Family Is Everything

 
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Over the first weekend of December, we celebrated Christmas with 1,936 Step By Step moms and members of their families!

We have found this night to be one that children look forward to all year; a safe place for moms and dads to find refuge for a few hours; a place where hugs, smiles, and kindness abound; a place where souls get loved on with nothing expected in return.

Usually, we share the heartwarming stories we experience during this magical weekend, and there were many!! But, Sunday night’s party was bittersweet.

A beautiful and sweet mom walked in the door with her husband and children. She hugged Krista, our Founder and Executive Director, so tightly. She put her head on Krista’s shoulder and shared that she got out of bed for the first time in three months to come to the party. She said the doctors found cancer in her spine, and it doesn’t look good.

One of Krista’s daughters, who is 18-years-old, spent the evening with a mom and her two little girls. This mom is only four years older. The father of this mother’s children has been horribly abusive. Three weeks before, she took her last beating and had the courage to make him leave.

A member of our administrative staff was with a very young mom, who has recently left the sex trade. This staff member could not get over how intelligent and sweet-spirited this broken girl is. This is not how her story is going to end, if we have anything to say about it!

What happened next was what Krista described as the most heartbreaking moment of her entire 21 years serving through Step By Step. 

Krista said: “I share this with Noel’s permission. Noel was one of Step By Step’s very first client moms, 20 years ago. We loved working with her. She attended the very first Christmas party Step By Step ever hosted. Almost every year since, she has come with her husband and daughters. But, I hadn’t seen her the last few years. 

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Last night, she came. When I saw her, I could not hold back the tears. I took her hand and led her to a room, where we cried and talked together. For three years, she’s been addicted to meth. She’s lost everything... her hair, her teeth, her marriage, her children. She got down to 66 pounds.

As of that night, she was five weeks clean, and she is determined to return to the real Noel. She knows how close to death she was, and how close to death she still looks. She wants to fight for herself and for her kids. The road will be long. We will travel it with her, opening doors to support her, for as long as she wants our help.

Before Noel left last night, we took a picture together with Santa. Next year, we are going to take another picture together. She promises me the real Noel will be back.”

Today, all of us at Step By Step want to thank Lighthouse Christian Center and Northview Community Church for helping to mobilize over 600 volunteers to make these events possible. Year after year, you have showered our moms and families with unconditional love.

Thank you, a hundred times over. What a gift you have given to so many. Thank you for bringing hope to our families, and for being a part of ours! 

 
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2018 Annual Family Christmas Celebrations

Over the first weekend of December, we celebrated Christmas with 1,936 Step By Step moms and members of their families!

Together, we hosted a sit-down turkey Christmas dinner, with all the trimmings, for over 2,000. We took professional portraits of our families and pictures with Santa. We gave out over 600 food bags and grocery gift cards to help families enjoy a special holiday meal at home. 

Kids decorated cookies, played at our cupcake walk station, chose and wrapped gifts for their moms, hung out with our talking Christmas tree, raced slot cars, and lots more! Hundreds of our moms received presents for their children and were given a welcoming safe place to make memories with their little ones.

We are so thankful for Lighthouse Christian Center and Northview Community Church for helping us mobilize over 600 volunteers to make these events possible. Year after year, they have showered our moms and families with unconditional love.

We couldn’t think of a better way to start this holiday season. Thank you to everyone who helped make these events possible! It was an amazing year!

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Step By Step’s main office is just steps away from the construction zone for our new building, and it’s been quite an eventful past few weeks! We’ve lost power randomly, our building has been trembling and shaking, the smoke alarms and the security alarms have been taking turns persistently (and loudly!) going off.

These initial weeks have been defined primarily by demolition. The second story of the event hall has been removed to reveal a beautiful vaulted look. The walls are almost all gone. Parts of the foundation and slab are being removed to make way for plumbing and to be made stronger. 

We are taking all of this dust and noise and disruption in stride, as we know that for this building to support the good work we are preparing to do here, change must happen, and our foundation must be strong! 


Highlights from our First Weeks of Construction:

Week 1

When we saw the walls of the future classrooms being framed yesterday, it took our breath away! Construction is officially fully underway for the Legacy In Motion project! After years of planning and struggling through fundraising, development, and an extensive permitting process, it is surreal to see what we’ve envisioned and dreamed of finally starting to come to life.

This project has been anything but easy. But, the huge impact this project will have in the lives of the families and communities we serve keeps us going, in spite of the massive challenges we have faced, and the new challenges we know are yet to come.

Over the next few months, our most critical priority will be to raise the remaining funds needed to cover increased costs. After securing over $8 million, we learned the project will need an additional $2.5 million. Thanks to four recent major donors, that number is now down to $1.2 million. 

We will also be continuing to develop our workforce development and job training program and building the partnerships that will make this program successful, for generations to come. And, we will experience some significant growing pains, as our team prepares to welcome a social enterprise arm to our organization. 

We are so thankful to everyone who has helped us get to this point. We are so grateful for your ongoing generosity and support!

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Week 2

If you have driven past the former Van Lierop Bulb farm site over the last few days, you have noticed that things here are changing rapidly!

While Step By Step’s main office has only been onsite for a few years, it is amazing how quickly we have become attached to this place and its story. Hardly a week has gone by without someone dropping by to say hello and reminisce about their time enjoying, shopping, or working at what was once an internationally-recognized flower farm. It has been an emotional process to see things begin to change, in spite of our anticipation and excitement for the future.

Our Founder and Executive Director asked Mr. Van Lierop (who still lives in his residence onsite) how he is doing with all the changes. He replied, “Krista, I cannot tell you how good it does my heart to see a new dream taking off.”

