Muchas Gracias!

StepUp hosted a party at Cantina 18 on Monday, April 16th to show our appreciation for all the hours of work the volunteers give to the ministry. The StepUp staff presented individuals with Volunteer of the Year awards for each department.

The award winners were:

Life Skills - Christine Jardis

Employment - Ruth Landers

Children’s Program - Cathy Monaghan

Alumni Program - Trish Estes

Development - George York

Employer - Royce Company

We Step Up Chairs - Anne and George Ramsay

Congratulations to the award winners, and thank you to all of the 300+ volunteers who allow StepUp to do the work we do each day. We are truly grateful for each one of you.

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Donor Spotlight: Anna White Hosea

Did you know that you can leave a legacy at StepUp by including us in your will? Anna White Hosea, a StepUp board member and community leader, recently decided to make a lasting impact on StepUp. Here is what she had to say about her decision:


"I recently named StepUp as a beneficiary of my IRA.  Making philanthropy a part of my estate planning, while also making provisions for our children and each other, is something that my husband and I think is very important. I feel good about supporting an organization that I love, and it also makes good financial sense for me and my family. This is a gift that costs me nothing during my lifetime, but will eventually benefit some future StepUp participant."

Have questions about including StepUp in your planned giving? Please contact Mary Allison Raper, Director of Development, at (919) 781-0156 ext. 125 or


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StepUp Spotlight: Cheryl Crump
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Most individuals come to StepUp seeking employment, directly or indirectly.  In the case of Cheryl Crump, it was to get a refresher on some employability skills to seek an upgrade in employment from her weekend clerical position.  It came in handy because, shortly after completing her workshop, she found herself phased out of her job.  She worked with her Employment Counselor to further enhance her resume and job seeking strategy that enabled her to land a contract position with the NC Department of Revenue (which she currently holds).  She is happy about the opportunity and is making the most of it while developing new transferable skills, to boot.  We are so very glad to have assisted Cheryl with her ability to StepUp!


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Alumni Making an Impact

Several of our Alumni Adults and One Youth spoke at three services during StepUp Sunday at White Memorial Presbyterian Church on Sunday, January 14, 2018.

Adult Speakers were Saraha Robertson, Latanya Dugger, and Keith Sutton. Youth Speaker was Natalya Young (daughter of Latanya Dugger).

Each spoke about their reasons for coming to the program and shared how their involvement in StepUp changed their future. Each came to StepUp for different reasons and all left with a sense of accomplishment and hope for the future.  

NC Governor Roy Cooper attended the 11 am service and spent time speaking with Alumni speakers to encourage and congratulate them. Governor Cooper also stated that he made a special point to attend, stating that StepUp Sunday was an important event for him and that he looked forward to it each year.

In addition, StepUp Ministry’s alumni program has been awarded a digital literacy class sponsored by Kramden Institute and Coastal Credit Union.  Adult and Middle/High School alumni will participate in a series of five (5) classes focused on:

Day 1 – Computer Basics

Day 2 – Office Programs

Day 3 – Internet Basics

Day 4 – Social Media and Smart Sharing

Day 5 – Financial Literacy (Coastal Federal Credit Union)

Adults and Youth (Grades 6 – 12) will each receive a laptop once classes are completed. Kramden Institute is a new partner and StepUp Ministry and we greatly appreciative for the opportunity to bring this class to Alumni Adults/Youth with limited access to computers at home. 


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Kids Learn Culture

This month the kids at StepUp had the opportunity to participate in cultural day, which is an event that we have once a year giving our children a chance to learn about a culture that they may not be familiar with. Our guest speaker this year was Farah Campbell; she came and shared her Haitian heritage with the kids. Both of Farah’s parents were born and raised in Haiti and later moved to the United States to raise their family.

The Kids had the chance to see the Haitian flag and see where Haiti is located on the map. They learned about traditions and some of the many festivals that are held in Haiti. Farah taught them a few useful phrases in Haitian Creole such as “Sa ki pase” which means, “ What’s up?” and “Bonswa” which means “good evening”. The kids also got to move around a bit and learned a traditional Haitian dance while listening to some music. They had the opportunity to try fried plantains which are very popular Haitian dish. It was a night filled with learning and exposure, and the kids had a great time!


