June Graduation celebrates adults, children and Real World graduates

Last Thursday, we celebrated 11 Life Skills graduates, 11 Children's program graduates, and five Real World graduates. We are proud of this group's accomplishments and look forward to their future successes!

Thanks to the co-partner mentors who have walked alongside our participants, and to the instructors and volunteers who have supported our program weekly. Thanks to volunteer photography Sereion Humphrey for the graduation portraits, and to our own Beth Lowery for photographing the event. We also are grateful to Wilson Temple United Methodist Church for hosting the June Graduation and to the volunteers who managed the reception.

StepUp Ministry
Going far together

There's an old African proverb that says “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” When Tanisha relocated to Raleigh, she vowed to herself to rebuild her life. In a matter of weeks, she secured employment, joined the Life Skills program and partnered with Catholic Charities Support Circle.

Full of ambition and with goals to conquer, fast forward four months, and Tanisha is working full time, operating her catering business, budgeting, setting goals and recently furnished her new home through Green Chair.

We celebrate you, Tanisha, and your accomplishments.

Impact Luncheon inspires guests, raises $110,000

StepUp’s annual Impact Luncheon on June 3 brought 250 guests together to learn more about StepUp’s impact and raised $110,000 to support Employment, Life Skills, and Children’s Programs.

Highlights of the program included Andrew Rose sharing about his nine years as a Life Skills co-partner, Joshua Whitaker’s speech about his experiences in the Real World program, Life Skills graduate Jean Suber’s story of transformation followed by her spoken word testimony, and Board member John Chapman’s reminder that many people have talent, but not the opportunity to polish their technique.

We are grateful to the table captains, corporate sponsors, volunteers, and the gracious staff at Hayes Barton United Methodist Church for their partnership, and for helping to make the 2019 Impact Luncheon a success! Such thanks to photographer Austin Dowd for capturing our event so beautifully.

Making their mark on StepUp
Ashton Herbert of StepUp Ministry with Janie Young and Charlie Johnson, who founded the Alumni Children Tutoring Program.

Ashton Herbert of StepUp Ministry with Janie Young and Charlie Johnson, who founded the Alumni Children Tutoring Program.

Broughton High School senior Charlie Johnson graduates this week, but not after first leaving a lasting impression on StepUp Ministry. Last fall, he came to Children’s Coordinator Ashton Herbert with an idea for a tutoring program. From there, a great partnership was born, and the Alumni Children’s Tutoring Program began. Since January, Charlie and Janie Young (along with a few other Broughton students) have spent most Thursday evenings teaching math and science to the children of StepUp alumni. Children’s Coordinator Ashton Herbert recognized Charlie and Janie for their leadership and dedication at last Thursday’s Alumni program.

For Charlie, helping people through StepUp was a natural process. “As a member of White Memorial my whole life, I had a general understanding of StepUp and how much they help, and I really wanted to take part,” Charlie reflected. ”With the help of Ashton and everyone at StepUp, it was easy to piece together what turned out to be a really awesome program.”

 “I was inspired to help because of my previous work with StepUp through the National Charity League, and the joy I get from seeing the children every week,” Janie explained.

Charlie said developing relationships with each child was most valuable to him, and both he and Janie were excited to provide a valuable service to younger students. Janie also shared one of her favorite memories of a young girl who was so inspired by math that she asked Janie to teach lessons she had not yet learned in school.

Charlie will attend Appalachian State University in the fall, and Janie is headed to the University of Georgia. However, their commitment to the Alumni Tutoring Program is strong and they have recruited other Broughton students to keep working with the StepUp children.


“I am really impressed by their dedication to helping our Alumni children,” commented Ashton Herbert. “Charlie and Janie will be missed, but I am happy that future Broughton students will be continuing their efforts.”

For information about serving as a tutor on Thursday nights, please email Ashton Herbert or call 919-781-0156, ext. 120.

Thanks to Martin Marietta for supporting StepUp!
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StepUp’s Annual Impact Luncheon is just days away, and we are grateful to Martin Marietta for returning as the presenting sponsor of this event.

“Martin Marietta is committed to building the strong foundations that allow our communities to thrive,” says Dana Guzzo, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, Community Relations and Communications for Martin Marietta. “We are proud to partner with StepUp, an organization motivated by the same commitment. By addressing unemployment and teaching important skills to adults and children, StepUp provides an opportunity for people to live their best life.” 

Martin Marietta’s support helps StepUp continue to provide transformative employment and life skills programs for adults and children in our community. Thank you, Martin Marietta, for your continued partnership!

Seeking summer volunteers

We are looking for a few more volunteers this summer!

We have a pressing need for Children’s Program Helpers:  Work with children age 0-16 on special projects, class time, and other activities.

  • Tuesdays at White Memorial Presbyterian Church from 5:45 - 8:00 pm during June, July, and August

  • Thursdays at Hayes Barton Baptist Church from 5:45 - 8:00 pm

Occasionally we need tutors to help our elementary age students with writing and math on Tuesdays at White Memorial.

We still need 1-2 more Life Skills Co-Partners to be matched with a participant as a mentor in the Life Skills.  Together the participant and the co-partner walk through 3 phases of Life Skills, with a special focus on budgeting and goal setting.  

  • Tuesdays at White Memorial Presbyterian Church from 5:45 - 8:00 pm.  Next class begins June 25.

If you are interested in seeing the Adult and Children’s programs in action, please join us for a Life Skills Tour on any Tuesday night from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. 

