2020 was a difficult year for almost everyone, and even more so for those already struggling to have enough resources. Yet according to Lennie Maxwell, Community Liaison for Core Community Barton County, “even though 2020 was exceptionally hard on our finances because the pandemic prevented personal visits and group presentations, the source of most of our funds, Core Community continued to change lives for both our families experiencing poverty and our middle-class friends.”
Although 2020 was a struggle to maintain connection with the communities, the process continued to make a difference in the lives of those participating in the program. Six new leaders graduated in March from the first phase, a 20-week class called “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World,” even through the difficulties of social distancing because of the pandemic.
Founded in September 2017, originally called Circles of Barton County, Core Community works to break the cycle of generational poverty through healing and empowerment and by building community relationships. The weekly program focuses on helping individuals and families build all the resources they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Core Community looks at finances yet are wholistic in their approach to understanding poverty as a multitude of resources which a person or community can be lacking.
Over the almost five years since its inception Core Community has multiple families who have journeyed completely out of poverty, now own homes, reduced and/or resolved their debt, gotten married, earned degrees, and obtained careers.
“Through this process, lives and generations have forever changed” explains Maxwell.
Core Community has data to prove that it makes a tangible difference in solving poverty in Barton County. As of Feb. 8, 72 adults (with 70 children/youth) have at least graduated from phase one. It has been shown to take two to five years on average for an individual or family to walk out of poverty. Sixteen of those persons who have entered the process have moved out of poverty (defined as 200% above the federal poverty guideline). As a group they have increased monthly income by $27,578, this is a potential increase in community spending of over $330,000. They have also paid off $130,115 in personal debt, freeing these payments to stimulate the local economy.
“At Core Community, we believe that building a resilient and collaborative community to heal trauma and solve poverty can change lives,” adds Maxwell, “we believe that by working together we can make a difference; and that trauma and poverty are community issues that we can no longer ignore.”
Core Community needs the help of everyone in the county, especially as they struggle to gain their financial footing after 2020. If you would like to make a tax-exempt contribution to Core Community, or get involved in other ways such as providing a meal at the weekly meeting or becoming a Core Friend (commit to an intentional friendship with one of our Core leaders one night a month for 18 months), contact Lenard Maxwell, firstname.lastname@example.org, 785-955-0322, P.O. Box 1545, Great Bend, KS 67530.