Jason Brown, His Recovery and Life After CORE

Jason Brown, His Recovery and Life After CORE

Meet Jason Brown!  We talked to Jason this month because he can speak from personal experience about life after CORE.   He first came to us 7 years ago.  Today, he lives at his home in Hollister, works for EnerSys/Northstar in Springfield, and enjoys an active social life among friends.  He has fully restored the bonds with his family, too. 

Jason has a lighthearted personality and is well liked by everyone.  If the Reader were to press us for specifics, our first thought is to compare him with Doc Brown from Back to the Future.  He’s obviously brilliant, and sometimes distracted by his own thoughts.  In fact, upon Jason’s arrival at CORE, someone called him Squirrel, and the nickname stuck! 

Beneath his friendly and pleasant exterior, however, Jason remains earnest about recovery.  Addiction is harmful, always.  In some cases, it’s fatal.  When it comes to addiction, Jason knows first hand about loss.

His story really begins during the 90’s.  He grew up in a good middle class family.  His father built show cars, and Jason learned the trade first hand.  He was a straight-A student until, at the age of fifteen, he discovered alcohol and marijuana.  While his grades suffered only a little for this, he was assaulted one day during a drug deal.  His injuries were serious enough that he dropped out of school.  

Jason went on to take the GED exam.  His test scores caught the attention of a local college.  He was recruited and earned his associate’s degree in applied science for electronics and computer technology.  From there, he found his way into the world of high tech.  To his credit, Jason was on the team that developed touch technology for Apple’s first iPhone.  

Throughout this time, Jason was still drinking.  He tells us, “I drank every day, from 15 to 37.”  In retrospect, he considers himself to have been a functional alcoholic. Jason’s life really began to unravel when he began using methamphetamines, however.  He went on a spree lasting 6 years and lost everything – his career, home, and retirement account. 

He came to live in an old camper at his father’s shop.  His family wanted to help.  With this intent, his father retired and turned over the car business to him. By this time, however, Jason was powerless.  Instead of making a go at the family business, Jason was staying up 4 to 5 days a week, high on meth. He clearly had a problem.  It was his sister who appeared one day to confront him.  She staged a formal intervention, urging him to seek help:

I was burning bridges right and left. So my sister comes to the shop, and it looks like a yard sale.  I had stuff tweaked out everywhere.  She’s crying, and she brings this packet, and she tells me about CORE.   She says, Jason, what are you doing with your life?  I think you need help.

Unfortunately, Jason wasn’t ready to listen yet.  Things got so bad that his dad had to evict him from the property.  The one-time tech phenom was now homeless.   

To compound matters, soon after Jason was jailed on an unpaid, speeding ticket.  Maybe for the first time in his life, Jason felt completely and utterly alone.  “It was Christmas,” he recalls, “I was in jail.  My family didn’t call.  Noone put money on my books.  Nothing.  They were done with me.”  Upon his release, Jason remained homeless.  He walked the streets and spent time in fast food places to stay warm.  Jason vividly recalls how cold the streets become at winter.

Misery finally brought him to ask for help.  His family, it turns out, had not forgotten him.  They immediately sprang into action.  His sister, who was intent on him going to CORE, made the appropriate calls.  His parents not only sent him to Branson, they also paid for his first month in the program and living expenses.

Looking back on his first days at CORE, two things come to Jason’s mind.  First, while he had ample personal experience with addiction, he knew next to nothing about recovery.  Second, he remembers that everybody thought he was crazy.  Our staff addressed both of these issues.

Tweakers can present special challenges, to be sure, but we just wanted him to make progress in his program.  Our staff gave Jason rather pointed guidance, not only with respect to working the 12 Steps, but also in regard to earning a living.  He was receptive to both.  He told us:

I thought I was going to come down here, go to rehab, and get cured.  How little did I know.  Seeing the cycle of addiction, I saw myself.  CORE kicked off my journey.  I wasn’t in recovery until I came here.  I didn’t have a relationship with God, and CORE led me to that.  And now, from what I learned working the 12 Steps, I can deal with everyday problems.  I’ve learned how to process them and deal with them.” 

For many clients, it’s not possible to pinpoint the exact moment of recovery.  In Jason’s case, it’s enough to note that, while working the 12 Step program, he began to live again.   His obsession for drugs and alcohol lifted.  He became interested in helping newcomers.  By the time of his commencement ceremony, many friends and loved ones arrived to speak on his behalf and celebrate his recovery.  

Career-wise, Jason sought out a new career and found it in Springfield, with Northstar Battery (working with robots!)  Jason also was accepted in our Second Mile group, and he became a manager at our Condor House on the outskirts of Hollister.  Jason reminisced about the men he sponsored while at Condor.  His greatest satisfaction, he says, was watching them go on to sponsor others.  

Now for the hard part of the story.  In addition to everything above, Jason also fell in love.  While we must be brief here, he spoke to us at length about this, because of its importance to his testimony.   In short, the couple fell in love when both were early in recovery.  Jason recovered.  She did not.  He lived through the heartbreak of loving somebody who was active in her addiction.  She could not, or would not, see his way of life.  Tragically, her addiction took everything, including her life.  

Jason spoke openly about the depth of his loss, saying “Every day, I would wake up with a giant ball of anxiety inside.  That’s grief.  I’d lost friends before.  When I was getting high, one of my good friends died.  This one, I felt.  It messed me up.”  He grieved for more than a year.  While such devastation might send some back to the bottle, Jason recommitted himself to the 12 Step program. 

Within weeks of his beloved’s passing, Jason began teaching recovery classes, and he’s been presenting ever since.  Moreover, he became a student of the Bible.  “I had to, for Jesus and God to heal me,” he says.  His Bible studies, which began in desperation, have now become part of his daily routine.  He awakes at 4:00 a.m., every morning, just so he can spend time in the Bible and in prayer.

In time, Jason became ready to strike out on his own.  While he moved out of CORE, he bought a house in Hollister to keep close to his recovery community.  “I always said to my guys and wanted to set the example, that I needed this in my life.  That’s why I bought a house here and not Springfield.”  He has a shop next to his house that he puts to good use.  Jason has been working on cars and building some really unique, steampunky looking furniture.  His latest project is a fish tank.  It’s so large that it could be mistaken for a baptistry!

He still works at Northstar, now in a supervisory role, and he loves his job.

On the personal front, Jason has reunited with his family.  It began with communication early in his recovery.  His family was cautious at first.  His sister attended his commencement and publicly read a message by his parents, who were traveling out of state.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Now, they see each other and talk all the time.  His dad even parked a boat in Jason’s yard, which is a stone’s throw from the lake.  The boat guarantees they see each other all the time.

In addition to family, he spends time with friends, too.  But – is he still single?  “Yes,” he says, “and I’m good with it.”  Throughout his youth, Jason thought life was about getting married and having kids.  Today, his priorities have changed, his highest priority being “to know God and to carry out His will.”  He still dates, but he’s patiently waiting on God to put the right person in his life, at the right time.

Jason actively devotes time to helping others, too.  He has taught classes both within and without CORE.  He’s also taken a spot as board member for a local charity whose mission is to help addicts and alcoholics get into recovery programs. 

