Editor’s note: In everything, even a pandemic, there is a bright spot. This is the third in a series highlight local, positive entities and people who have made an impact during the year.

Community Healthcore has seen success over the months with their free program to help East Texas people and their families recover from the impact of COVID-19.

The Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program is funded by a FEMA grant through the state of Texas, and it’s been approved to continue through June 30, 2021.

“We’ve been able to reach individuals who have experienced loss, either they lost loved ones or they’ve lost their work, lost income, lost the ability to see their families, especially those that are in the nursing homes, and we’ve been able to provide grief counseling and connection to resources in the community as needed for help with food, maybe some bill help,” said Kim Durham, Program Manager Intake/Aftercare at Community Healthcore. “We don’t actually help with the bill help, but we get the people connected to resources that can help with that.”

Durham emphasized that the counseling isn’t just for people in absolute dire needs.

“The word crisis does not necessarily mean you’re falling apart and everything’s over,” she said. “What we are in is a national crisis with COVID, and so that’s what the crisis is referring to, is the COVID crisis, not the individuals being in crisis. So we’re trying to get that clarified a little bit because I think people feel like that they have to be in dire straits in order to call us, and that’s not the case. We’d rather they call us before they’re in dire straits so that we can help them, give them an ear to talk to. And also sometime folks just don’t know that there are people out there that are willing to help, and we know those people, so we can provide those connections.”

Durham said they’ve had upwards of 50 people call their crisis line, and they’ve reached several thousand people by doing presentations.

“We can come to your community groups, we can come to schools, businesses, community centers and do presentations on how to cope with increased levels of anxiety and fear, how to handle grief, what does grief look like, ‘am I grieving?’ ‘How can I handle grief well?’ Those kind of presentations,” she said. “We’ve been doing several of those and really reaching a large number of people with each group.”

They also do a webinar weekly that’s advertised on their Facebook page ( which talks about different things related to COVID.

Durham’s favorite success story with the program involved a man who called after losing his wife to COVID. They had been married around 50 years.

“When you lose someone like that, it’s so much more than just losing your wife. You’ve lost your confidant; you’ve lost your best friend; you’ve lost company, everything,” Durham said. “He was really struggling, and he called in and we got him connected with a counselor, and his counselor was able to just really speak with him. They spoke weekly, and she was able to help him walk through that grief and understand that it was ok to grieve, that there wasn’t anything wrong with grieving heavily. He was starting to isolate himself and not wanting to talk to people, and she was able to talk him through getting into those situations and reaching out to people and talking with people...

“It’s all about connection. I know that doesn’t sound super exciting, but it’s really all about these connections with people to realize that someone else out there understands. He didn’t understand that everyone else grieved too, and just having her (his counselor) to talk to and just to have that camaraderie. She said he used to cry every phone call for about the first five phone calls, and then all of a sudden she noticed he wasn’t crying anymore during the phone calls. And they helped make a memory book of the wife and different things like that. And it was just really special, and I mean all the counselors are doing things like that, but this one was just really special because he was an older gentleman who’d been married for so long and then all of a sudden that was over, and over so tragically because of this virus.”

Another overall success story happened when Community Healthcore was at a food drive.

“We were able to talk to 25 different people who wanted counseling services because of them dealing with COVID in one way or another,” Durham said. “And so we’re starting to have the success of the community knowing who we are, and that helps.”

Community Healthcore and this program is all about providing people with hope, Durham said. She referenced the proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child.

“It really does take a community to get through COVID, it really does,” she said. “We can’t do this alone. We all need to join together. We all need to be wearing the masks. We all need to be doing what we need to do be doing to keep the spread from happening, but even more than that we need to join together more than ever now, and this is what Community Healthcore’s about anyway, is joining about in our community and letting people know you’re not alone. There’s hope out there, and we’re here to help point you to hope.”

Community Healthcore serves clients and works with local governments from the Red River south to Lufkin, and from Paris, Canton and Crockett east to the Louisiana state line.

To receive counseling or to schedule a time for Community Healthcore to give a presentation with your group, call (903) 399-5202.

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