We too are excited to watch this longtime dream finally begin to take shape, and we look forward to the transformation of this place into one that will grow strong families in our community!


 
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This place is being transformed into one that will braid the tangible needed skills of job training and workforce development with the intangible social and emotional supportive services necessary to holistically strengthen the lives and families of vulnerable women.

We don’t just want them to become more stable and economically self-sufficient. We want them to become strong mothers who break generational cycles of poverty and abuse, whose children are healthy, strong, ready, and who will instinctively and ambitiously look up.

As we approach the close of another year, we are not skipping a beat. We need to finish this year strong and keep running and pushing forward into the New Year. In 2019, Step By Step will experience enormous programmatic growth and new opportunities to speak love and hope and life into the lives of vulnerable women and children. 

I need you to know that we absolutely would not be in this place at this point without you and your faithful support. I am so thankful for each one of you. As we move into another year of service and the next phase of our Legacy In Motion project, I’d like to ask you to consider two things. 

First, please consider an End of Year financial gift, so we can start this next transformational year strong. Second, consider a monthly commitment to support Step By Step, as we work to aggressively launch new programs and services, by financially supporting our work throughout this next year.

We are living in an age of subscriptions. Everywhere you look, retailers, entertainers, advertisers want you to “subscribe”! But, what would happen if we made a point of subscribing to social change in our community. I want to challenge our Step By Step family to “subscribe here” for stronger women, children, families, and communities.

Look up! with us, to 2019.

With Gratitude

Krista

Krista Linden, Founder & Executive Director

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More than a year ago, we asked eighteen Step By Step moms, who have been or currently are in our program, to join together to form a collaborative, brainstorming group. 

We invited them to participate, with the primary goal that they would contribute their ideas and speak into the development of our future onsite job training and workforce development programs. We also wanted to support their current work and life goals.

At our first meeting, we talked about the hopes and dreams they have for themselves and for their families. At the second, they wrote down and shared their one and five year goals, the barriers they have to accomplishing those goals, and how they are working to overcome their unique challenges. In our third meeting, we talked about the importance of gratitude and how thankfulness has a positive impact in our lives. We also talked about how to overcome financial barriers to success.

Last week, we hosted our fourth meeting together, on December 10th.

We started out the meeting by splitting them into groups, and we asked them to discuss the following questions:

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1) What annual income do they feel their family needs to make, in order to move from barely surviving to being able to save for a “rainy day” fund and the future?

2) From their experiences and observations, what are the habits, choices, and circumstances of individuals who are not just surviving?

3) What kind of support do they think they need, to begin moving the needle from surviving towards thriving?

4) How can the project at the farm bolster their dreams and visions for themselves and their children?

Our time together was so positive and enjoyable. We have learned so much from each different perspective and testimony. Meaningful relationships and friendships have formed between these women and mothers, especially those who have been able to attend all of the gatherings. 

It has been eye opening to be a part of these very real conversations, to better understand some of the issues that our families are wrestling with, and to hear how the women we serve define and are working towards success. 

These conversations have and will continue to be invaluable. We are using them to improve the planning and development of our future programs, so we can more fully serve and support the women we work with, on their journey to fulfill their goals and dreams.

At the end of the evening, we were able to give all of the women who attended Christmas presents, both for them and for their family members. All of the gifts were purchased and provided by the Champion Centre, who also allowed us to host the event at their facility, while ours is under construction! 

The Champion Centre also provided volunteers to help provide child care for the nearly 35 children who came along with their mothers and volunteers.  Their facilities team also worked hard to help us set up and tear down. 

Before we left, they also gave us a $1,000 donation check, from their foundation. We are so very grateful for their ongoing support of our program and our mothers and their families.

We would also like to thank Nuk Suwanchote, with Light Form Film, for capturing this beautiful evening via pictures and video!

 
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October |  Kristie Marcotte

Kristie has been volunteering her beautiful talent of card making to Step By Step, for over a year now. We love to send her handmade cards to donors, volunteers, and our client moms, with handwritten notes of thanks and encouragement. Kristie has been making cards for 15 years and often donates her work to nonprofits. 

Kristie heard about Step By Step from our friends at East Main Vision Clinic. Now, she regularly delivers boxes of cards to our doorstep. In her words, “I am so grateful for the support and love that Step By Step provides to those that may feel alone while they are struggling with pregnancy or the challenges of motherhood. I believe even the smallest act of kindness can change a person’s life.” Thank you, Kristie. We believe so, too!

November |  Trilogy at Tehaleh

Trilogy at Tehaleh, a local 55+ community, hosted a “Baby’s First Christmas” fundraiser in November, to support Step By Step and meet the needs of some of the mothers and babies we serve. Their efforts brought in over 2,000 diapers, 5,000 baby wipes, and piles and piles of infant clothes, toys and baby gear! They also raised over $2000 in cash donations and arranged for a 3 - 1 match from the Gates Foundation. Altogether, they will have contributed over $8,000 in donations! We are so thankful for all of their hard work, kindness, and generosity!

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December |  Brianna Howe & Vie Athletics

This December, Vie Athletics Coach Brianna Howe and members of the Puyallup Vie location hosted a giving tree and purchased gifts for over 35 of our Step By Step moms and their families! Vie has been faithfully supporting Step By Step for a few years now. They have been the Presenting Sponsor for our 5K Walk/Run for the past two years. They hosted a team and came out to support us, along with a large group of their “Vie Babes”!  They have also held diaper drives and donated baby items. We love their focus on strength and sisterhood, and we are so thankful for their continued support.

 
 
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