In addition to the above, he attends several church services each week, and he still keeps close to CORE.  “I still show up every week.  This is my home church, where I belong.  It’s still home,” he tells us.  We at CORE are so very proud of Jason.  We’re happy for his newfound life in recovery.  He always will be welcome here!  


We really covered a lot of ground in Jason’s interview!  We thank him for patiently devoting several hours to us in preparation for this article.  Alas, it seems the only thing we didn’t cover in any detail is his latest car project.  Argh – but, no matter!  For this part, we’ll just make it up.  We only need form a mental picture of this really cool, futuristic metallic looking car.  And we imagine Jason, contemplating its performance, cooly remarking “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re gonna see some serious $*&#!”

The 12 Steps: the Gold Standard for Recovery

The 12 Steps: the Gold Standard for Recovery

People inquiring into substance abuse treatment are commonly advised to seek an “evidence-based” recovery program.  Evidence-based means that it’s established by the latest scientific research.  What works and what doesn’t is studied and published in reputable scientific journals.   As a recovery provider, CORE’s interest is in providing the most reliable, evidence-based treatment available.  That’s what we’re about.

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is the leading journal for systematic reviews in health care.  CDSR is internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence-based health care.  Significantly, it recently weighed in on what works best in addiction treatment.

Its review, titled “Alcoholics Anonymous and Other 12-Step Programs for Alcohol Use Disorder,” shows that the 12 Steps are still the gold standard for recovery. 

The lead researcher is a psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School.  The findings are unambiguous and conclusive: 12 Step programs not only help people get sober, but they also have much higher rates of continuous sobriety compared with other therapies (like cognitive behavioral therapy).  The numbers are impressive, showing the 12 Steps are up to 60% more effective than all other evidence-based therapies. 

Here at CORE, we see this study as confirming our decades of experience as a recovery provider. It also raises an important question, to wit, why is this so?

After all, the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were published in 1939.  Since that time, billions of dollars have been spent to advance the understanding and treatment of addiction.  New pharmaceuticals have been developed, along with many different psychotherapies.  Why then, after all this time, money, and scientific advancements, do the 12 Steps remain unparalleled in effectiveness for the treatment of addiction?  What do they offer above and beyond other, more modern therapies?  

To answer this question, we have to look at the key insights of AA founder and Big Book author Bill Wilson.  Like so many interested persons of his day, Wilson well knew that the addict’s problem had both biological and psychological components.  Notwithstanding, he saw that addiction is best understood and treated as a spiritual malady.  While his approach was highly unorthodox in scientific circles, time after time Wilson’s fledgling AA groups got results even where the medical profession failed.  Their successes continually showed that, once the spiritual illness is overcome, the sufferer straightens out mentally and physically, and recovers.

This spiritual malady, moreover, is the addict’s own egocentric nature.  “Selfishness – self-centeredness!” the book observes, “That, we think, is the root of our troubles.”

In practical terms, the addict self-sabotages nearly every aspect of life by exerting self-centered expectations and demands upon everybody and everything around them.  They feel hurt and anger, or are overcome with self-pity and indignation, when things don’t go to their exacting standards.  They become restless, irritable, and discontent unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort that comes from drinking, or drugging, as the case may be.  Even though the addict may recognize their drinking and drugging is harmful, a period of abstinence only highlights their malaise.  Without fail, they will drink or drug again in order to experience that ease and comfort.  They are helpless to do otherwise.  

Modern researchers often speak of addiction as affecting free will, of stripping the addict of their capacity for decision-making.  In the context of the 12 Step program, we say the addict is powerless over alcohol and drugs.  Regardless of nomenclature, the addict is caught in a vicious cycle from which there is no apparent escape.  

Now for the 12 Step solution.  The addict’s troubles are very much of their own making.  They arise out of self, and the various manifestations of self in the addict’s daily experience.  Commonly prescribed treatments for addiction, by contrast, address matters such as the addict’s conduct, changing their drinking or drugging habits, or they teach methods to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, respond to environmental triggers, reform social networks, and the like.  Such methods may well be appropriate for certain classes of problem drinkers and drug users, but for the addict and alcoholic, no.  

For this latter group, the problem user “is an extreme example of self-will run riot,” as the Big Book observes.  The addict at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink or drug.  “Except in a few, rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense.  His defense must come from a Higher Power.”

The primary objective of the 12 Steps is to rid the addict of selfishness.  Both the problem and solution are spiritual:

“Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness.  We must, or it kills us!  God makes that possible.  And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid.  Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to.  Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power.  We had to have God’s help.” 

Does this really work?  We can say, wholeheartedly, yes!  The science backs it up.  The program must be followed fearlessly and thoroughly but, as a rule, it absolutely works.  In our experience at CORE, recovery happens for everybody who works the 12 Steps.  The obsession to drink or to drug is lifted right out of the user, who returns to wholeness and health.  For the one who recovers, moreover, the 12 Steps become a practical plan for living.  

The Big Book offers two different lists, found on pages 52 and 83-84, which aptly contrast the experiences of the addict living in self (“the bedevilments”) with the blessings for those of us who recover (“the promises”).  We set them forth below for consideration:  

The bedevilments of self The promises of recovery
We were having trouble with personal relationships.We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away.
We couldn’t control our emotional natures.We will comprehend the word serenity and we know peace.
We were a prey to misery and depression.Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
We couldn’t make a living.Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We had a feeling of uselessness.That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We were full of fear.We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We were unhappy.We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people.No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

The foregoing describes two very different, real experiences.  The first is the addict who pursues a self-centered existence.  The second is the addict who walks the path of a God-centered life.  Interested readers will readily see themselves in one, or the other.

We know that some may feel hesitant about a recovery program based on spiritual principles.  Some of us felt that way, too, upon first coming to the program.  We hadn’t anticipated this.  Could it really be that straightforward, we asked.  We reacted like others who initially balked, but there was no denying the  results for those who practiced the Steps:

When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God.  Our ideas did not work.  But the God idea did.”     

The program works.  If the Reader is seeking the highest quality, evidence-based treatment for substance abuse, we invite you to contact us at CORE.  For more than a quarter century, thousands of our clients have gone on to lead happy, purposeful, and completely substance-free lives.  The AA promises of recovery can be fulfilled in you, too.  They will always materialize if you work for them.  We’ll show you how to do it.    

Additionally, we at CORE will continue to support progress in the sciences, medicine, and counseling therapies, as they pertain to the terrible problem of addiction.  Used properly, they can be extremely beneficial in assisting a return to health.  For an effective recovery program, we continue to approve the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous – the gold standard of recovery.

Who Is An Alcoholic?

Who Is An Alcoholic?

At CORE, we use the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as a textbook.  The word “alcoholic” conjures different images.  They might include a college student who gets drunk every weekend, a TV character like Norm Peterson on Cheers, a drunk driver, an Absinthe-swilling artist, a lawyer at a three-martini lunch, or a bum sleeping on a park bench.  For still others, this word may bring to mind a certain family member or friend who has been troubled by alcohol.

The images are many but, who is the alcoholic?

