CORE’s Annual Golf Tournament Scores Big!

CORE’s Annual Golf Tournament Scores Big!

On May 16th, Tri-Lakes golfers gathered to elevate CORE’s annual golf tournament to new heights. Held at the stunning Thousand Hills Golf Resort in Branson, the event was a resounding success, boasting impressive fundraising and enthusiastic participation.

Thousand Hills Golf Resort, consistently voted “Best in Branson,” provided a breathtaking backdrop for the day. As the early morning rain showers cleared, the course glowed with a vibrant green that would make the historic links of St. Andrews envious. The verdant beauty was enhanced by deer, woodchucks, and various critters emerging from the forest, along with waterfowl swimming in the lakes. Participants and spectators alike marveled at the pristine conditions and scenic beauty of the course.

The tournament has grown significantly since 2022. From 76 golfers, this year’s event saw 112 competitors, underscoring its rising popularity and importance on the community calendar. Teams from various local businesses and groups participated, including the Branson Police Department. Friends of CORE also fielded teams, all displaying camaraderie and sportsmanship, contributing to a fun and friendly competition!

This year marked the first all-day event, as the large field of golfers made an afternoon-only schedule impractical. The extended day also allowed participants to attend CORE’s Dinner and Live/Silent Auctions later that evening.

Participants received complimentary swag bags filled with CORE-logoed golf towels, balls, tees, ball markers, and divot tools, along with sunglasses and tasty snacks for the match.  The top six teams in two flights received cash prizes ranging from $400 up to $1,200.  Prizes were awarded for hole competitions, too.

A highlight of the event was the grand prize for the hole-in-one contest: a stunning $70,000 Chevy pickup by Pinegar Chevrolet Buick GMC. Though no one claimed the prize, the challenge added excitement and anticipation to the day. Kyler Patterson, head of the Pro Shop at Thousand Hills, reported that one golfer came tantalizingly close, just two feet from a hole-in-one!

Another high point was the impressive Jeep brought by Pink Jeep Tours, not for off-roading on the course but to showcase a really exciting, alternative way to experience the Ozarks’ magic.

Gather & Graze, another event sponsor, provided a delicious lunch spread that received rave reviews. The gourmet offerings from this famous charcuterie bar ensured everyone was well-fed and had happy tummies.

All proceeds from this year’s tournament support CORE’s mission to provide effective alternatives to substance abuse and aid those affected by it. This event not only offered a day of entertainment and competition but also made a meaningful contribution to combating this critical issue within our community.  CORE is very grateful for all of the participants and sponsors, and we hope this cherished tradition continues for years to come!

A Night of Generosity: CORE’s Record-Breaking Fundraiser!

A Night of Generosity:
CORE’s Record-Breaking Fundraiser!

On May 16th, our community gathered at CORE for an unforgettable evening filled with food, fun, and philanthropy. This year’s annual dinner and auctions surpassed all expectations, breaking records and garnering unprecedented support for CORE’s mission. The evening featured a delectable dinner, a 50/50 raffle, and both live and silent auctions that kept the auditorium buzzing with excitement. It was the most successful charity event in our organization’s history, providing important support for our cause.

Publicity and Preparations

Having hosted this event for years, we prepared for a certain number of guests based on past attendance. With history in hand, our people set up CORE’s auditorium to accommodate several hundred people. However, this year’s turnout exceeded our wildest dreams. As dinner progressed, more and more supporters arrived. For the first time, our usually overprepared kitchen sold out of dinners, and additional tables were brought in to accommodate everyone. We had never seen such a large turnout!

We attribute this record-breaking attendance to our presenter, Ozarks Dynacom, whose popular family of radio stations masterfully promoted the event. Our publisher, Image Works, Inc., also played a significant role by creating beautiful ads distributed on our website, electronically, and in print.

A Feast to Remember

CORE’s culinary team set the tone for the evening with a sumptuous dinner. Guests enjoyed a mouth-watering spread featuring roast pork and chicken, accompanied by classic sides like potato salad, coleslaw, and pit beans. The culinary delights continued with a variety of scrumptious desserts, ensuring no one left unsatisfied.

The dinner was not only a feast for the palate but also a time for attendees to connect, have fun, and share their commitment to CORE’s mission.

Silent Auction Treasures

While dinner was underway, a silent auction featuring about 30 exceptional items drew significant interest and competitive bidding. The diverse selection included cozy home goods, gift certificates to local eateries, tickets to live shows and theaters, handcrafted items from local artisans, and luxurious “staycation” packages at nearby resorts. There were also certificates for local services, ensuring something for everyone. The silent auction really highlighted the generosity of our local businesses and artisans.

The Thrill of the 50/50 Raffle

The excitement ramped up with the drawing for our 50/50 raffle, which generated thousands of dollars in ticket sales at $5 per ticket. The room was electric as the winner was announced, adding a thrilling element to the night while supporting a great cause.

Live Auction Extravaganza

The highlight of the evening was the live auction, which began on a sweet note with the auctioning of pies and cakes. These homemade delights sparked intense bidding wars, setting the mood for the rest of the evening. Cakes and pies fetched hundreds of dollars apiece as generous bidders competed to support our charity. The excitement continued as the auction transitioned to larger, highly coveted items.

As an example, one standout item was a limited edition football donated by the Kansas City Chiefs, drawing a winning bid of over a thousand dollars. Additionally, a blade made by “Forged in Fire” champion Davy Wilson and a hand-built AR-15 also brought in several thousands more.  Entertainment and staycation packages, a kayak, and a unique fishbowl filled with money were among the other highlights. Remarkably, the winner of the fishbowl donated the money back to CORE, embodying the evening’s spirit of generosity.  In all, over 50 items went up for bid at the auction.

A Record-Breaking Success

During the evening, our CEO Cary McKee took the stage to thank all attendees, sponsors, and those who donated auction items. He was overwhelmed (for good reason!) by the sincere generosity of everyone who contributed. By night’s end, the combined proceeds from the dinner, raffle, and auctions marked this event as CORE’s most successful fundraiser to date. The overwhelming turnout and enthusiastic participation surpassed all expectations, reflecting the community’s deep commitment to CORE’s mission.

A Heartfelt Thank You!

