Core Community works to help families get out of poverty

Marion County Core Community is a nonprofit Christian ministry that helps families get out and hopefully stay out of poverty. Their parent organization is Youth Core Ministries in Greensburg.

“What the community really needs to know is this is a very meaningful ministry and it’s dirty, messy work and it takes a long time to help a family out of poverty. But that’s what we do. We don’t just put a bandaid on it or pay their electric bill or something like that. We teach them how to become self-sufficient. We give them the resources to get out of poverty and become financially independent,” said Marion County Core Community Director Tracy Lowe.

The ministry offers two classes.

“One class runs once a year for 20 weeks and that’s called our ‘Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World’ class. And we have an actual curriculum for that class and it’s kind of an introductory class. When they finish that, they graduate into our phase two programming where they can stay as long as they’d like with core community at that point,” said Lowe. “In phase two we don’t have an actual curriculum that we use. We teach to the needs of the class. So sometimes we’ll do Financial Peace University or the Family Peace Initiative or budgeting or meal planning or how to write a resume or a myriad of other topics.”

What the group covers depends on their needs.

“We don’t see poverty as just the lack of financial resources, although that is one resource that we definitely look at. We see poverty as the lack of any combination of 11 different resources. And so even if a family gets out of financial poverty, they might still be lacking in some other areas. So everything that we teach focuses on building resources in those 11 areas,” said Lowe.

According to Lowe, their research has shown it takes three to five years for a family to walk out of poverty.

The group meets in Hillsboro in the basement of what was Trinity Mennonite Church and is now becoming a childcare center. They have dinner every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and then class begins at 6:15. Throughout the summer, the group meets on the fourth Thursday of every month until August. They will be at the park in Peabody in June and the Hillsboro pool in July. The fourth Thursday of August will be at Lowe’s house for a barbecue and then a summer party.

“We put all this information out on Facebook because we encourage people to come and talk to us and see what we’re all about,” said Lowe. “The community’s welcome to all of those events.”

Core Community is run mostly with the help of volunteers and like most non-profits, they can always use more help—especially financially as there are many equally amazing organizations in the county also needing funding that takes some of the charitable contributions away from Core Community.

“There’s a lot of ways to help. We’re always looking for financial donations. Currently we’re doing a campaign for a dollar a day that we’re asking for individuals in Marion County to give us a dollar a day. So $30 a month on a recurring donation,” said Lowe. “We also ask businesses and churches for larger donations, and we look for grants and write grants for donations.”

As far as volunteers, people can help by donating their time or in other ways.

“We serve supper every Thursday night at class for all of our families and usually organizations or businesses or sometimes just private people will sign up and volunteer to bring supper for one night,” said Lowe. “We also have a need for volunteers in our childcare.”

The organization also has a need for core friends which Lowe explains are people from the middle class that come in and form an intentional friendship with one of our families in poverty.

Lowe said, “We provide them training for that. There are a lot of guidelines for it, but it’s a really rewarding thing for families to do. They really love it.”

According to cumulative data from 2015-April of 2023, the 14 Core Community sites have increased income by $3,936,878 with $1,427,966 from debt reduction and $328,073 in monthly income as a group. Marion County Core families alone has increased their income by $16,883 and reduced debt by $80,919.

“Our data shows that we’ve gotten four families out of financial poverty and our research shows when a family’s in poverty, the benefits they receive and things for childcare assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, sometimes cash assistance can range from $22,000 to $50,000 per family,” said Lowe. “So when we get a family out of poverty, we’re reducing that cost to the greater community, which means everybody benefits from it.”

Lowe points out that most of the families that are in poverty in Marion County are in generational poverty.

“And that’s a really hard thing to break because that’s all they’ve ever known. We’re basically asking them to change everything that they know and do something different and that’s a big ask. But we don’t just ask them to do it. We walk beside them and show them how to do it and give them a lot of support and a lot of resources,” said Lowe.

The group also works on healing trauma.

“Most people have experienced trauma in their life and it seems like some of these families have had more than their share. We do a lot of work around healing trauma. We’re working on the whole picture for the whole family,” said Lowe.

Lowe wants everyone to know that they are welcome to come check things out.

She said, “People are certainly welcome. Anyone in the community is welcome to contact me if they want to come in and visit and see what our program really looks like.”

For more information on how to donate, see the graphic and scan the QR code, visit Marion County Core Community on Facebook, email Lowe at tracyk.marioncore@gmail.com or call her at 720-971-7133. More information is also available at ycmcorecommunity.org.

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