Significantly, being alcoholic isn’t necessarily the same as suffering from an “alcohol use disorder.”  The latter is something that might be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or counselor.  The most current manual for diagnosis, the DSM-5, offers many criteria for a so-called AUD.  There are eleven in all.  We will mention them below for comparison.  They include:

1. Drinking more, or longer, than intended;

2. Wanting or trying more than once to cut down or stop drinking but can’t;

3. Spending a lot of time drinking or getting over the effects of drinking;

4. Craving alcohol to the point of distraction;

5. Drinking and accompanying consequences interfering with home, job, or school;

6. Continuing to drink despite it causing trouble with family or friends;

7. Giving up or cutting back on important activities in order to drink;

8. Engaging in a dangerous activity while or after drinking;

9. Continuing to drink despite feeling depressed or anxious over it, or after it exacerbated another health problem; 

10. Having to drink more to get the same effect; and

11. Suffering withdrawal symptoms when the effects of alcohol wear off.

While all of these criteria are discussed in some fashion by the Big Book, the scope of an AUD is broader than alcoholism.  This is because of the way the DSM-5 applies these criteria.

According to the manual, a patient who has experienced at least two of these criteria over a year may be diagnosed with an AUD.  It further creates a sliding scale of severity, from mild, to moderate, to severe.  Having only two of these symptoms is mild.  With six, the patient’s disorder becomes severe.  By creating this continuum of severity, the manual broadens the scope of potential patients who may qualify for services.  

Still, having an AUD does not necessarily mean one is alcoholic.  As an example, consider a college student who impulsively ditches his study group to attend a kegger, gets drunk, engages in unprotected sex, and awakes the next morning so hung over that he misses all of his classes.  He arguably meets at least two of the required criteria for AUD.  The young man has a problem.  No doubt about that.  He even may be diagnosed with an AUD.  But, is he an alcoholic?

Without hearing more about our hypothetical college student’s experience with alcohol, we really can’t say.  It’s worth noting here, however, that AA’s cofounder Dr. Bob not only quit a semester of college because of his drinking, but also found himself so impaired during another semester that he could not even complete his final exams.  Dr. Bob’s experience strikes us as more consistent with alcoholism than our hypothetical student’s poor choices.   

The Big Book’s authors didn’t write for every person who suffers problems from drinking.  They wrote for alcoholics.  While every alcoholic may be considered to have an AUD, the reverse isn’t always true.

Moreover, while there were hospitals, facilities, and treatments for alcoholism even in Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s day, the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were written for a special class of persons for whom all such treatments proved futile.  According to the Big Book, the alcoholic is bodily and mentally different from other drinkers, in one critically important sense:

“We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking.  We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control.”

Loss of control is the criteria for deciding whether one is alcoholic.  As the book states, “If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic.”  It is this loss of control, the utter inability to leave alcohol alone no matter how great the necessity or personal desire, that is the defining characteristic of every alcoholic.  

Thus, the alcoholic is considered to be “powerless” over alcohol.  This is so far beyond the ordinary experience of most people as to be baffling, even unbelievable.  Why not just stop drinking?  Or, having stopped, why ever start drinking again?  These are fair questions.  They are the same questions that every alcoholic will ask themselves, many times, during their drinking careers.  

Whether one begins as a moderate or heavy drinker, it is upon losing control over their liquor consumption that they become alcoholic.  Once that line is crossed, the alcoholic will experience cravings for more alcohol while they are drinking, and they will obsess about it even when they are not.  There is no turning back from this condition, unfortunately.  Further, the alcoholic doesn’t simply suffer from two criteria from the DSM-5 list.  They fall into the living nightmare of experiencing all (or very near all) of them, all the time, with no way out.

We may think that today, 80 years after the AA Big Book was written, with all of the progress made by researchers, the medical breakthroughs, the building of so many facilities, and with insurance coverage, that a significant dent might have been made in the successful treatment of alcoholics.  After all, new pharmaceuticals have been developed.  We now have counseling, all sorts of therapies, and further treatments on top of these.  

CORE’s recovery program is based on the 12 Steps.  From our vantage point, our business shows no signs of slowing despite the advances of medicine and science.  Moreover, most of our clients come to us with histories that include medication assisted treatment and interventions at medical centers, rehabs, and counseling centers.   They still come to CORE, looking for recovery.  In our experience, the following Big Book observation remains just as true today as when it was written:

“The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense.  His defense must come from a Higher Power.”

Happily, our clients who work the 12 Steps uniformly do recover.  They experience a psychic change – a deep and effective spiritual experience which revolutionizes their attitude toward life, their fellows, and God’s universe:

“Strange as this may seem to those who do not understand  once a psychic change has occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who had so many problems he despaired of ever solving them, suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for alcohol, the only effort necessary being that required to follow a few simple rules.”

Helping our newcomers discover this necessary spiritual experience is what CORE’s all about.   

Kelsey Muñoz: Walking in Newness of Life

Kelsey Muñoz: Walking in Newness of Life

Meet Kelsey Muñoz!  Over the past year, Kelsey has been busy as a honey bee, with awesome results!

This month, Kelsey commences CORE’s one-year recovery program.  Additionally, she: (1) is starting as house manager at our 6th Street facility, (2) has been accepted into our Second Mile group, and (3) has begun working for CORE.  On top of this, Kelsey’s successfully making her way through Stone County’s drug court program, too.  Whew – we’re worn out just thinking about it!

We recently sat down with Kelsey to talk about her addiction and recovery.  At the outset of our interview, Kelsey made plain that she credits God for her return to health.  She pointedly told us, “‘But God’ – that means so much to me.  I was a struggling addict with no ambition who didn’t know what she was doing with her life.  ‘But God.’”   

Indeed!  In so many Bible stories, those two words signal God’s intervention to make everything right again.  When all seems lost and we read “but God,” we just know He’s coming to the rescue.  God redeems and makes all things new if we seek His will.

Kelsey said several things, in fact, that indicated how diligently she’s been studying the Bible.  Our interview, moreover, lasted almost two hours!  We’ll do our best to abbreviate her testimony below.

She grew up in nearby Cassville and married shortly after high school.  The marriage was not a happy one, however, and about three years ago, Kelsey and her husband separated.  She found herself alone, with children, and working full-time at a factory job.  Coming home, once the children had been put to bed, Kelsey began self-medicating with alcohol – drinking to wind down and help her sleep.  We who are recovered can see her situation as a disaster waiting to happen.  And happen it did.    

Her mother arrived to take charge of the children, and it was agreed that Kelsey would get herself clean and sober.  By this time, however, she was powerless.  She had no idea what to do and spiraled downward.  She discovered methamphetamines, then fentanyl, in quick succession.  Kelsey remembers, “I had friends saying, all you do is do drugs, nod out, and throw up.  That’s all you do.  You’re not a person.”  She also remarked how quickly she went from depression into full-blown addiction, saying, “I was not prepared.  But it goes to show, I think, if there’s no self-care or mental awareness of what is going on around you, you can plummet.  It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from.”

