program is right for them in their personal situation, not to mention CORE Community per se, then decide to enter CORE Community.

Jeanette Hildebrand is the Resource Coordinator for Stafford County CORE Community at 318 E. Broadway St, Stafford, KS 67578. 

"We have orientation sessions coming up scheduled for the 2nd and 3rd Monday nights consecutively at designated locations in September," Hildebrand said.

The website for the program is The phone contact number for information about orientation sessions and general questions is 620-546-3763.

"If substance abuse is a problem then they find out at orientation they have to at least try and become sober," Hildebrand said.

After being accepted following completion of orientation, participants go to meetings on consecutive Monday nights which meetings usually begin with a very nice hot meal in advance of the meeting time. 

By the time the meeting starts everyone feels good having enjoyed good food and fellowship too before starting to talk together lead by the coach or facilitator. They sit in a circular-type gathering on folding chairs usually at a church location.

Teresa Miller is the St. John Coach for CORE Community. In the St. John program there were three recent graduates who completed the 20-week program and received their certificates on Monday, August 23rd.

"The biggest thing about Core Community is building relationships. One of the goals is to try and find ways to get out of poverty," Miller said.

In the town of Stafford the group there is coached by Shelly Berens. This class of graduates receiving certificates on Monday, August 30. There were five persons in total, two males and three females, working class citizens, at least one of whom is a mother of four children.

Also in attendance at the graduation which was definitely a socially-driven event on August 30 in Stafford were two women, both single mothers. 

One young lady, again previous graduate of Core Community, had just one year ago completed this same program, and the other young lady two years ago did the same thing also, yet they feel the relationships they began then and have fostered since then, to be worth their continued participation in Monday night meetings in Stafford Core Community. These women still benefit from those relationships and encourage people new to the program to do likewise as they progress towards healing and restoration.

Everyone also heard testimonies for the graduates and they also learned, on August 30, from facilitators and coaches who got up in the front of the room in town Stafford. They talked about how much they as coaches or facilitators had received something precious in terms of fellowship and kindness from those graduating Getting Ahead phase one of Core Community.

There was a spirit of caring among the people in the room, men and women, older and younger.

The two women mentioned above in previous years, graduating from the 20 weeks phase 1 Getting Ahead program, said they have been doing very well, both working, feeling good about themselves and their living situations, and feeling blessed by the positive relationships they have found in the last two years or so. 

Also these women especially note the financial and budgetary insights they gained while lifting themselves out of poverty in many ways which program teaches that poverty itself is not defined just by financial aspect of your life, so the program is very helpful in helping them with self-determination and navigating the course of their lives, which is in stark contrast to the financial and social chaos they had experienced before they came into the program when in many cases they found themselves socially isolated and/or chronically depressed prior to entering Core Community.

There are some childcare options for young women who have children and want to participate in Core Community, as they need this kind of assistance when devoting themselves to attending meetings and getting more involved in learning about self-sufficiency. 

Coordinators in St. John and Stafford town respectively can be reached through the contact phone number given above to find out how childcare is managed while young women attend the program especially as they pass through the orientation session and on towards commencement of the phase 1 known as Getting Ahead.

Core Community had its origins when work with youth mostly impoverished started 25 years ago. Then those who served to help these young people did so under ministries such as South-Central Kansas Youth for Christ, and now Youth Core Ministries which has been since 2017.

Deborah Factor who is CEO of Youth Core Ministries, researched poverty issues and families. In 2006, she found an excellent resource in a book entitled Bridges Out of Poverty, authored by Dr. Ruby Payne.

From this resource came the belief that more should be done to aid our young people in becoming healthy, thriving adults.

The Core Community helps and guides those who are enrolled in the process by using a book resource named Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World, by Phil Devol, a workbook essentially which is aligned with the book by Payne which as earlier mentioned is entitled Bridges Out of Poverty.

An important part of the program is when people find that they can make friends which are in a positive way leading to better outcomes. 

In Core Community there are volunteers, but there are paid staff like coaches and others in positions of significant responsibility who log many hours in every week to guide people who enter the program.

The volunteers some of which are members of a local church who encourage and support Core Community. These volunteers are middle-class people in socioeconomic standing.

These friends get to know the people they are ministering to, so that while walking alongside those attending the Getting Ahead known as the phase 1 part of the program, they help them achieve a sense of positive purpose. They guide them in many ways, and help them to know how to utilize available tools and resources for everyday life, relationships, business, and job security.