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Protect and Serve StepUp's Kids

This month in the Children’s program we had one of our Police Officers come and talk about what she really does on her job. We thought that having her come and talk to our children would be a great way for them to ask questions and share some of their stories with her. Some of our children even shared that they want to one day become an officer. Officer Delva did a great job with showing our children the different roles that many officers have. She even talked about the Officer who pulls us over for speeding!

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StepUp Spotlight: Mary Harris
Mary Harris

This month’s featured participant of the Step Two Program is Mary Harris.  Mary has been employed at Holly Hill Hospital since 1985, where she manages about ten or more subordinates in housekeeping.  When Mary initially began Life Skills back in September, she joined with the intent of getting a better handle of her finances.  Fast forward, 24 weeks later, Mary has not only created a budget but is operating within her budget and checking off her goals.   Mary may seem quiet, but she is in fact silently making strategic financial decisions for her future.  We applaud Mary-keep stepping up!

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Xtremely Inspired

At StepUp Ministry, our vision is to be the premier resource in Wake County for people seeking to improve their lives and develop stable careers. Members of our staff were able to meet with current high school sophomores and juniors seeking to do exactly that at Xtreme Beginnings.

One of the many attributes that makes StepUp a premier resource is our dedication to helping people of all ages improve their lives and develop stable careers. Gainful employment changes the lives of not only the individual and their family. It changes entire communities.

On March 27, members of the Employment, Children and Real World Programs of StepUp Ministry, partnered with Wake County Public School Systems to conduct mock interviews for sophomore and high school students. The 18th Annual Xtreme Beginnings Event grants students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their career options as they continue the career exploration process.

It was an honor to sit in a room full of the students of today and leaders of tomorrow. The event was a wonderful opportunity to open the eyes and minds of the next generation’s workforce to an array of educational and career opportunities.

We look forward to returning next year and to our continued partnership with WCPSS to encourage and support our students.

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StepUp Spotlight: Jerry Holder

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In 2017, Jerry Holder walked through the doors of StepUp, looking for a life changing opportunity. After completing the employment week, he found that opportunity when we assisted him in landing a position at one of StepUp’s most supportive employers. Fast-forward about 10 months, Jerry continued to work hard and stayed dedicated to his position at the StepUp employer. There was one issue, Jerry needed full time work to support his self and his daughter. Although the employer created a good opportunity for Jerry by giving him a chance for employment, they did not have the full time hours Jerry needed at this point in his life.


Jerry reached back out to the team, for assistance in finding a position that offered full-time hours. After patience and continued hard work, Jerry received a call to go on an interview at Penders Antiques. Following the interview the employer offered Jerry a position on the spot. Being the professional that Jerry is, he thanked the employer for the opportunity and let them know he needed to give his current employer a 2-week notice before starting. Jerry worked his 2 weeks, and started his wonderful full time position at Penders Antiques. Jerry’s story is an example of what hard work, dedication, and professionalism will get you. Jerry assured the team that he would continue to leap out on faith, and never stop seeking opportunities to grow and be successful in life.


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StepUp Spotlight: Ericka Bateman

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Ericka entered StepUp Ministry through a referral from Redirection, a transitional housing program. She finished the Employment Workshop in August 2017 and entered the Life Skills program the following month. Since her enrollment in the Life Skills program, she has obtained her drivers license, purchased a car through Wheels4Hope, completed Peer Support Specialist training, and just recently signed a lease to her very own apartment. Ericka works fulltime as a waitress and is considered one of the most dedicated workers. She is currently in phase II of the Life Skills program and is looking forward to setting and reaching more goals.


When you see Ericka please help us in congratulating her for all of her accomplishments.  


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Volunteer? Care giver? Rock star.

Bonnie Whitehead, has been a volunteer with the Sunday school at her own church, and jumped at the opportunity to help another group in the nursery setting. She was first introduced to StepUp back in June of 2011, and is now going into her third year of volunteering with us. 

