Photo by Keith Borgmeyer
Karen Stone, regional program director of The Caring People, is passionate about helping single moms.
After teaching school for a number of years, Karen needed a career change and began life coaching. Besides teaching children, her other passion was helping women navigate through difficult times and live fulfilled lives.
She worked as a volunteer developing a life coaching program for Love INC clients. While there, she trained others to be coaches and also coached clients herself. “Many of these were single moms searching for answers during a difficult season of their life,” she says.
That’s where Karen first met Charlene Smith, a single mom with three boys. Charlene had come to Columbia from a domestic violence shelter in a different city; she and her boys were looking to start over.
“I had no support, and Karen became my support,” says Charlene. “She became my family and still is. From the minute I met her, I felt no judgment of having been an unmarried teen mom. She is a wonderful, special, one-of-a-kind, heaven-sent, God-anointed woman. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Karen’s help.”
During her years at Love INC, Karen was in the midst of a divorce, wearing the title of single mom personally. “My daughter was older, but I still experienced the pain of rejection and having to walk through that with my daughter,” she says. “All of a sudden, I understood single moms a whole lot better.”
Through Love INC, Karen heard about The Caring People. The ministry, founded by Peter and Jodee Herschend of Branson, helps churches form care groups for single moms and their children. Karen attended the Columbia training session for new care group leaders and was hooked. Shortly after, she was hired as the regional program director, working to build and train teams within a city. Her job now encompasses Missouri and parts of Kansas, and she’s exploring other areas.
“Many of the moms tell me they’re so appreciative of their care group because it’s a place to share their joys and struggles with others who understand,” Karen explains. “It’s also a place where they can ask questions about things they all of a sudden have to do by themselves like parenting, budgeting, household repairs, buying a car, and so much more.”
Karen’s hopes to inspire more churches to form care groups, and she would love to have more men and women join her citywide mission teams to help single moms.
“Karen isn’t just part of The Caring People organization,” Charlene says. “Karen is a caring person. Helping single moms is what she loves.”