Then she got into criminal trouble, which made the local paper.  The good people of her hometown were scandalized.  They knew her parents as reputable folk.  They were dependable people, with good careers, who went to bed every night at 9:00 p.m., like clockwork.  Now, she’d alienated her family.  Nobody was coming to her support.

At Kelsey’s court hearing, things looked bleak.  She might have gone to jail, but the professionals working her case spotted Kelsey’s problem and acted.  Significantly, it was a prominent judge who decided that what Kelsey needed, more than anything, was help.

If there is a dean of drug courts in America, Judge Alan Blankenship is that guy.  When Congress recently sought testimony about federal funding for drug court programs nationwide, they asked for Judge Blankenship.   He knows his stuff.  He also approved drug court as part of Kelsey’s sentencing.  She recalls, “Judge Blankenship told me it was a tough program, but it was all about getting help and being honest.  He said it was a big opportunity for me.”

Kelsey arrived to Branson in the autumn of 2021 – her first time ever living away from home.  Initially, she bounced from one sober living place to another and was subjected to all sorts of influences.  In fact, Kelsey divulged that she had tried working the 12 Steps using “mother earth” as her Higher Power.  I was trying to figure it out, but I really had no clue, to be honest.  I was into this hippie stuff, praying to mother earth, spreading positivity.  I would ground, walk barefoot, and meditate every day.”  Not surprisingly, that wasn’t working for Kelsey, but things turned around when she got to CORE:

I had to figure out my Higher Power and not be influenced by anyone who was going to gain anything from it.  I just had to buckle down, and that’s what I did at CORE.  I gave it my absolute all.  I started studying the Bible, educating myself.  I really hit the ground running.  And from not having a conception of who my Higher Power is to now having a personal relationship with God, that’s huge.  All that time I was trying to run the show, He was there, just waiting for me.”

Today, Kelsey walks in newness of life.  She expressed her gratitude for the many people who helped her along the path to recovery.  She mentioned her counselor, attorney, and people at drug court, all of whom took an interest in her recovery and, in her own words, “saved my life”.  Of Judge Blankenship she says, “He saw me when I was lost, like a puppy.  Now he sees me, once a month, and he’s proud.  That means so much to me.”  She also mentioned CORE’s Jen Brinkman (Women’s Coordinator) and Kevin Hunt (Program Manager), who have accompanied her to every appearance at drug court.

Kelsey also spoke favorably about CORE’s recovery program, saying:

CORE is different.  I’d been to other programs here in Branson, but something is different about CORE. It gave me the support I needed not only to find recovery, but also to manage it.  Every day is a little different, you know?  CORE teaches me that recovery is possible through all of them.  There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.  Because in other programs, or in life altogether, it doesn’t always seem that way.  There was a time I couldn’t even wrap my head around the fact that sobriety and happiness were possible.  I found those here at CORE.”

Kelsey is still relatively young in her recovery, but she’s actively working the 12 Steps to reclaim her life.  This includes making proper amends to her children, and to their grandparents.  Over the holidays, she met personally with her parents.  She’s also been in daily communication with her oldest children.  She understands, moreover, that apologies are mere words unless her actions are aligned with just principles.  So, Kelsey is making amends by showing her new way of life in recovery.  My goal,” she said, “is to have all of my children once I’ve accomplished everything I need to do here.”

She doesn’t have a specific deadline in which to complete the drug court program, although she’s phasing up according to expectations.  Until her work there is done, Kelsey is busily discovering the many blessings that recovery has in store.  As an example, she jumped at the chance to come work for CORE, telling us, “There’s no amount of money in the world that compares to doing God’s work.  And I do believe that that’s what this whole CORE program is doing, every single day, by just helping people.”

We at CORE well understand that what Kelsey wants more than anything is to return home and be with her family.  We’ll continue to support her efforts to accomplish this as we are able, even though she will be missed.  When the happy day arrives, we’ll celebrate with her, giving all glory to God!   


Alexandria Powell’s Happy New Year

Alexandria Powell’s Happy New Year!

This week, about 80 million Americans are just beginning self-improvement programs to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions.  Alexandria Powell is not among them. 

Twenty months ago, Alex began working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In this simple program, she found all the tools necessary to make her life extraordinary.  Today, Alex doesn’t fret about what she lacks.  She counts her blessings.  

Alex is having a happy new year.  “It’s good, because I am!” she smiles.  In fact, as we sat down with her for our interview, all Alex wanted to talk about are things for which she is grateful.  There are many, and she ticked them off for us, one by one.

Importantly, she has recovered.  This is huge for a twenty-something who used to be completely powerless over her addiction.

When Alex first arrived to CORE, in May 2021, she was a broken soul, despairing even of life.  “My addiction had me by a choke hold,” she remembers, “Even though I’m telling myself, you’re not going to do this anymore, I’m still doing it.”

Alex finally had bottomed out while living alone in a house without power or water.  Her cold surroundings matched perfectly with the emptiness she felt in her heart.  She had detached herself physically and emotionally from everyone and everything.  “I didn’t trust anybody,” she says, “I kept things puddle deep for years.  I didn’t get close to anyone, and I was that way until I came here to CORE.”

While her addiction wasn’t materially different from anybody else, it was plenty serious.  Alex was powerless, and she knew it.  To illustrate her dilemma for us, she related a story about overdosing, and doing more drugs immediately thereafter:

I was, like, minutes from death.  So, the police officer Narcaned me.  I came to in the ambulance.  From the hospital they took me to jail, where I’m sitting waiting to be booked.  And here’s the insanity of my addiction.  While I’m sitting in this area, I remember that I still have drugs on me.  I did them right there.  I’m at jail.  I just died.  And I’m doing more drugs.  That’s the insanity.  

Her mom paid for her admission into CORE.  Once here, Alex received lots of encouragement and began working her steps.  She mentioned several sources of inspiration during her early days.

One is our women’s coordinator in Springfield, Kim Stewart.  “She will always direct you back to God,” Alex says.  Another is her former house manager, Nicole Nelson, “who walked me through the Steps and was my Fifth Step partner.”  Still another source, who we didn’t anticipate but nevertheless are glad to hear about, are the fine people at the Timken Company, her place of employment.  “I’m pretty close knit with them,” Alex tells us, “They’ve been so supportive. They’re such good people!” 

A big, early challenge for Alex was trusting others, including God.  To do this she had to overcome fear.  Referencing the AA Big Book, Alex told us that fear touched about every aspect of her life.  It was an evil and corroding thread, and her existence was shot through with it.  Of her struggles, Alex remembers “I said to myself, okay, I’m going to try to do it a different way now.  I’m around good people, and it’s going to be okay.  I’m here to learn a new way to live.  My way wasn’t working, but maybe God’s will.”

As she worked the Steps, a remarkable change began to happen within her.  Alex’s character and attitude toward life began redeveloping “from the inside out” along new lines, and her obsession was lifted.  She felt like a divine hand placed her in a position of neutrality – safe and protected – with respect to drugs and alcohol.  

To Alex, the best evidence of her transformation is that, today, she confidently relies on God in all things:

I feel at peace now, whatever happens.  I won’t force things my way, because I know God’s got this.  I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m just okay with letting things happen now, because they will happen the way God wants them to be.  I don’t have to worry or stress about anything.  I tried that, did that, and I didn’t like how that felt, or how it turned out.  