Bonnie Whitehead

Bonnie loves to get the chance to work with a child one on one, since that really gives you a glimpse into their own world. She loves to learn their interests, likes, and dislikes, so she can better adapt to their needs. 

When asked what her favorite memory was so far as a volunteer, Bonnie told me, "My time at Step Up has provided far too many touching memories to select a favorite but the common theme among them: the children's pride. Words cannot really convey the look on a shy, unassuming eleven-year-old child's face when he explained how he was going to be an "entomologist" when he grew up. Or the expression on the very timid four-year-old as she showed me she had learned her colors just this past Wednesday! Also I can never forget incredible little Rakwan, a special needs child whom I met on my very first day. His smile lit up the room and it's just one of the many moments I will always cherish. So you can see that on a regular basis I leave Christ Church with my heart filled with joy and hope for these amazing, deserving children. It is certainly a rich reward in and of itself and I'm so grateful to Step Up for providing this opportunity to serve.”

We thank Bonnie, and all of our wonderful volunteers for helping to enrich the lives of our participants, both young and old. We could not do it without you! 


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Meet Kathleen and Ashton

We have two recent additions to our StepUp team, so we want you all to have a chance to get to know them. Meet Kathleen and Ashton!

Kathleen Liebowitz is StepUp’s new Volunteer Coordinator. This will be her first job in the nonprofit field, as she has spent the last twenty plus years working in healthcare as a registered dietitian.  She had the opportunity to volunteer as a co-partner for StepUp Ministry many years ago and decided if there was ever a job opening for her there, she would jump at the chance. She has already enjoyed meeting co-partners, instructors, participants and potential volunteers in the two weeks she has been on our team, and is looking forward to future opportunities.

Kathleen Liebowitz
Ashton Herbert

Ashton Herbert, originally from Richmond, VA, is joining us as our Children’s Program Coordinator. In her first two weeks, her favorite part of her job has been meeting and working with so many sweet and wonderful children, and figuring out how to tailor the program to serve their best interests and needs. She chose to join our team because she loved her time as a StepUp volunteer. When she saw the opportunity to join the team officially, she could not think of a better place to go next in her career. In her free time, Ashton loves to be outside and travel as much as she can. She enjoys running, and loves a good arts and craft project. She is a huge sports fan, and have a soft spot for college football and soccer! Fun fact… Ashton has a twin sister who is one minute younger than her.

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StepUp Spotlight: Charles Pope
Charles Pope

Has anyone ever given you a recommendation for something, and you seem apprehensive about it? Yet, once you finally made a committed decision to take the first step, you realized it was a great opportunity!

A similar experience happened to Charles Pope. One of Charles’ friends recommended him to attend the Employment Workshop Training Week several times until he finally said yes.

Once Charles completed the Employment Workshop, he left feeling renewed, positive, and ready to move forward with his goals. Before that, Charles ran into some personal challenges that left him feeling depressed and hopeless. The positive vibes, encouragement, and indispensable employability tools forged him into his next chapter.

Charles was seeking a position that would fit his availability, personality, and personal preferences as well as align with the company needs.

I am happy to announce that Charles is working at Christ Church as a security officer. Both he and the employer are very pleased.


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Life Isn't Always a Crystal Stair
Selena Walker

StepUp alum Selena Walker will tell you, in the words of Langston Hughes, that her life hasn’t been a crystal stair.  At an early age, she lost family members and loved ones, which resulted in her learning to self-manage grief and loss. 

Her passion was often viewed as having an attitude. She shared that as a child, she was often told that she should become an attorney because she loved to argue. Selena’s passion was in fact a form of protection. 

While in Life Skills, she was able to connect with her feelings and sort through her emotions. As a 2015 Life Skills graduate, years later Selena is still setting and achieving goals. 

She has completed her Associates Degree and is on course to obtain her Bachelors. Her most recent “joy” is that she’s secured employment within the Criminal Justice System earning over $15 per hour! 

Our Life Skills program is 48 weeks but the skills acquired last a lifetime!


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Thank You Carolina Hurricanes!

At StepUp, we love to celebrate—to celebrate the generosity of our donors, or the successes of our participants, or the dedication of our staff. No matter the reason, we often gather to share joys, share a meal, or simply share a high five.