From all of us at CORE, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who attended, donated, and supported our event. The outpouring of generosity is a testament to the bonds within our community and our shared dedication to helping individuals escape a life of substance abuse. CORE’s mission is to provide the most effective recovery program available, and the funds raised at this event will greatly further our efforts in 2024!

Step Seven and Recovery: A Tale of Two Centuries

Step Seven and Recovery:
A Tale of Two Centuries

No alcoholic or addict can ever hope to recover without profoundly reorienting their attitude and relationship toward life and the world around them.  Step Seven found in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is central to this transformation.  It provides:

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

This step, in operation with preceding steps where we identify and admit our shortcomings, sparks a deep and effective personality change that revolutionizes our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God’s universe.  The Big Book calls this change a “spiritual experience,” without which no addict or alcoholic can be returned to health.  

No matter what sort of therapy a client pursues, this vital, spiritual experience is the determining factor that separates persons who live “happy, joyous, and free,” on the one hand, from those who are consigned to an existence spent in the shadow of a chronic relapsing disease, on the other.  

From time to time, we hear neophytes in our recovery program ask what alcoholics did before there was Step 7.  Were they just out of luck? Was there any help for them at all?  These are awesome questions, because addiction and alcoholism didn’t just spring into being when Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith formed Alcoholics Anonymous.  America had been keenly preoccupied with alcoholism for more than 100 years before AA.  Understanding this highlights not only why the 12 Steps were a ground-breaking response to treating this disease, but also why they remain the most effective treatment therapy in existence today.

The rapid rise of alcohol-related problems in America during the 1800’s spawned what history calls The Temperance Movement, a myriad of social and political initiatives, mutual aid societies, and networks of homes, hospitals, and institutes, loosely connected by a common goal to persuade or help people moderate or eliminate their consumption of alcohol. One of the most prominent organizations was the Murphy Movement.  We will comment on this one because it typifies America’s interest in temperance and the results of its efforts.  

Frankly, when Francis Murphy came to town, it was the biggest event its inhabitants had ever seen.  A temperance parade would roll down the city’s cobblestone streets, surrounded by townsfolk, street vendors, and protestors made up largely of women and children holding temperance signs.  The rally itself happened in the city exhibition hall or large church building.  There, the spectators eagerly awaited the man of the hour, Francis Murphy.  That man understood temperance.  An Irishman, saloon keeper, convicted killer, and former inebriate, Murphy had given his life to God, reformed, and gratefully devoted his life to the temperance cause.   

The program included victory reports from around the country and testimonies of interested people.  If available, a town drunk might take the stage promising to sign the temperance pledge and stay sober. A children’s choir commonly serenaded the crowd with beloved temperance tunes. As the rally drew to a close, Murphy would plead with the audience to save themselves and their families and communities.  Above all, he called for them to sign the so-called temperance pledge, which conveniently was printed on a card.  It read:

With Malice Toward None, and Charity for All

I the undersigned, do PLEDGE my word and honor,


to abstain from ALL Intoxicating Liquors as a beverage, and that

I will, by all honorable means, encourage others to abstain.

During his career spanning four decades, Murphy obtained more than 10,000,000 signatures in America alone.  That’s more than 15% of the United States’ average census population.  And remember – Murphy was but one of hundreds of champions for temperance who toured the country.  

Having enjoyed such wide support, we might expect that The Temperance Movement found success in getting and keeping alcoholics sober.  But that’s not what happened.  While moderate and heavy drinkers as a whole reported some relief, the alcoholics remained unaffected.  The movement’s results turned out to be exactly what the popular Victorian writer Samuel Smiles feared: “Try and reform a … habitually drunken person, and in a large majority of cases you will fail.”

Nationwide, the consumption of alcohol remained steady, as did alcohol-related crimes and poverty.   A pessimistic mood began to take hold that the “moral persuasion” methods of The Temperance Movement had failed.   Reformers turned to political action, seeking alcohol bans at the local, state, and national levels, culminating in the passage of Prohibition in 1919.  

Now, during the temperance period there were some reported cases of alcoholics who actually recovered.  Francis Murphy was one of them, as were some other temperance reformers.  The noted American psychologist William James also reported cases in “The Varieties of Religious Experience” (1902).  What secret did these recovered alcoholics know that others didn’t?  The common belief was that their return to health was effected by their religious conversions generally.  It was not until 1908, however, when a Lutheran minister by the name of Frank Buchman made a wonderful discovery that put the nuts and bolts of these recoveries into clear perspective.     

At the time of his discovery, Buchman actually was attending a religious convention in Great Britain.  Significantly, leaving America for Great Britain Buchman also had been embroiled in a funding dispute with his organization’s board of directors, and the matter weighed heavily on him.  He’d been wronged and harbored deep resentments.  Sometime during the convention, however, during a moment of reflection, he experienced an epiphany.  Buchman would later say: 

I sat there and realized how my sin, my pride, my selfishness and my ill-will, had eclipsed me from God in Christ.  …I was the center of my own life. That big “I” had to be crossed out. I saw my resentments against those men standing out like tombstones in my heart. I asked God to change me and He told me to put things right with them. It produced in me a vibrant feeling, as though a strong current of life had suddenly been poured into me and afterwards a dazed sense of a great spiritual shaking-up.

The vibrant feeling and spiritual shake-up within Buchman were a part of what AA calls a “spiritual experience”.  In Buchman’s case, this experience included him putting right all of the things in his life that he knew were objectionable.  The effect was electric.  This previously moody, unhappy soul was seized with a new outlook on life.  In place of lifelong selfish habits there emerged within him a light, power, freedom, and happiness that seemed to defy explanation.

We want here to impress the enormity of Buchman’s experience on the Reader.  By way of further illustration, please consider Luke 6 where the Lord gives the Sermon on the Plain.  The Lord asks his listeners, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” and urges them to do the unthinkable, to wit, “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great.”  In the same passage, He also says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give, and it will be given to you… For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

In modern times, we may be tempted to think that Jesus is fond of hyperbole, that He is overstating matters to make a point.  Alternatively, we might see these things as simple injunctions against bad behavior presumably intended to help crotchety people get along with each other.  But, what if the Lord had something more in mind?  What if these teachings aren’t intended as simple do’s and don’ts.  What if He said these things knowing that there is an altogether uncommon blessing awaiting those who actually do them?  