Another thing Alex is especially thankful for is that recovery allows her to be a good daughter, sibling, and aunt, for her family.  “They’re excited to see me now.  It’s not like, oh there’s Alex, hide all your valuables,” she laughs, and adds “It’s the best feeling to see them and have a healthy relationship with them.  I don’t have to worry if this is the last time I see them.  I can appreciate my family now that I’m recovered.” 

Alex is also thankful that she can help make a difference in the lives of others.  When she first came to CORE, she arrived “with only the clothes on my back.” Although she didn’t have any money, Miss Kim took her shopping anyway, suggesting that she would pay it forward when she could.  Alex has never forgotten this, and recently something happened that’s allowed her to help others in a big way: she bought a new car!  “I’ve always been okay with just staying at home, but some people want to go out and do things,” she says, “so, it’s a cool way to help.  Like, if they’re struggling with money, they don’t have to get an Uber.”

Still another thing Alex is thankful for is CORE.  “I’m in a safe place, with friends,” she tells us, “this is a place where I can grow and find myself.  It’s a great place to be.”  Additionally, she considers everybody within the Springfield program to be a tight knit group.  Everybody is working the 12 Steps, and that makes CORE an oasis from everything else out there.  She adds, “So I’m big on positivity.  It’s contagious, you know?  With roommates, if I’m negative, it’s going to rub off on you.  So I try to keep it positive – always.”  

What are her plans for the future?  For now, Alex is content to mature in her recovery at CORE and enjoy spending time with her family and CORE friends.  She works hard at her job, and looks forward to advancing in her career, too.  We also heard that she’s taking on responsibilities within her CORE house as a chore coordinator, and she’s thinking about managing one of our houses someday.

We at CORE are so very pleased for Alex, and for her family!  Our hope and prayer is that she will continue to grow in her relationship with God and seek to do His will in all things (yes, driving and following the rules of the road included!)  God will provide a lifetime of recovery, and so much more, if we keep close to Him and perform His work well.

CORE Blesses Families In Need At Christmas

CORE Blesses Families In Need At Christmas

On December 8th, Cary McKee was at his office in CORE’s Branson Recovery Center when he received a telephone call.  The breathless voice at the other end sounded urgent, “We’ve got it all set up!  Cary, come and see; come look at it!

Nothing at CORE happens in a vacuum.  Cary was well aware that many of our CORE clients had been volunteering their time over at the Hollister School District.  They were making ready for an important Christmas Blessing event.  Since 2020, this event has been an annual effort to help people in need during the Christmas season.  The Hollister School District and CORE collaborate together to make this happen.

When Cary arrived to the school district, he had high hopes.  Moreover, “when I opened that door and crossed the threshold, I was blown away,” he told us.  What lay before Cary was the final product – the culmination of months of work by people connected to the school district and CORE, along with so many donations and contributions by area retailers and donors.

The previous events had been confined to a single classroom.  This year, the school district opened up an entire annex, the Tiger Pod, which was bursting with inventory.  Four classrooms, a central foyer, and main hallway were packed to the brim with housewares, toys, and so many items that families need and want.  As evidence of this abundance, we took some pictures.  The Reader should keep in mind, however, that our photos were taken after the event was in full swing, and choice areas already had been picked through!

By meeting the practical needs of children and families, the annual Christmas Blessing is ultimately intended to convey the gift of hope.  Inflation hit hard this year.  Families have had to tighten up their finances.  As Cary explained, “This may mean less for the children and nothing for parents.  Through our partnership with the Hollister School District, we’re able to enhance the holiday for the children, and for moms and dads, too.”  Over 250 students, their families, and others participated – completely free of charge. 

It’s an awesome event!  But someone may ask, how does an event of this magnitude even get started?  How did CORE, a recovery provider, become involved?  And what does the future hold?

CORE has had relationships with local retailers in Branson and Springfield for awhile now.  They have been doing their part to promote our mission of providing recovery services.  By 2019, however, it became apparent that their collective generosity could well benefit local families in need.  In fact, CORE was planning a community event to make these items available to the public when the pandemic hit.  The shutdowns, social distancing, and limitations on public spaces made this event impossible.  

Despite the pandemic, Cary was undeterred.  CORE still had a warehouse full of goods, and people were in real need.  Then came a lightbulb moment.  His children attended Hollister schools, and he remembered that the school district solicited applications from families for holiday assistance at Christmastime.  He called the superintendent of the school district, Dr. Brian Wilson.  Out of this initial call, the first Christmas Blessing room became reality in 2020, and again last year in 2021.  

Since last year’s Christmas Blessing event, CORE’s staff and clients have devoted countless hours to making 2022 the best yet.  As our Operations Manager, Gary Osborn, explained:

As soon as last year’s event was over, we immediately started collecting for this year.  We would go to about four or five different stores in Springfield and Branson every week, and we continued collecting donations every week for the next twelve months, right up to this year’s event.  It took a lot of days, with a lot of CORE volunteers, doing pick ups, and at our storage facility sorting, organizing, marking off bar codes, testing – that sort of thing, essentially going through what would be used at Christmas this year.

On the school district’s side, mobilization for this event began in earnest all the way back in October.  The school district’s holiday assistance program long predates its collaboration with CORE.  The program’s coordinator, Sandy Brown, MS Counselor, told us that it’s all about the children’s education, “When the kids get the help they need at home, they come to school better prepared to learn.”  

The school counselors took the lead on this project for the school district, which was a significant undertaking.  It involved coordination between the school district’s administrators, teachers, volunteers, donors, and families receiving assistance.  The counselors spent many late nights assuring that everything in the rooms was just right and the event would run smoothly.  Sandy even shared that, when families arrived, “the school district will have volunteers, people who shop with them and help them out.  This year is so overwhelming with so much and so many rooms.”

While the Christmas Blessing event promotes the school district’s goal of providing quality education, it also furthers CORE’s mission as a substance abuse recovery provider.  This project is one of many throughout the year created by CORE that affords clients with opportunities to express their gratitude through service.  “As addicts, we leaned on the government and on our communities,” Cary said.  “And now all of a sudden we become assets.  We’re taxpayers.  We start giving back through service.  Making amends to our communities means something to us today.”  

Cary also hopes that the Christmas Blessing event may help break down economic barriers and provide children “a spark of hope that allows them to look at life through a different colored lens.”

As soon as the event was underway, CORE’s principals began to turn their thoughts to the future.  As an example, Brandi Blom, who manages our ReStores, said “If we continue to have an overabundance, we may be able to push our outreach to others.  That would be awesome.”  Cary agreed, saying that he was so impressed by the outpouring of support for this endeavor, that “we’ll look to expand our Christmas Blessing donations to multiple other school districts and see if we can bless many more children and families in the process.”  

Cary expressed his thanks for Dr. Wilson and all of the Hollister School District’s administrators, staff, donors, and volunteers who participated in this event.  He also spoke warmly of CORE’s donors, staff, and clients.  He said that their generous support and tireless efforts made a real difference in the lives of many this Christmas season!