Renaissance Gala

In December, we gathered to celebrate the generosity of the Carolina Hurricanes, as well as all our children have learned through the Raleigh Renaissance. The children have been taking etiquette, art, and spoken word classes, and the Renaissance Gala was a chance to show off their new talents.

We listened to beautiful music, saw creative artwork, and heard inspiring spoken word pieces, all crafted by our incredible Children’s Program participants. Thank you to the Carolina Hurricanes Kids 'N Community Foundation for allowing our children to gain exposure and opportunity in the fields of arts and etiquette.


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Brothers & Big Influencers
Paul and Silas Hunter

The Real World is a program for young adults ages 16 to 21 years old. Our goals for each young adult is for them to develop professionalisms skills, enhance and strengthen communication and interpersonal skills, value and pursue post secondary educational opportunities, and for them to understand and exemplify personal responsibility in daily decision making.

Over last year we had an excellent examples of these core values develop in two young men.  Silas and Paul Hunter enrolled in the Real World together as brothers.  Throughout the year they were able to be a big influence in the Real World, by actively recruiting young adults to be a part of our program, along with achieving their personal goals. It was truly a pleasure being apart of their journey.

I believe that they are both moving towards a positive adulthood. We celebrated their accomplishment during our graduation in December. I wanted to take a moment and thank them for being apart of our StepUp Family.


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Participants, Perseverance, and Partnerships

In our final Employment Workshop for 2017, 12 individuals started on Monday, and 12 individuals completed the training. They displayed a cohesiveness and drive that embodies the characteristics and qualities that employers champion in potential employees.

The newly minted graduates were granted the opportunity to meet with one of our partners, The Umstead Hotel and Spa, the Wednesday after they completed the workshop. StepUp and The Umstead Hotel and Spa have had a working relationship since 2013. 


And, based on the caliber of people that have been referred, to date, they have remained supportive of our mission and goal to extend opportunities for gainful employment to individuals that match the positions they have available.  

We thank the Umstead Hotel and Spa for their continued partnership and we congratulate the last workshop graduates on their perseverance and achievements. 


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StepUp Spotlight: Mary Starke


After just completing Phase 1 of Life Skills, Mary already feels that the program has helped her grow in self-esteem, motivation and confidence.


She was referred to StepUp by Joanne Tau, and she now brings her 20-year-old sister to Real World so she can learn some of the same things she has.


Mary has set goals and achieved them even while in Phase 1, such as, saving for and purchasing a car, as well as promoting her art. Mary has a BA in Social Science and the Arts.


She is an inspiring artist with an interesting gift of turning vintage items to art, so if you see her around our program, congratulate Mary on her progress and ask about her art.


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Role Reversal: Children Give Back to Their Parents

This time of the year is always full of fun and excitement for our StepUp Children’s program. One of our favorite events of the year is Santa’s Workshop, where we get tons of donations of new and gently used items and set it up like a store.

The children in our Life Skills and Alumni programs then have the opportunity to shop for the special adults in their lives, such as parents, grandparents, and even teachers.

The children love this event because it gives them the opportunity to show appreciation for those who do so much for them all through the year.

After shopping they headed to the wrapping paper station to add a special touch to their gifts. For the rest of the evening they enjoyed fun holiday themed games, treats, and activities. 

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Hard Work Pays Off

The NC Licensing Board for General Contractors contacted the Employment Team a year ago to fill a temporary approver position. The contract was supposed to last for just 90 days, just through their busy season.

When Ethel Lennon came through the Employment Training Workshop, she had been working as a part time Cashier at NC State University for a year. While she was grateful to be employed, she was looking to reenter the Data Entry career field.

Understanding that the position was temporary, Ethel went in and excelled at the position. She was offered a full-time position at the end of the season. Recently, Ethel was promoted and given her own office! We are so proud of Ethel for her accomplishments.

We are grateful to have employers like the NC Licensing Board for General Contractors who create wonderful employment opportunities. They have hired two more StepUp Ministry participants since adding Ethel to their staff. Here’s to a long and prosperous partnership!

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