What Buchman discovered is that taking the Lord’s words at face value and vigorously applying them results in an unexpected gift: a sense of peace, liberation, empowerment and fulfillment for which no material thing or pleasure can ever substitute.  The command to love our neighbors as ourselves, paradoxical as it seems, principally is meant for us.  We are the primary beneficiaries, and our daily adherence to this command also imbues us with a profound sense of meaning, purpose, and gratitude.  We feel, as C.S. Lewis might say, “surprised by joy.” 

Buchman proceeded to tell others about this wonderful thing which he had found, ultimately leading to the creation of the Oxford Group.  The group was roundly criticized for being short on theology, but nobody questioned the inner character and overwhelming spiritual vitality of its membership.  The seemingly novel wisdom of the group was brought to the United States by a clergyman, Sam Shoemaker.  Here, it was passed on to the alcoholic Ebby Thatcher, who shared it with Bill W.  

Buchman’s approach carried weight and depth; it was able to reach alcoholics and relieve them of their illness.  Their minds renewed, the grip of drink fell from them like foul garments.  The alcoholics within the Oxford Group not only quit drinking, they remained quit as long as they maintained their spiritual fitness.  To family, friends, and associates (not to mention, themselves) it was a miracle.

Bill W, beaten down by alcohol and desperate, proved to be a willing student.  Fortunately for alcoholics everywhere, he also was an astute observer and meticulous thinker.  Bill W reformulated the lessons learned from the Oxford Group into the 12 Steps, making the spiritual experience available to all who worked the steps.  Henceforth, alcoholics actually recovered from what the medical and scientific communities previously believed to be a hopeless condition of mind and body.  

As a practical matter, in Step 7 we are going to eliminate our shortcomings and change them with new behaviors.  We’re going to swap our defects of character for virtues.  It’s not necessary that we put pen to paper again, because the previous steps have made us well aware of our faults, circumstances in which they manifest, and what is needed to turn these weaknesses into strengths.  Our mental list, however, might look something like this:


Understanding our mission, we humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.  The Big Book suggests the following prayer:

My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.

If we are mindful and do our part working this step, the spiritual experience happens automatically.  God gives us a new heart, and he puts a new spirit in us.  He removes from us our heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh.  See Ezekiel 36:26.  We find ourselves surprised by joy, imbued with a sense of peace, liberation, and gratitude that transcends material concerns, and the obsession for alcohol is lifted.  Spirituality becomes a guiding force in our lives, empowering us to live authentically and to manage our lives in accordance with God’s will.  

Counselor Bruce Wood: Making a Difference

Counselor Bruce Wood: Making a Difference

Meet Bruce Wood!  He’s a seasoned substance abuse counselor who has dedicated 40 years of his life to helping people find their way to recovery. His career is marked by his commitment to understanding the complexities of addiction, adapting to the evolving landscape of substance abuse, and most importantly, participating in the transformation of countless lives.

Bruce’s professional venture into counseling began in 1984.  His motivation stemmed from personal experience and his college education. Growing up in an alcoholic home, he felt a calling to help others navigate the challenges of addiction. Despite initially preparing for a medical career, Bruce says his Higher Power guided him towards counseling, where he found his true calling.  “I could see that this was what I’m supposed to do.  I was set for a medical career, just waiting for the semester to start.  When the time came, I’d already committed in my head and heart to do counseling.”

Over the course of his distinguished career, Bruce has worked with all of the big names in Springfield – the hospitals, the behavioral health centers, and also Springfield Public Schools.  He even owned his own clinic for a time.  As owner and manager, he oversaw more than a dozen counselors, but he tells us that “administration wasn’t my cup of tea.” What Bruce really wanted was to do client care, so when an opportunity in Branson opened for him in 2011, he answered the call.  For the next ten years, he conducted counseling, groups, and SATOP classes.  Then came the Covid pandemic and a decision to retire.  “I decided to retire after two years of Covid, where I did treatment out of my living room by computer.  It had become so impersonal sitting at a computer screen.  So, I thought maybe this would be a good time to bow out, to retire,” Bruce says.  

Happily, his decision was short-lived, and it was a telephone call with CORE’s CEO Cary McKee that marked the turning point.  As if reliving the moment out loud, Bruce recalls, “I called Cary just to talk.  I had six weeks into retirement.  I said to him, ‘Cary, I’m tired of fishing.  I’ve had my fill.  I’ve got to figure out something to do.’  When I mentioned some agencies who might be looking for a counselor, he said he’d been wanting to create the CARE program. I said, ‘I’d be willing to develop that if you need help.’” Within two weeks, Cary called Bruce back, seeking his expertise to plan, develop, and conduct our CARE relapse prevention and awareness program for individuals committed to maintaining sobriety.

Bruce has been at the helm of the CARE program for more than two years.  It’s designed to address the Cycle of Relapse and is a client-driven initiative. It supports individuals who have experienced lapses in the past but are determined to recover.  For the program to work, Bruce says that it’s vitally important to address the early stages of relapse, such as fleeting ideas and toying with fantasies, to prevent progression to more critical stages of relapse.  He also sees as significant the fact that participation is wholly voluntary, saying “In 40 years, this is the first time I’ve ever worked with people who genuinely and consistently want recovery.  Before, many wanted recovery services but were driven by the legal system or family expectations.  It wasn’t always coming from within.  No matter how much mom wants me to recover, or I want to do it for mom, the motivation has to come from within.  Anything else won’t work.”

From a numbers standpoint, the CARE program has been a smashing success.  Despite this accomplishment, Bruce says that the true reward of counseling lies in watching clients break free from the shackles of addiction. The more he sees a client’s shame being replaced by healing, and they find their way back to the life they’ve always wanted, the more driven he becomes to stay on task.  His satisfaction is further exemplified by encounters in public spaces where former clients approach him with shouts of triumph, proudly declaring their sobriety:

It happens, you know?  I might be in a place like Walmart and hear somebody call out ‘Bruuuuuce!’  It’s a former client, and they’re hollering all the way across the store – ‘I’m clean and sober!’  I’m like, wow, this is really happening.  Even here at CORE, there are people who show up to my door just to tell me how they’re doing.  There’s nothing more gratifying than that, helping to make a difference.  Counseling is a rewarding profession if you’re a people person and like to see others grow and help them along the way.