A Christmas Wish From CORE

A Christmas Wish From CORE

Some time ago, a baby was born in the little town of Bethlehem. His parents had arrived as travelers. There was no room for them at the inn, so the mother gave birth in a stable. The newborn was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

By outward appearances, the backdrop of this story suggests humble beginnings. But this was no ordinary child, and His birth did not go unnoticed. Both angels and a rising star proclaimed His coming. Emissaries from foreign lands arrived bearing gifts, and news of the events carried to the highest levels of government. For in this child lay the hope of all humanity. His life’s mission would be, quite simply, to save the world. He came as God’s servant, that we might have life and have it abundantly.

Christmas is a season of hope. We commemorate God becoming human in Jesus, fulfilling prophesies of old. He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows so that we might expect something better. We have been offered an unimaginably valuable gift, one that we didn’t work for and were powerless to achieve on our own. Jesus conquered death and redeemed us, that we might have life forever. God loves us that much, and that’s cause to celebrate!

At Christmas we show goodwill with cheer. There is laughter and joy, to be sure, but also kindness and compassion, gifts, and helping others. And what happens? We see faces light up, and a sense of warmth bubbles up inside of us. The Lord’s express command to act the Good Samaritan, it so happens, is no burden at all. In fact, we rather are filled with warmth, happiness and a sense of fulfillment. We are reminded of Lord’s words, that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Helping others is especially important for us who are recovered. When all of the medical and scientific measures failed, as so often happened, it was because our sickness had been spiritual all along. Once that malady was overcome, we invariably straightened out mentally and physically. By trusting God, cleaning house, and helping others, we found a new freedom and a new happiness. We who are recovered are well-advised to honor Christmas in our hearts, and to keep it all the year.

The Lord has said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness.” With this in mind, we at CORE have several holiday wishes to express.

To the still suffering addict and alcoholic:

We understand your suffering and sense of helplessness. We’ve lived it. If you feel abandoned and forgotten by others, it’s because they simply don’t know what to do. Don’t lose hope. God does have a plan for you. You can be reunited with family and friends, know true freedom and happiness, and live with meaning and purpose. Please call us. We’ll show you how it works.

To the donors and partners of CORE:

Your beautiful hearts have supported this ministry. You showed your faith through your assistance and gifts, and God has responded. He who multiplied the loaves and fishes has compounded your charity into many miraculous recoveries and good works for our surrounding communities. God’s love works powerfully through you. You’re simply the best. Thank you so much. Stand firm in the faith.

And to All, and Everyone:

May Your Christmas be Merry and Bright
with the Light of God’s Love

Dylan Butler: Surrendering to God’s Will

Dylan Butler: Surrendering to God’s Will

Ho ho ho! Meet CORE’s own Dylan Butler! In keeping with this festive season, we’ll ask the Reader to overlook his slight stature and raised ears, and see that Dylan looks very much like the rest of us. According to local lore, Dylan is reputed to be a valued holiday helper who works hard all year behind the scenes. As manager of our Falcon House, Dylan keeps watch over everybody and takes note if they are naughty or nice. And his sense of humor keeps us jolly as Christmas approaches!

Nevertheless, our grumpy Editorial Board has expressed concerns about featuring someone who bears resemblance to a certain Elf on a Shelf. We at CORE legally disclaim any similarity in appearance. Dylan’s story and all characters and incidents portrayed herein are real. No identification with persons or characters who are either injection-molded or otherwise constructed from manmade materials is intended or should be inferred.

Besides, we’re really fond of Dylan, who’s like a little brother. And don’t let his fresh-faced looks fool you. Although he’s our youngest house manager in recent memory, Dylan genuinely possesses wisdom and knowledge beyond his years. He loves God, is well-acquainted with Scripture, and knows the AA Big Book backwards and forwards. We’re really quite proud of him (even if we like to goof with him!)

Moreover, listening to his testimony, we see that his journey to recovery well illustrates the old proverb: furious activity is no substitute for understanding. His was full of activity, to be sure, but his breakthroughs came when he slowed down enough to think and get his bearings. His flashes of insight ultimately led him to make the right decisions and recover.

To start with, how bad did things get for Dylan? He was a would-be civil engineer who dropped out of college, twice, because he was unable to manage his own life. He experienced periods of homelessness, and his family feared not only for his personal safety, but also for his very life. Recalling one poignant event, Dylan with difficulty spoke about his relieved mother bursting into tears upon discovering that he was still alive. So, things were bad, and Dylan knew it. But deep inside, Dylan wanted a new life. He simply didn’t know how to accomplish it.

Like we said above, Dylan had some important insights along the way. To him, they were personal epiphanies that culminated in his decision to turn his will and life over to the care of God. The first is that he was powerless over alcohol and drugs, and the second is that he needed God’s help. The third and most important epiphany is that asking God to do what Dylan wanted was pure hubris. It put the cart before the horse and wouldn’t work. Dylan realized that his place was to submit to God’s will. Only then would God work through him to accomplish His purposes.

This crucial, missing ingredient came to Dylan during his last stint at rehab. By this time, he’d been to sober living three times, and he was on his fourth round of rehab. He’d been doing an outward appearance of the 12 Steps, too. In reality, Dylan was still living his own way – not God’s. While in rehab, Dylan was praying for a fellow friend and addict, asking God to help her find happiness by surrendering to Him. Whereupon, lightning struck:

In that moment, I didn’t hear it audibly or see the clouds open up, but I had the clearest, most profound thought. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was the most straight and crystal clear thought I’ve ever had. And that thought was “Is that not what I’ve been telling YOU this whole time?” It was God. Like He was telling me, I’m just going to give this one to you. I’m throwing you the bone; just take it.

His experience was so compelling that Dylan began to act upon it immediately. Today, Dylan works the Steps with renewed devotion, and he sees his surrender to God as the great turning point toward real recovery.

Additionally, while awaiting release from rehab, Dylan’s counselor offered some pointed advice, saying, “You’re going to Branson, Missouri, when you leave here. Check out their website. It’s called CORE.” Dylan acquiesced and arrived to CORE in June 2019. While already familiar with the AA recovery program, his initial impression of CORE was pleasant surprise. He told us, “I’d never seen the Cycle of Addiction before. It sold me whole-heartedly on what’s happening here.” He also identified several program features that aided his recovery:

CORE gave me the tools and the resources, and the time, I needed. There’s enough structure here to keep me out of trouble, but not so much so that I feel restrained or uncomfortable. There’s balance. And it’s not cookie cutter; I was handled according to my own character defects and personality traits. The community is probably the most important. The people you decide to do recovery with are some of the most important decisions you will make coming to CORE.

Dylan’s conduct in the one-year program was exemplary, in all respects. His personal map for recovery, he says, is still found in the 12 Steps:

I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I’m not worried about fighting those things anymore. I still fight real life problems every day, but I have a path to manage those. I still make mistakes, but the great thing is, that somehow I’ve tapped into a Higher Power, process, and way of living. However you want to call it, there’s a method for this in the Steps. I can sit down and ask, am I doing it, right now? [Whereupon, Dylan cites the relevant Steps, one by one] It’s a design for living that works.

