In a recent interview, I was asked: "If you could have one wish, what would it be?"
The context was Step by Step, so I answered:
“I wish every child would feel safe in the arms of their mom and dad.”
When it comes to social services, I believe the best place for us to invest is in healthy babies and safe homes. The mission of Step By Step revolves around these goals.
Last weekend at our Christmas events, hundreds of Step By Step families and volunteers from the local community, nearly 2,000 altogether, turned out to celebrate Christmas together.
At one point this weekend, I walked into the auditorium filled with moms, dads, and children enjoying their time together. Volunteers were holding babies and engaging with young parents. My eyes just welled up with tears. This past weekend is the heartbeat of Step By Step.
I love stories. Here are just a few of my favorites from this weekend:
One mom asked her children if they wanted to go to a birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese or the Step By Step Christmas Party. They unanimously cheered that they wanted to go to the Christmas Party!
A few months ago, a woman saw a mom sitting on a curb nursing her baby. She gave her Step by Step's number and found out she is a recovering addict. The mom called our office, and we connected her with one of our amazing caseworkers, who now meets with her and brought her to the Christmas Party. She was so appreciative!
Five years ago, a Step By Step mom was struggling with severe postpartum psychosis. She was having regular thoughts of hurting herself and her baby. She trusted her caseworker enough to tell her this, but she could not afford the medication she desperately needed. Step By Step paid for her medication. Every Christmas, this mom and her husband come to the Christmas party and thank us for being there during that time. Their children are thriving in the most beautiful way!
A long-time Step By Step mom shared her story with me. It is the most horrific story of abuse I have heard in my 17 years. If you want to hear how her story was redeemed, so she would not repeat the same cycle of abuse with her own children, join us for Step By Step's auction on March 7th to hear her testimony.
I am extremely grateful to each of the churches who host this event. Northview Community Church and Lighthouse Christian Center open their doors and provide hundreds of volunteers who make Christmas special for so many families. I am also so thankful to The Tacoma Rescue Mission for making mashed potatoes for 1,000 people every year for the past 10 years!
Words can not express how grateful I am for Step By Step’s team of nurses and counselors who provide positive relationships, guidance, and encouragement for so many families throughout the year.
I want to say a huge thank you to the leaders and coordinators at both churches, and for Step By Step’s administrative team, for all their hard work preparing and planning for these celebrations.
And finally, I want to especially thank Pastor Roger Schmidt (of Lighthouse) for being a huge champion of this grand event for the past 10 years.
We extend our boundless gratitude to each of you and to each individual, group, club, company, and foundation that donates their time, treasure or talent to Step By Step throughout the year. From all of us at Step By Step, Merry Christmas!
Krista Linden, Founder & Executive Director
"Making Memories Together" - our 2014 Family Christmas Celebrations were SO much fun!
Hundreds of families attended. 1300 moms, dads, and their children (and lots of babies!)
joined over 700 volunteers to celebrate Christmas and make memories together.
Families enjoyed a free turkey dinner, family portraits, photos with Santa, and lots of fun activities including: slot car racing, cookie decorating, a gifts for mom station, kids' toy shop, story time and lots more! Every family also took home a food gift bag and grocery card to help them enjoy a special Christmas dinner at home.
Though Christmas is still officially a few weeks away, for many of our families, this IS their Christmas. For some, it is the highlight of their entire year.
We wish you could hear all of the “Thank You's” we receive from our moms, in the weeks following this event. Last year, we had a mom say her favorite part of the evening was being able to sit together with her whole family for dinner, because they didn't have a table at home.
On a home visit a few months later, one of our case mangers said the only photo on the wall of this mother's home was the photo she had taken at the Christmas party. We had a mom a few years ago who tragically lost her new baby, just a few weeks after Christmas. The photo she received at this party was the only picture she had of her baby with her family.
Our moms are so grateful for you all. You really make Christmas special for them.
For so many of the families we work with, every day is a struggle. The mothers we serve live 185% below the federal poverty line. They barely get by. We are humbled by how hard our moms work just to provide the basics for their families, and by how little they live with.
When our moms first come to us, many are also facing depression, homelessness, addictions, or domestic violence. Our first goal is to help these moms take healthy steps, so they will deliver a healthy baby. But, beyond that, we want to help them to parent well and to establish a safe and healthy home for themselves and their children.
It can take months or years for a mom to reach a stable place. Our goal is to provide her the support and encouragement and resources she needs to help her get there.
This evening becomes much more than just a Christmas party. It is a mental and emotional break from the everyday struggle our moms face, one that is too often lonely, stressful, and exhausting.
For us, this event helps these moms to be able to enjoy a meaningful time with their children in a fun and safe environment. It is a chance for us to reconnect and spend time with them, and to remind them that we care and that they are not alone. It is also a way for us to reconnect with families who are no longer in our program and to help them meet and spend time with other people in their community.
So, to the many many people who gave their time and energy and to all those who generously donated to make this night amazing for these families and their children - THANK YOU!!
And, thank you Northview Community Church and Lighthouse Christian Center for hosting these events once again this year! Your generosity always leaves us speechless, and we can not thank you enough for everything you do for the families we serve.
Together, we are bringing hope to hundreds of families and making a lasting difference in our neighborhoods and communities.