In Bond County, Illinois, 14% of residents fall below the poverty line. This is about 10% higher than the rate in all of Illinois (around 12%) and still higher than the national rate of approximately 13%. From this original 14%, 19% of that statistic is made up of children under 18. Yes, these are grim statistics to think of within our community. However, these statistics are why the Bond County Core Community was started in 2020. Core Community is not simply an organization designed to reduce poverty in struggling areas but rather to eliminate it. This is a process, but it has worked for countless families.
Families generally stick with this 3-step program for 3-5 years. Here is a quick overview of this process:
Phase 1 is a 20-week class called “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting by World.”
Step 1: Engaging
Step 2: Connecting
Phase 2 is connecting families with middle-class community members.
Step 3: Relational
Since families stay with the process for so long, Phase 3 includes maintaining the loving relationships that have been formed over the years.
Core Community is not looking to get families just barely above the poverty line either. Here is a list of all the goals they wish to achieve with each family and have achieved with so many:
- Income at or above 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- Debt reduction and resolution
- Student loans out of default
- Degrees earned
- Careers obtained
- Families articulating they no longer live under the toxic stress of poverty
- Lives and generations forever changes
One of the most significant aspects of Core Community focuses on is the actual community around it. As the organization states, “Often, people do not spend time in social settings with people who are not like them. We know that if that does not change, then nothing changes.” Core Community strives to bring families into a safe space where they are heard, where they are respected, and where they are free to share their hardships and struggles through poverty.
To build these communities, Core Community holds a weekly program for the families in need to come to enjoy a meal and begin their journey out of poverty with the organization team.
Below is their schedule at each meeting: CORE starts at 5:30 each week, serving a family-style meal to our families and volunteers.
At 6:15, our families’ children go to childcare, where they experience fun activities with caring adult volunteers. Our adult participants join together to share their lives and grow together through various curriculum workshops and programming. If you are interested in joining Core Community as either a participant or a volunteer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with them at (618) 664-2584. You can also find them on Facebook under Bond County Core Community for any other questions you may have. It is entirely free to join, and the community would love to have you.