The best part of recovery, he says, is that his family relationships have been restored. His mom, in particular, no longer sees him as a little boy. She talks to him as an adult and they share meaningful conversations together.

Upon commencing, Dylan decided to stay longer and help newcomers. He interviewed for our Second Mile benevolent group, and was accepted. He also received a new assignment – to become the assistant house manager at our Seahawk House on Lake Tanycomo. A year later, our program manager Kevin Hunt asked him to take over as house manager at another CORE facility, the Falcon House in Hollister. Both positions have afforded opportunities for learning and growth, but the best part of leading a CORE residence for Dylan is seeing newcomers open up to him and seek help. He also feels thrilled for everyone who commences the program.

We at CORE are so happy for Dylan, and also for his family. The final, 12th Step of the recovery program is to pay it forward. Dylan has been entrusted with a special duty, to be at the place where he is of maximum helpfulness to others. We are grateful and gladly accept all the help he offers within the CORE program. The life of one saved is worth more than their weight in gold. Frequent contact with newcomers and each other is the bright spot of our life – our passion and purpose.

Also, we’ll take up the matter of going back to college with Dylan after the holidays.

CORE House Managers Express Thanks This Holiday Season!

CORE House Managers Express Thanks This Holiday Season!

Thanksgiving Day is almost here!  It’s all about togetherness, gratitude, coziness, shelter, comfort, and happiness — the perfect time to give thanks for blessings and to spend time with family and friends.

The energy, warmth, and excitement kindled by grateful people is infectious! So, to help put everybody in the holiday spirit, we asked some of our CORE house managers what they are most thankful for.  Here are their awesome responses:

First and foremost, I’m thankful to God for never giving up on me.  And then the love and support of my family, who never gave up, either.  I’m thankful for the CORE program, too, and for Kevin Hunt, who answered my phone call and got me in.  He probably saved my life.”
– Jeremy Hampton (Seahawk House)

I’m so grateful to God for restoring my relationship with my family.  There is no word to describe how grateful I am for that.  I don’t have a word for that.  And I am completely grateful to CORE and the community and friendships found here.  My life has purpose and meaning today; it goes beyond just daily living.  There is no aspect of my life that I’m ungrateful for.  None.” 
– Tamara Spencer (6th Street House)

God thought I was worth a second chance.  The Steps allowed me to have my family back.  I’m thankful to be a good son, husband, and father now.  I’m thankful that the worst problems I have today are so minor.  I’m thankful for CORE, these 12 Steps, and for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.” 
– Dallas Conaway (Raven House)

My restored relationship with God, my family, and my newfound relationships with so many friends at CORE.  My CORE family – there’s just so much to be thankful for.” 
– Jen Brinkman (Quail House)

Relationships.  My family, my kids.  The lifelong relationships I’ve made here.  God repaired my broken relationships with my family and children.  My mom and dad are older, but when they are ready to leave this world, they’ll know I’m okay.” 
– Bracy Sams (Hawkeye House) 

The fact that I became willing to follow instructions.  I view this as a gift from God, because I heard them a million times before I actually followed them.  Just this morning an older man showed up out on the front porch.  His wife had kicked him out, put all his stuff out, but, oh yeah, he knows all about AA, goes to AA twice a week, yada yada.  Bless his heart.  He never followed the instructions.  The reality is, this man is walking around with nothing because he wasn’t willing to follow instructions.  So my willingness was a gift from God, I think, because I was that person once, walking around saying help me, but being unwilling to accept real help.” 
– Kim Stewart (Swan House)

I’m thankful that God is understanding and forgiving.  And merciful.  I’m genuinely thankful for my friends, for like minded people.  And I’m thankful to be at a place where miracles happen.  I see miracles, from start to finish, and see the differences.  Every day I ask people how they’re doing, and they say, you know, same old same old.  The next day, it’s still same old.  After awhile, I see that the same olds aren’t the same anymore.  They’re totally new people, and that’s the miracle.” 
– Neil Finley (Duck House)

I’m grateful for CORE and the foundation of eight years, and I’m thankful for all of the relationships that I’ve made this entire time.  Not just with CORE and the people in it, but over eight years of sobriety, I’ve met a lot of good people.”
– Christos Papanikas (Condor House)

I’m thankful for this program because it helped me find a relationship with God I never had before.  I’m thankful for my family, and for all of the people I have around me that help me better my life.  And thankful to God.  I have to be.  I wouldn’t be here today without Him.” 
– Mitchell Brooks (Sparrow House)

I’m thankful for finding my Higher Power.  When you’re saved, it’s something that you should know inside.  People here say, don’t leave before the miracle happens.  The first seven months I was here, I was like, when is this miracle thing going to happen?  And then one day I woke up and thought, I am the miracle.  I’m human again.  I live an adult life, and I look forward to going to work and the Center, and to seeing all the people there.  CORE gave me the structure for that to happen.  The other thing I’m thankful for are the relationships with my family.  My sisters call me out of the blue just to say hey.  My parents talk to me.  It’s a wonderful thing when that happens.”
– Chasity Downey (Outdoor House)

I’m thankful to be at the intake house and have the opportunity to help the newcomer.  I’m most thankful for having a close walk with Christ.  When I wake up in the morning and do my devotion, I know exactly what I’m supposed to do for that day.  Walking with Christ gives me direction and confidence.” 
– Nick Zahm (Blue Jay House)

I am grateful to be part of a program where I can give back what I have learned to others. CORE provided me a faith based option, and I have reconnected with Christ as my Higher Power.  I’m also grateful for all the people who come through the program.  I drive transportation, too, which gives me individual time with clients to see their growth and help guide them through the Steps and the program.” 
– Joe Redl (Cardinal House)

My son.  I’m so thankful that he has a sober mother today for our time together.  I’m thankful for all the women I’m able to lead.  And for God and the program, and for everything that He’s done for me.” 
– Alecia Short (Vaughn House)

I’m thankful for recovery, five years on, and for CORE.  And for my relationship with God.  There also is my family, especially, my grandsons.  I got my relationship back with my sister, too, who is such a strong woman.  I’m thankful for the men in my house, the Bird House, it’s a great fraternity.  And for the people at work.  They know everything about my past, and I have no secrets in my life.  I have so many good things to be thankful for.  I also want to mention the stepfather my sons had in their life when I wasn’t there.  I’m so thankful that he was in their life.  They turned out to be really good men, and that needs to be said.” 
– Scott Bourbon (Bird House)

Without God in my life and the program, there would be nothing else to be thankful for.  So, first and foremost, I’m thankful to God that I have a God conscience.  I’m thankful for the CORE program, for giving me the opportunities that I have had over the last 18 months.  And for the clients of this program, who help me work the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.” 
– Adam Guss (Eagle House)

I am thankful for open eyes – the yes’s and the no’s – for the prayers answered even when the answer is no.  I have grown from all of it.  And thankful for the space CORE gave me to grow in recovery.  I’m so thankful for my kids, 100%, for everything about them, over and over and over. ” 
– Savella Elmore (BP/Quail House)