Bruce’s impact extends far beyond his office at CORE.  His legacy is marked by the countless lives he has touched and helped transform. As a compassionate advocate for recovery, Bruce continues to be a shining beacon of hope. In his own words, counseling is not just a profession for him.  “I’m right where I need to be,” he says.

CORE wholeheartedly agrees with his assessment and offers him the following shout-out: Thank you Bruuuuuce! We are so delighted and honored to have him as part of our team. We eagerly anticipate many more years of continued collaboration!  

Why Do We Do Step Six?

Why Do We Do Step Six?

Step Six says, “[We w]ere entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

The step is briefly worded, and the Big Book offers a single paragraph of explanation, essentially instructing us to evaluate our willingness and to pray for willingness where lacking.

To newbies and the uninitiated, the purpose of this step may appear elusive.  It clearly addresses our willingness to have God remove negative character traits, but why an addict should be concerned with this isn’t immediately apparent.  The temptation is to think our proper focus should be upon removing the attachment to drugs and alcohol.  Step Six actually helps do this, as we explain below.

In 12 Step meetings, members will use various illustrations to explain the importance of Step Six for recovery.  Two popular stories involve “dropping the rock” and the “monkey trap.”

Dropping the rock in recovery is likened to a boat journey to an island called Serenity. One passenger struggles to swim to the boat, weighed down by a rock symbolizing fears, resentments, and other character defects. Urged to ‘Drop the rock!’ by those already onboard, she releases her character defects, reaches the boat safely, and finds lasting serenity.

In the monkey trap story, usually set in a forest or jungle, a hunter places a treat in a container with a small hole. The monkey eagerly grasps the treat but becomes trapped because its fist won’t fit back through the hole. The treat symbolizes our character defects, and our instinctive refusal to let them go leads to dire consequences.  (Our CEO Cary McKee tells a similar story about someone getting their hand stuck in a vending machine!)  

These stories are fine for what they are.  They illustrate that character defects are bad and letting go of them is good.  Still, they don’t fully satisfy everyone wanting to know how Step Six concerns recovery.  There still will be somebody who thinks such stories are more relevant if the rock or treat represents a pint of whiskey, or an illicit drug (i.e., drop the bottle!) 

For this reason, we’ll explain the relevance of Step Six to recovery more fully here.  Hopefully, our explanation also will illuminate the genius behind the 12 Steps, and why the world’s leading journal for systematic medical reviews has found that the 12 Steps are more effective than any other recovery therapy in existence. 

While addiction is a complex disease involving a myriad of factors, one thing common to every addict and alcoholic is that they are selfish and self-centered.  They prioritize their own desires over those of others.  Their addiction is an insatiable hunger that cannot be satisfied.  The addict and alcoholic ends up devoting all of their waking hours to assuring their appetite is provided for.  They will neglect or become completely indifferent to the regular concerns of life – spouse, children, family, friends, career, home, health, and other matters.  In time, they will lose these relationships along with every good thing in their lives, and possibly life itself. 

Selfishness—self-centeredness,” the Big Book says, “that, we think, is the root of our troubles.”

This observation not only is insightful but it also suggests the remedy.  Insofar as the heart of the addict and alcoholic is selfish and self-centered, the 12 Steps together operate to perform a heart transplant on the sufferer.  For real, lasting recovery, we have to become others-centered.  

The Big Book is emphatic about this, saying that “Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery.”  Even in a first meeting with a prospective client, the book directs us to “suggest how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own.”  

If our personal experiences and our experience at CORE with thousands of clients teaches anything, it is this: the psyche of a caring, altruistic person is incompatible with the persona of a suffering addict or alcoholic.  They can’t co-exist.  It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – it simply can’t be done.

Accordingly, at CORE we hear clients report that their obsession for alcohol and drugs – which may have hounded them for years – suddenly “lifted” or “evaporated,” or that they woke up in the morning and realized that their obsession was “just gone”.  It can happen that fast.  Once the internal switch flips, and the mental focus goes from self-serving to serving others, the obsession is gone.  It remains expelled so long as the individual is committed to obeying the Lord’s command, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” 

As the Reader undoubtedly has noticed, the 12 Steps are a spiritual program of recovery.  They facilitate a deep and fundamental change in our inner self that really is akin to receiving a new heart. The transformation goes far beyond simply abstaining from illicit substances, although complete sobriety certainly results from this process.  So long as we maintain this spiritual fitness, no person, or place, or thing can tempt us into a relapse, either.

To genuinely recover, however, the mere promise to be a better person won’t cut it.  And, while our personal effort is needed to accomplish this, by itself our effort is insufficient.  As the Big Book observes,

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.”

The idea of God changing human hearts and attitudes is an ancient one, confirmed by thousands of years of human experience.  We won’t belabor it here except to observe that God never fails.  There may be atheists out there who are uncomfortable with this idea.  They are the same people who scratch their heads wondering why the 12 Steps are so much more effective in treating addiction than any other evidence-based therapy.

Now we’re ready to talk about Step Six, although the Reader should note that, by the time we get to this important step, we’ve already begun seeking God’s help with matters raised in prior steps.  Importantly, we’ve also gone on a fact finding mission in prior steps.  We’ve done a deep soul-searching inventory to become well-acquainted with all of the specific ways in which we are selfish and self-centered.  That is, we already will have identified our “defects of character.”

The Big Book variously calls such defects “flaws in our make-up,” “shortcomings,” and “wrongs,” but they are one in the same. Character defects are the manifestations of our self-centeredness.  Self-centered people, moreover, practically wear character defects on their sleeves.  They encompass personality flaws like being resentful, fearful, dishonest, prideful, self-deluded, self-pitying, impatient, intolerant, and other obvious faults.  

Practically speaking, even as our self-centeredness fuels the inner obsession for illicit substances, many of its outer manifestations leads to our failures in life and makes our lives unmanageable.  To illustrate, we’ll make this simple.  We must admit that we’d have a hard time putting up with a spouse, family member, friend, co-worker, employer, or employee who embodies such defects, right?  As it turns out, so do they! 

