Navigating the real world is challenging for anyone, especially for those with limited resources. Helping folks chart a course was the purpose of the Life Planning Event Tuesday evening sponsored by Barton County’s Communities Organizing to Promote Equity at Great Bend Columbus Club.
“The purpose for this is to bring resources together to help people plan their life for now and in the future,” said COPE’s Callie Miller. It was designed to offer assistance to anyone, but Miller said a lot of the vendors worked with low income and under-resourced families.
There were 22 vendors encircling the main room. Those seeking assistance made their way around, talking to the representatives and picking up information of the myriad programs and services available.
This marked the first such event, Miller said. It ran from 4-7 p.m., and while traffic was slow early on, Miller said it picked up when people were off work.
There were incentives. A taco bar meal sponsored by Ellinwood District Hospital was offered to the first 100 attendees, there were door prizes contributed by the vendors and Kansas Gas Service provided winter home weatherization kits to those coming through.
Miller said they were hoping for a little better turnout. But, they are not discouraged and may try again next spring.
“We are an organization that is committed to solving poverty,” said Rachel Ellson of CORE Communities, one of those offering services Tuesday. They offer classes for families that are experiencing poverty, and are preparing to launch their next 20-week class entitled “Getting ahead.”
The course helps not just financially, but emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically, she said. It addresses social interactions and relationships.
But, this will only be successful if people sign up to take the sessions.
That is the value of an event like this, Ellson said. “We want to get information out and let people know about it, and sign up if they are interested.”
“We’re kind of a secret,” said Adam Hatten with the Great Bend KANSASWORKS office. They help job seekers find employment, as well as provide resume and job interview advice.
They were on hand Tuesday to get their message out and help connect attendees with opportunities.
Sevice providers taking part included the Family Crisis Center, Legacy Financial, Volunteers in Action, Catholic Charities, the Center for Counseling and Consultation, the Kansas Children’s League, Barton County Young Professionals, Heart of Kansas Family Health, Harvest America, the Great Bend Housing Authority, CORE, the Alliance for Healthy Kansas, Shelter Insurance, Aetna, Sunflower Bank, Birthright, Kansas Department of Health and Environment - KanCare, United Way of Central Kansas, KANSASWORKS and Ford County Housing Authority.
COPE is sponsored through a grant provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. and is administered by the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
There is a COPE group in 20 Kansas counties. These groups are made of various entities and stakeholders with the goal of to identify and reduce barriers to health and wellbeing that members of our community face, especially those in high-risk and under-resourced communities.
The Barton County COPE group’s members meet monthly.