Two things I’m most thankful for are: one, that I can talk with my mom and she’s not worried about me.  She sleeps at night without worrying about what I’m up to.  Two, the people in my life.  They call me, not to check and see if I’m alive, but because they really want to talk to me.  Or they might need something.  They can rely on me, and that’s something I could never have imagined before.  These are the things that, when I think about the people, I get emotional and stuff.” 
– Dylan Butler (Falcon House)

I’m thankful for CORE, for my sobriety, and for my relationship with God.  I’m really just thankful for everything!” 
– Alexandria Powell (CC/Swan House)

Having my family back, my kids back.  And thankful for this program and what it’s done for me.  I don’t know where I’d be without it. It helped me get back on my feet and find a better relationship with God.” 
– Tyler Hanson (Condor House)

I’m thankful for all of the blessings that God has given me.  For my family, and my CORE family.  And I’m very grateful that I have the opportunity to help others.” 
– Jennifer Mayo (Dove House)

That’s a long list, so I’m thankful to know what gratitude means, for me to be thankful today.  I didn’t understand that in my addiction.  Every day I remember where I came from and where I’m at now, and I try to pass along how to get there to the people who are still learning.  In the mornings, I thank God for all the things that I can think of, and start my day with a grateful mindset.  There’s so much, too, but I’m just grateful to be here, living out a dream that I never thought would be possible.” 
– Blake Wilson (Pelican House)

A Typical Month at CORE

A Typical Month at CORE

Some think that CORE is only about classes, can you believe it?  Now, it is true, in any given week, we offer multiple recovery classes and groups, as well as classes and meetings dedicated to spirituality, HiSET, and our EDGE and CARE programs.  But, CORE is a big place with lots going on depending on the month and season of the year.  We are way more than just classes!

So, in keeping with holiday sharing, here we will highlight our program’s activities during a typical month at CORE.  We’ll use this past month as an example.

Keep in mind that “CORE months” run roughly from one commencement ceremony to the next.  Commencements are when clients graduate the one-year recovery program.  So, we’ll start our tour with the commencements of September, and we will end with our commencements in October.

Our September 18th commencement was the last of our summer commencements, which we always hold out on Bull Creek, between Springfield and Branson.  The summer commencements begin in May of each year and give everybody a chance to mingle, swim, and frolic in the sun.  We always do a big outdoor barbeque, and September was no different.  After everybody had their fill of hotdogs and burgers, the commencements started.   In all, eleven (11) clients commenced in September.  Each graduate came forward in succession and had family members and people from CORE speak on their behalf.  All the speakers’ comments were heartfelt, especially when they were family.  However, several of the CORE speakers trended toward the lighter side (a light-hearted roast, actually!)  Upon completion of the commencements, the crowd’s attention turned to the river for the baptisms.  Sixteen (16) people were baptized, turning their will and lives over to the care of our Lord Jesus.  September’s commencement was attended by hundreds of clients, staff, and family members.

On October 1st, CORE participated in the Zombie Run at the Branson RecPlex!  CrossFit Branson organized this event.  The Reader may wonder, what is a Zombie Run, exactly?  It’s what happens when you combine a 5K race with the undead, basically.  Runners watch out!  Scary zombies are on the loose!  If caught, the runner has to do extra exercises in order to escape and continue racing.  In addition to the race, there also was great food and a raffle to win really cool prizes.  CORE is thankful to all of the runners and participants who made the event so fun and successful.  We were well represented, and our people had a blast!  See the pics of our scary zombies?  We’re especially grateful to Sabrina King at CrossFit Branson for all of her hard work.  We cannot express our gratitude enough! 

Our softball team played its last game on October 6th.  It had seen weekly action since August, when the season began for the Branson Church Softball League.  Competition this season turned out to be stiffer than ever.  After losing to a really tough opponent early in the season, our team buckled down and got busy.  We went on an 11 – 0 run to finish and win the championship tournament. The championship game happened at the Branson RecPlex, and many CORE staff and clients showed up to cheer our team on to victory.  We are so proud of their accomplishment!  Our players walked off the field with heads held high, because they are league champions for the third season in a row.  Here is a pic of our team on championship night.  Our players are, Front Row: Josh Brown, Gavin Marler, Bracy Sams, Karen Barnes, Adam Guss, Adam Weaver, Josh Weaver, and Charlie Miller; Back Row: Nick Bates, Chris Brunner, Nick Brooks, Charles Kay, Justin Hampton, Paul Otis, Shaun Burke, Jeremy Hampton, Jeana Knous, and Gary Osborn.

On October 8th, CORE participated in the Hollister Grape and Fall Festival.  Our people arrived in the wee hours of Saturday morning, mainly to organize and help vendors set up for the day.  Thankfully, parking was not an issue, because one of our CORE ReStores is right there in downtown Hollister.  By 6:00 a.m., all kinds of food trucks and local businesses, and craft vendors and nonprofits, arrived to Downing Street, which burst to life with activity.  The local FFA had a petting zoo, too, drawing praise from several among our group (baby goats are cute). After setting up, our people enjoyed the festival’s activities.  More than one returned home that day with a giant bag of kettle corn!  CORE wishes to thank everybody who helped make this event so successful! 

The following week, on October 13th, we had our Annual Shrimp & Crawfish boil.  This is a highlight event on our calendar where the donors of CORE get together for the most awesome shrimp boil this side of the Mississippi.  Guests enjoyed giant pots of yummy shrimp, crawfish, sausage, potatoes, corn, ghost peppers, and other good stuff!  

CORE is especially thankful to those who sponsored the event: Mary Haas, Combs Hospitality, Second Baptist Church, First Community Bank, Ed’s Heating and Cooling, and many of our CORE houses!  A big shout out also goes to HR Director Tami McKinney for organizing the event.  Kudos to Bracy Sams, who formulated the perfect shrimp and crawfish recipe. Thank you also to Christos Papanikas, who oversaw preparation of an amazing stuffed tenderloin for allergy-challenged attendees.  Also, our Second Milers stepped up to help serve food and drinks.  Everybody chipped in to make this event successful, really, which was just about having fun!  

October 27th also was a busy day at CORE.  All of our staff and house managers descended upon our Branson recovery center for ethics training, which took up nearly the entire day and met all requirements for those of us who needed hours required by the Missouri Credentialing Board.  The training happened in the main classroom.  As the picture shows, the room was full!  In the middle of the training we broke for lunch and had awesome pizza.  Our own Bruce Wood provided the training.  He’s not only a certified reciprocal alcohol and drug counselor but he also has so many designations after his name that they are too many to list.  He did a great job of talking about professional ethics and how they apply at CORE.

On October 20th and 27th, we completed the CORE month by holding commencement ceremonies for our Springfield and Branson programs, respectively.  Eight (8) clients in all commenced.  Again, family members spoke and expressed their thanks to God for the miracle who is their loved one in recovery.  The minor children of two clients also spoke and personally thanked CORE, which made everybody cry.   These were happy events, although everybody in attendance understood that these graduations mark a new beginning for their loved ones in recovery.  

So, these are just some of CORE’s activities over the past month.  If we added individual house activities, we would run out of space to write!