Furthermore, by the time we get to Step Six, we should be well beyond self-deluded notions like, “I was a happy drunk and everybody loved me.”   In fact, “an alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature,” and our previous step work should have grounded us sufficiently to see how our character defects create only misery for ourselves and others.   At Step Six, we’re also beyond getting bogged down by guilt and shame.  We’re sensitized to our shortcomings and are free to stop doing them.  This is good news – we don’t have to live like this anymore.  God will change our hearts accordingly, if we are humble and willing.

Step Six is really a stop-and-think point, a moment of self-evaluation.  The Big Book asks, “Are we now ready to let God remove from us all the things which we have admitted are objectionable?”  If there is a character defect we’re unwilling to let go, “we ask God to help us be willing.”  Such instances happen under various circumstances.  One common sticking point is clinging to resentments.  We feel righteous indignation and declare we can forgive many things but never, not ever this or that person for what they have done. 

Character defects that we refuse to quit usually are the same culprits that keep us sick and make our lives unmanageable.  For the addict or alcoholic, they can be fatal.  Fortunately, a struggling client at CORE is surrounded by a large recovery community who can and will spot character defects from a mile away.  This is especially beneficial.  The client always finds sympathetic, patient, and interested peers standing by, ready to help. 

Over time the moment of self-evaluation described in Step Six becomes habit, part of our new way of thinking while living in the 12 Steps.  Personally spotting character defects means greater insights about ourselves.  We become accustomed to meeting the individual challenges posed by this step, seeing them as opportunities for personal growth.

Importantly, removing defects of character is only part of the recovery equation.  Looking ahead to next month, we’ll talk about replacing our character defects with virtues and making ourselves more fit to help others!

Kristi Kenkel’s God-Given Purpose

Kristi Kenkel’s God-Given Purpose

Meet Kristi Kenkel!  Having arrived to CORE in September, 2021, Kristi is working the 12 Steps and has recovered.  She actively contributes to our program as a 4D Recovery instructor, 2nd Mile member, mentor for newcomers, and avid volunteer.

In fact, Kristi volunteers for so many things at CORE, we never know where we’ll run across her path.  She was quite the sight some months ago at CORE’s golf tournament.  We saw her standing on the back of a fast-moving golf cart, pointing out sponsor signs to be collected.  She kind of reminded us of a sailing ship captain atop of the quarter deck, shouting out orders to sailors below.  

Happily, just the other day, we caught up with her at CORE’s Recovery Center in Branson, where she was getting ready to teach class. Standing behind a podium, she wasn’t going anywhere.  So, we snapped her photo and, after class ended, we dragged her in for a chat about life, addiction, and recovery.

Kristi isn’t shy with her opinions, confidently declaring “God has given me purpose; this place has become like my home.  If all I do is help newcomers understand the 12 Steps and recognize that God is the answer, that’s enough for me.” 

Her insightful words reflect the wisdom of someone who has faithfully embarked on a genuine recovery journey.  They contrast starkly with the 20-something person who arrived here two years ago, who’d never been to a rehab in her life and had no idea what the 12 Steps even were.

Kristi’s spiral into addiction lasted six years, disrupting her promising college career in biochemistry and life sciences.  Adept in math and science, she was a straight-A student who’d made the dean’s list multiple times.  However, the allure of the party and club scenes proved to be her downfall.    

At first, it was just alcohol.  “I didn’t see a problem in what I was doing because I’d always made good choices; I didn’t see any consequences from it,” she says.  Then a friend introduced her to opiates which, she recalls, “gave me the feeling I was looking for.  I’d never felt confident or comfortable in my own skin.  They made me feel at ease, confident and comfortable with myself.”

Kristi not only abandoned her studies, but she also lost jobs, wrecked cars, and strained ties with her mother and family.  After switching from opiates to methamphetamines, she lived a perilous existence, couch-surfing and resorting to desperate measures, “whether to beg, borrow, or steal”.  Meth, she says, “started taking my self-esteem away.  I never thought that I could become that person, who would be on drugs like that.”      

She identifies an abusive relationship she suffered as the lowest time of her life.  Kristi saw no hope of ever getting out and despaired of her future, but then fortune smiled upon her in a most unforeseen way.  “I got caught on a possession charge for methamphetamines.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me, even if I didn’t see it at the time,” she says.  

While sitting in jail, Kristi encountered a fellow inmate who spoke highly of CORE. “She said that it was the best time of her life, that it worked and she was doing good, but she’d fallen off the program and relapsed.”  Kristi grasped onto her words like a life preserver.  She doesn’t remember the person’s name today, only that her claim turned out to be prophetically true: the 12 Step program works if you work it.

When Kristi decided to seek help, the court made an order sending her to CORE.  Her family, notably her mother, with whom she had little contact, arrived to her support.  “I stayed the night at my mom’s house for the first time in six years.  My mom and little brother drove me here,” she recalls.  

Upon arrival, Kristi quickly learned about the cycle of addiction and how it applied to her.  She’d always denied, minimized, confused, or rationalized her attachment to drugs, but what she learned at CORE “made perfect sense,” she says, adding “I’d always asked why I’m different.  People said I had a problem, but I never understood why.  When the cycle was right in front of me, I knew.  I am different, and I saw why.”

In addition, Kristi came to believe that God had been looking out for her all along. There had been opportunities for her to leave her abuser, in fact, but she never acted upon them.  It took what Kristi saw as the most unlikely of circumstances – the criminal charge, jail, the enigmatic (yet inspiring) claims of her cell mate – to carry her to a place of complete safety, where people understood her circumstances and honestly wanted to help.  “He was looking out for me.  He did that.  He’d answered my prayer.”  Kristi then accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior; shortly thereafter, she was baptized.

She also had the fortune to land a job with an employer who understood her connection to CORE.  In fact, her manager had been a client here, too, and took genuine interest in Kristi’s progress.  Kristi remembers “She kept asking where I was on the steps, about my fourth step, and fifth.”  Impatient with her efforts, the manager issued an ultimatum.  “She said, well, you’re not coming back to work until you do them.  I actually ended up doing my 5th Step with her.” 

Kristi says upon completing these important steps her spiritual experience was “immediate.”  “I felt different inside, like a weight had been lifted from me.  I felt free.  In the hallways, instead of looking down, I could look straight ahead and smile.”  Kristi then began to tackle her character defects and started making her amends. A perceptible, personality change accompanied her progress.  Her obsession was lifted, and Kristi developed a heart for service.  “It wasn’t about me anymore,” she says, “it’s boring if I’m not helping others because, it was like, then what am I even here for?”

