CareSource Foundation comes to Pratt to celebrate $50,000 funding award to Core Ministries

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Core Community leader Sheryl White (middle) is all smiles during a special meet-and-greet reception Monday morning with CareSource donors Dustin Hardison and Amy Lowry at the Barron Theater in Pratt. CareSource made a sizeable financial donation to Core Ministries in support of their walk-out-of-poverty programs in Pratt and 14 surrounding communities.

For some, when the hits keep coming it's a bad thing. For Youth Core Ministries based in Greensburg and Core Community in Pratt and 14 other central Kansas sites, the hits that have been coming in October and November have been all good.

"We were just in shock when we found out that we were receiving a $50,000 grant award from the CareSource Foundation for our programs," said Core Community director Sheryl White. "To have been recognized in this way is just simply amazing."

A special presentation of the grant check took place in Pratt on Monday morning with CareSource representatives who flew in from Dayton, Ohio to join Kansas leaders from the Core programs. CareSource is a national insurance company that decided to host their first-ever community grant competition this year. 

In October, White was elated to reveal that Youth Core Ministries was named a finalist in a grant competition sponsored by CareSource Foundation. The prize, $5,000, came from a group that partners with nonprofits to provide much-needed services to low-and moderate-income families, encourage healthy communities, develop innovative approaches to address critical health issues, and enhance the lives of a diverse array of children, adults and families.

As Youth Core Ministries’ mission is to forever transform southcentral Kansas communities through leading kids to Jesus, connecting them to caring adults, and wrapping around families to solve poverty, there was an immediate connection between them, Care Source Foundation and Core Community, an additional poverty-relief group in south-central Kansas.

"That was great, but we sure had a need to win the $50,000 grand prize," White said. "We work in 14 communities from Atwood in western Kansas all the way up to Emporia in central Kansas.  We help low and moderate incomes families develop innovative practices to improve mental and physical health. Hundreds of volunteers take part in our programs to provide meals, transportation and childcare to families who want to pull themselves out of poverty."

To win at the next level of the CareSource Foundation and to secure the $50,00 grand prize, White said online votes for semi-finalist groups were needed.

"We were up against nine other worthy organizations from all around Kansas, and most were in the bigger cities, like Wichita, Kansas City and Topeka," White said. "We didn't really think we had a chance to get the votes needed to win more money. But I guess God knew differently."

White and Core Community partner Debra Factor launched a social media effort to ask their local and online supporters to vote on the CareSource website throughout the two weeks that followed the initial announcement of the $5,000 semi-finalist award.

"People were allowed to vote once every day, so we just put it out there to remind our friends that we needed their votes," White said. "We were just overwhelmed to learn that our groups out here in western and south-central Kansas gathered the largest number of votes and we won the $50,000 grand prize. We feel so blessed."

White said that a committee with representation from all groups served by Youth Core and Core Community has been formed to decide how best to use the new grant money to benefit all those connected to the poverty-relief organization.

"We want to share it will all 14 of our sites," White said. "They all have different goals shaped by the needs in their communities. We are so excited about being that connection for those who don't have a place to fit in, to feel loved on, to reach out to in times of stress and chaos. We want to walk alongside those who are on the journey to better their lives in a positive way for their children and themselves."

In addition to CareSource grants, The Barron Theater in Pratt has also received a donation from Peoples Foundation that will also help serve youth and community-building efforts there.

The Barron, which is home to Youth Core Ministries, has been fund-raising for some time towards a $75,000 goal for lobby and bathroom restoration and electrical upgrades.

New donations, plus grant money received in the past two months has climaxed that goal and building work is set to begin immanently.

"God is good," White said. "We are just continually humbled by the generosity of people in our communities and beyond, and by how God works to fill needs."