Her relationship with family, especially her mother, definitely has been restored.  A veritable caravan of family members showed up for Kristi’s graduation ceremony from CORE’s one-year program.  “My mom, stepdad, older and younger brothers, stepbrothers, my other stepbrother’s wife, uncle, stepmom and her husband,” she notes out loud.  Kristi absolutely beams while telling us “I talk to my mom every day now.  She doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night wondering where I am, whether I’m still here, or if I’m still breathing.  It’s great to have family back in my life, a family that trusts me to be at home!” 

Kristi talked at length about her recovery, the exciting projects she’s been part of, and her hopes for new adventures in the future (like mission trips with the 2nd Milers).  Still, the best part of recovery for Kristi is simply living serenely, in the present:

I used to take the little things for granted, without being present in the moment, like conversations with people, and never enjoying simple things like cooking, going out with friends, or watching movies together.  I live in the present now and remember, and I don’t take anything for granted.  I never thought I’d be happy, or have a personality or peace of mind, sober.  I never thought I’d have anything.  Now, being here, the 12 Steps, God, recovery – with all of this – I can have it all!”

We at CORE are overjoyed by Kristi’s commitment to God and her remarkable recovery journey.  Our hope is for her continued growth in both her sobriety and her relationship with God.  May all the dreams she envisions for her newfound life materialize toward a future filled with fulfillment, joy, and purpose.  We’ll continue to stand by her side, unwavering in our support for her beautiful journey that lies ahead.

The Christmas Blessing Store Turns Four!

The Christmas Blessing Store Turns Four!

In December, amid the glittering lights and festive cheer of the holiday season, a beacon of hope and encouragement was set up at the Hollister School District.  For the fourth consecutive year, CORE and the school district collaborated to establish the Christmas Blessing Store, allowing people to shop for household goods and toys without limits and at no charge.  This annual initiative not only emphasized the spirit of Christmas giving but also served as a powerful reminder of the impact achievable through community action.

The Christmas Blessing Store extended initial blessings to 124 families with 284 children, spanning grades PK through K-12.  One out of every five children in the Hollister School District received items from the store!  And that’s just the beginning of its impact.

This project is one of several humanitarian initiatives that CORE engages in throughout the year.  CEO Cary McKee articulated the philosophy, stating, “Recovery teaches that we can’t keep what we don’t give.” His insight underscores the importance of active service in overcoming addiction.  Helping others provides an avenue to get out of “self” – the root of all addictions.

The Christmas Blessing Store originated in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic when social distancing ordinances made a public initiative unfeasible.  Cary sought a partnership with Hollister public schools, relying on the school district’s ability to identify individuals who would benefit from donated goods.

To appreciate the magnitude of this event, consider the time and factors involved. The project’s genesis lies in the generosity of area retailers, whose donations reflect a commitment to corporate social responsibility.  By acting as the “Secret Santas,” these retailers inspired the participants to direct the donations toward quality of life needs within the community.

CORE volunteers contributed thousands of hours to the project, with operations manager Gary Osborn explaining, “Our work for this project began a year ago, as soon as the last event concluded. Every Tuesday, we’d make donation pickups from area retailers, continuously for 52 weeks.”

With donations pouring in, CORE’s Branson warehouse rapidly filled, necessitating yet another volunteer workforce to organize, sort, group, and ensure individual products were of merchantable quality.  House manager Caren Barnes coordinated these activities for the warehouse, which required additional volunteers throughout CORE.  “Over the course of 8 months, I went through the whole program.  It was different people every week, not just my house,” she said.    

In November, CORE transported a year’s worth of labor and merchandise to the school district, prompting immediate action by the district’s staff and volunteers. Sandy Brown, overseeing the district’s efforts, explained, “The first CORE trucks came in on November 19th, and most of the day-to-day work was done by the counselors, working with CORE people who did a phenomenal job organizing. We had help from different classes, too, including gifted classes assisting with toys and bicycles, along with students in our community-based learning program.”

While the Christmas Blessing Store emerges as a win-win project for all of the participants, everyone who contributed to this initiative emphasized the children as a key motivating factor. Sandy affirmed, “Everything that Hollister does is for the kids and helping ensure that every child is successful.” Cary added, “It’s about serving the community and school district, but most importantly, the children. It’s about creating a lasting Christmas memory, where the promises of joy and surprise loom large.”

Our pictures were taken while this event was in progress – after a substantial number of individuals already had shopped at the store.  Cary observed that further expansion is in order.  “We’re still receiving items even now.  We’ll look to expand our reach in the coming year and beyond, by reaching other school districts in the eastern Taney County,” he said.  Merchandise not distributed at this event went to other nonprofits that could put these items into the right hands.  

Cary expressed his sincerest thanks to the school district, area retailers, volunteers, and staff who contributed to make this year’s Christmas Blessing Store such a success.

Jeremy Hampton: Little Drummer Boy

Jeremy Hampton: Little Drummer Boy

“The Little Drummer Boy” is a familiar holiday tune about a poor young boy who performs for Baby Jesus.  While the song itself is a Christmas classic, the Rankin & Bass TV version received only a lukewarm response in Nielsen ratings.  Children were put off by the lead character, who wore a wooden expression on his face throughout.  He never smiled – not when his pet lamb was miraculously healed, and not even when Baby Jesus smiled at him.  

In hindsight, we think the Rankin & Bass production was ahead of its time, but 50 years ago there just wasn’t anybody out there with enough charisma for the lead role.  Today, we know of the perfect person.  He possesses the excitement, poise, and glamour needed for the protagonist’s part.  With piercing eyes framed by a rugged face and well-groomed beard, our guy even has an infectious smile.    

Meet Jeremy Hampton!  CORE Church members readily recognize Jeremy as the accomplished drummer for our popular praise and worship band.  His resume doesn’t end there.  He’s also a house manager, recovery instructor, spirituality class teacher, softball team member, and volunteer for CORE special projects.  Jeremy is able to serve in these positions because he has recovered.  

While people today have difficulty picturing this, five years ago Jeremy was a struggling addict who hit rock bottom.  He told us “I was doing a lot of meth, weed, everything.  I was 118 pounds and malnourished.  I was sleepng in my car and miserable.  I was dying.”  His predicament was the product of denial and blaming others.  “My thinking was that I just needed to get away, change my location and friends, then I’d be fine,” he recalls, “it all made sense in my head at the time.”  Jeremy shook his head while telling us this, and we understand why.  Within CORE, we know that such thinking is eternally wrong.  Unfortunately, it’s terribly common with an addict trapped in the cycle of addiction.  

By the end of his last spree, everything Jeremy had worked for in life was gone, again, and this time he had nobody to turn to for help.  The moment finally had come for him to quit, but he couldn’t, no matter how hard he tried.  In desperation he called our program manager Kevin Hunt who, Jeremy says, “answered my phone call and got me in [CORE]; he probably saved my life.”

Jeremy worked his recovery program in earnest and, after 6 months, was doing Steps 10, 11, and 12 daily.  He vividly remembers the exact moment when he “suddenly realized” – in the Big Book’s words – “that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”  Jeremy was at his place of employment, a local resort:

I opened a drawer, and there was a bag of dope.  I’d never expected to see that there, but I went and flushed it without really even thinking.  Five minutes later, it hit me.  There was no craving or desire.  My mind didn’t race about how I could do it without getting caught.  And that’s when I knew it; the miracle had begun.  It was an awesome realization.

Jeremy credits his recovery to God, who he sees as loving, forgiving, and understanding of his past.  He maintains conscious contact with Him by “expressing willingness, by doing the act of getting on my knees, praying, and by doing the steps.”

He shows gratitude to God through abundant service work.  Within a few months of his recovery, Jeremy went through our presenter’s training and began studying the AA Big Book cover to cover.  In his first class, he told us, “I was so nervous.  My mouth was dry and I could hardly talk.”  He walked through fear by faith, nevertheless, and now Jeremy’s recovery classes are always popular with clients.  In time, he also began helping teach our weekly spirituality classes which, he says “probably helps me more than it helps anybody else.  It makes me really dig into scripture and learn.”

At CORE, we are so very happy and pleased for Jeremy!  We sincerely hope that his association with us bears fruit and continues for years to come.  But – what does Jeremy see for his future?  His answer for us was altogether encouraging.

He enjoys his profession in real estate, but he also feels that God may be leading him into working full-time with clients in recovery.  There has been talk of CORE possibly opening a third recovery center.  Jeremy hints that if this does happen, he may be interested in helping get this started and underway.  He said, “that looks like where my calling and destiny is headed, where God wants me.  It’s in the recovery field, and I’m at the point where I need to surrender and give into what God wants.”

Ordinarily, we might conclude Jeremy’s story here.  We know, however, that many Readers are fans who really want to hear about Jeremy’s musical career.  We dug hard to get this information, which is 100% true, so here goes.

Jeremy always had a knack for music.  He remembers rhythmically beating on pots and pans as a toddler.  When he was 7 years-old, Santa Claus brought him a “Fraggle Rock” drum set – a child-sized, working drum kit, with Jeremy’s favorite Muppets shown on the bass drum!  

While these seem like humble beginnings, Jeremy already was on a trajectory toward musical greatness.  He never had formal lessons and didn’t need them.  He rose from being first chair in junior high, to jamming with garage bands in high school.  By his early 20’s, Jeremy played with a local rock band whose popularity took it to towns up and down the Mississippi River.  Sadly, his musical career was derailed by drugs.

In Jeremy’s mind, being a member of CORE’s band today is a great blessing.  When given the opportunity to play, Jeremy says, “I was grateful and cherished it.  I still do.”  In our humble opinion, his performances are central to the band’s pulsating energy, a conduit of raw power.  His drumsticks seem to blur in a whirlwind of controlled chaos, yet his limbs move with precision and dynamic athleticism.  Each rhythmic crash of his cymbals sends the crowd into excitement, mesmerized by sound, movement, and spectacle alike.  

It’s a pity we don’t have an actual pic of Jeremy performing, because it’s really something.  Happily, our graphic artist has been kind enough to make a fun facsimile that gives Readers a mental picture.  He looks something like this:

A Christmas Wish from CORE

A Christmas Wish from CORE

Christmas, the season of hope, invites us to revel in the spirit of joy and cheer that warms our hearts.

This festive time reminds us that God bestowed a supreme gift upon all humanity some two thousand years ago.  It was the arrival of a very special baby named Jesus, wrapped in cloths and nestled in a manger.   We readily envision the parents watching over the newborn, accompanied by humble shepherds and gentle animals sharing the stable.  We immerse ourselves in the coziness of the scene by identifying with the baby’s mother, who treasures and ponders everything in her heart.  

The nativity scene is much more than simply a miraculous, heartwarming historical moment.  As we already know, the quiet, unassuming arrival of this baby holds a promise that surpasses the grandeur of any human achievement.  The baby is destined for greatness, and He makes everything right again.  At Christmastime, we celebrate God’s ultimate gift: Jesus came into this world to save us all, giving everyone reason for hope and joy!

At CORE, as we reflect on our many blessings, we are keenly aware that our mission is made possible only through our friends and supporters.  With heartfelt gratitude, we specially want to recognize these individuals for their commitment and belief in our cause.  Your encouragement, prayers, and generosity are the cornerstone of our success. We sincerely thank you – you’re the best! 

To those still struggling with addiction, take heart!  There is a solution for your difficulty, and you are not alone.  At CORE, we offer open arms and unwavering support to guide you on your journey to recovery and health. You are deserving of a brighter future, and we’ll help you find it.  Every member of our staff – in whom the drinking and drug problem has been solved – speaks from personal experience.  We’ll show you the solution and how it works.  

To all our readers, this Christmas season, let’s reflect on the true essence of hope.  Our real hope transcends human achievements and reaches into the depths of our souls.  It begins with a baby born in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago.

CORE wishes everyone a Merry Christmas
filled with the timeless hope and joy
that Baby Jesus brings to us all!

Robin Trotter: Making a Difference 

Robin Trotter: Making a Difference 

Meet Robin Trotter!  Robin is our new women’s admissions coordinator at the Branson recovery center.  She stepped into the job when Jen Brinkmann made a lateral move to our finance department.  As the point of contact person for our female clients, Robin now has many important responsibilities.  

We recently had the pleasure of spending several hours talking with Robin in preparation for this article.  Our original intent was to focus on her addiction and subsequent recovery but, for obvious reasons, our conversation kept gravitating toward her new job, and especially her hopes and dreams for the women under her care.  

Robin works at CORE because she is talented and has a heart for God.  In this sense, she is similar to all of our employees. Nevertheless, while she is gifted and spiritually devoted, our interview uncovered one curious detail that definitely sets Robin apart from the rest of our staff.  This little known fact has to do with her morning commute to work.

Every morning, our employees travel from all over the Tri-Lakes region to get to our Branson location.  Once we’ve put on our sunglasses and messed with the car radios, our trips take several minutes or more.  For some, the drive takes more than a half-hour.  Robin’s morning jaunt, by contrast, is on an entirely different scale.

When Robin puts on her seatbelt and checks to make sure she has everything needed for her busy day ahead, her commute takes – wait for it – seven seconds!

It takes longer to put on shoes and socks than it takes Robin to drive to work, owing to the fact that she lives right next to our Branson recovery center.  Her trip is faster than a TikTok video.  But please don’t assume this means she gets to sleep in.  Robin actually gets up each morning before the sun does.  She has important duties to look after even before she leaves for work.

Robin also manages CORE’s intake residence for our women in Branson, and one of her formal tasks happens early each morning.  She leads the whole house in a morning devotional which sets a positive and spiritually-focused tone for their day ahead.  She shared with us a rare glimpse into this event, which we think is well worth repeating.  As she relates:

Every morning, all the girls meet downstairs in the living room for a devotional.  We sit around in a circle and read out of different books.  They take turns doing that, and then we talk about it.  After that we go around the room and hear what everybody has planned for the day.  We finish by circling up.”

Within the house circle, Robin recites a series of positive affirmations for the ladies.  They include things like, I am blessed, healthy, confident, motivated, a child of God, and so forth, and the group repeats these affirmations.  The devotional is concluded by the whole house saying the Lord’s Prayer together.  

We think what Robin describes is a great way to begin the day – for any house, for anybody!  And it’s after this devotional that Robin prepares for her famous excursion to our Branson recovery center.  “I grab my keys, phone, and coffee, and head off to work. I get in my car, drive a few feet, and I’m here,” she laughs. 

Once she arrives, Robin’s office gets busier than Grand Central Station. She serves as the point of contact for our female clients, communicating with them about CORE’s rules, expectations, and services. “Being able to be the go-to girl for over one-hundred women is exciting,” Robin says, and we agree.  There’s never a dull moment in her day.  

She’s already well-acquainted with her job.  Multi-tasking is a must, for example.  Robin might be found speaking with a client, taking a call, and typing a letter – all at the same time.  Clients also bring family, medical, and legal issues to her.  Unforeseen crises also arise that must be attended to.  On top of this, Robin is responsible for doing screenings, determining eligibility, and guiding new clients through the intake process.  And she must be prepared to provide immediate support and guidance to handle every situation effectively.

Robin describes her life today as full and rewarding, and we can easily see why.  Still, she will be the first to point out that this wasn’t always so.  She arrived to CORE very much like so many of us do – at rock bottom.  “I was at the lowest of my lows when I got here,” she says.  Nearly her entire adult life had been wasted in abusive relationships, and on drugs and alcohol.  She had no contact with her parents, and she didn’t have a friend in the world.  Even worse, she had no relationship with God, and she felt too ashamed to even approach Him.  CORE turned out to be exactly what she needed to begin turning things around. 

For the first time in her life, Robin heard about the 12 Steps.  She also listened to others sharing their experience, strength, and hope.  Robin met other women at CORE who had returned to health and wellness even though they once were as hopeless as her.  Encouraged, she wasted no time in working her steps.  By the time she completed her 5th Step, “I started to feel myself again,” she remembers, “really wanting it, to just keep continuing, to get better and better in my program, and become closer to God”.  By sticking with her program, Robin recovered.  Looking back on her experience, Robin primarily credits two things for her success.  

First, she very much wanted to get right with God.  She tells us, “I wanted a relationship with God.  I’d been so depressed and miserable, and I worried about my future and what might happen if I didn’t change.”  Working her steps made this relationship a reality for her, and along with this came the miracle of recovery and the promises of the Big Book.  She tells us, wide-eyed, “once I started doing the right thing and began seeking Him, I accomplished more in one year than I had in thirty“.  Robin also got baptized, which she proudly declares “was an act of obedience that shows I’m living for Him now.  I am a Christian.” 

Second, Robin purposely avoided romantic relationships, a distraction that so easily hinders people from finding recovery.  She says, “There was great freedom by not having to deal with that.  People just don’t realize that.  They think they just have to have a man but, how can getting into a relationship ever work if we don’t fix ourselves first?  So, when I got here, I had no intention of looking at another man.  Nothing was going to distract me from my recovery program.”

Robin’s enthusiasm eventually led to her becoming a house manager.  On social media, she became outspoken supporter of faith and the 12 Step program.  At this point in Robin’s testimony, we interrupted and pointedly asked if CORE helped her recovery, to which she nodded, saying “Yes, in every way.  I didn’t escape my past until I came to CORE.  It gave me a safe place to be while I sorted out my life.  CORE showed me the 12 Steps that got my addiction under control.  Everybody here has become like my family.  I’m very grateful for everybody.”

We at CORE are so pleased for Robin, her new faith, and her new life in recovery.  She has friends who love and care about her today, and she has been reunited with her mom and step-dad.  We’re especially happy she has become part of our organization.  As an added bonus of Robin’s addition to the CORE family, at a recent staff luncheon she introduced many of us to the Korean dish Bulgogi, which was delish!  And there also was Kimchi, sticky rice, and egg rolls to round out our dining experience.  All in all, we really have to give Robin brownie points for her culinary skills.  

So, where does Robin see herself in five years?  She thinks a moment and says, “I want to keep achieving and believing, and growing in this job.  I want to see these girls make it in their recovery programs.”  She then adds, “I love having a job where I can make a difference in other people’s lives.  Not everybody gets this opportunity, which is what makes it so exciting!”