To learn more, email Cynthia Walker, Volunteer Recruiter, or call Cynthia at (919) 781-0156, ext. 111.

Employment Weeks create opportunities

After 30 years of providing employment and life skills services in Wake County, StepUp has helped more than 3,500 individuals gain opportunities, jobs and the stability that comes from employment.

StepUp’s Employment Week is offered 22 times a year, providing networking, resume writing, professional attire, and interview preparation to help adults 18-60 in their job search.

StepUp is also seeking businesses from small to large to employ Employment Week graduates.  

If you know someone who needs support to find the next opportunity, please contact Dennis Jarmon. If you are an employer wishing to hire StepUp participants, please contact Toney Jefferys. We are excited to help you put your next amazing employee to work!

Lessons in Etiquette return to StepUp

School is almost out, and the children’s program has a lot to look forward to this summer!  

Ms. Donna is back to share her lessons in etiquette, and our children are eager to incorporate her positive changes in their lives. Ms. Donna’s goal is to turn our little girls into young ladies and our little boys into gentlemen by teaching proper manners. Each child will learn basic table etiquette, self-confidence, assertive communications, presentation skills and positive attitudes.  

We are excited to provide our children with these fundamental skills that will last for a lifetime and help provide the confidence that every child and young person deserves. We are grateful to the Carolina Hurricanes for their sponsorship of the Children’s Program, which has made this important instruction possible.

You just never know what will take place in the Children’s Program, so make sure you keep up with us this on this hot summer!

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Scattered to Serve

StepUp wants to say “Thank You” to Hayes Barton United Methodist Church for including us in their Scatter to Serve project on Saturday, May 4th. They sent a team of volunteers to come do Spring Cleaning in our office building. They worked hard and made it sparkle and feel good for employees and participants when they walked in on Monday.  

Are you interested in volunteering? Contact Cynthia Walker to learn more.

Meet Collin

The Children’s Team welcomed a new member to the family recently. We can already tell we are lucky to have Collin Morrison serving our young StepUp participants. When asked what motivates him, Collin responded, “I’m motivated in my role by the unlimited potential I see in teens who remind me of myself. Most times, a listening ear or mindful redirection can be the most important thing to a young person. We didn’t get all of the answers overnight, but as an adult, we are obligated to give them what we needed when we were their age. After all, our parents prepared us for a world that no longer exists, so we have to prepare them for the world that is NOW and the world that will be here tomorrow...”

StepUp Ministry Volunteers of the Year

StepUp could not get all the work that needs to be done without our many dedicated volunteers.  We recognized a few outstanding leaders of at our annual Volunteer Appreciation Fiesta at Cantina 18 on April 29.  

Our Volunteer of the Year Awards went to:

Overall Volunteer of the Year: Campbell Law School – Blanchard Legal Clinic and Restorative Justice Clinic

Employment Team: Charlie Warner

Adult Life Skills: Cynthia Whitney-Hopkins

Alumni: JoAnn Rey

Children’s Program: Liza Shelton

Development: Betsy Davis and Kathleen Hofstadter

Cynthia Whitney-Hopkins receives her award from Maxine Terry and Linda Nunnallee at the Volunteer Appreciation Party at Cantina 18 on April 29, 2019.

Cynthia Whitney-Hopkins receives her award from Maxine Terry and Linda Nunnallee at the Volunteer Appreciation Party at Cantina 18 on April 29, 2019.

We are grateful to all the many volunteers who support our work each year. Want to become one of those incredible volunteers? Contact Cynthia Walker today!

Check out the full gallery of photos from the event here!

Are you looking for a way to give back?

Have you ever needed someone to help you up? Have you ever needed an encouraging word? Serving as a co-partner provides a chance to invest deeply in someone's life, but many co-partners will tell you they are the ones receiving the reward.

StepUp Ministry is looking for Co-Partners for our Life Skills Program, where participants learn skills like budgeting and goal setting. Our goal is stability in all aspects of life over the long term. 

Not sure if you’re ready to commit? Come see Life Skills in action on a Tuesday night. 

Please contact Cynthia if you are interested: cwalker@stepupministry.org or (919) 781-0156 ext. 111

Big News from Wells Fargo Foundation

We are grateful for Wells Fargo’s longtime partnership! The Wells Fargo Foundation recently announced a $25,000 commitment to help StepUp continue delivering Employment and Life Skills Training for adults in Wake County.

 “Wells Fargo is proud to support StepUp’s commitment to the community. Through StepUp, individuals gain employment and stability, and the guidance to reach long term goals such as a college degree or homeownership,” says Suzie Koonce, community relations senior consultant at Wells Fargo.

StepUp Spotlight: Mitch Coles
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The Employment team is excited to recognize Mitch Coles, who completed our weeklong employment workshop back in February. Mitch came to the program with exceptional skills and experience in the IT industry, but was having a hard time connecting with the right opportunities.

After completion of the employment week, Mitch stayed connected with the Jobs team. He attended other StepUp workshops to hone his skills and utilized the StepUp program to extend his network. Most importantly, he continued to build confidence in the skills he possessed. He never stopped engaging and pushing forward with his career goals. This persistent drive landed Mitch a life-changing opportunity with Cisco Systems as a desktop publisher. 

These are encouraging words directly from Mitch:

“I do thank the StepUp Ministry for helping me with my confidence, sharpening my skills and even understanding and learning about individuals with criminal backgrounds. I don’t have one but I KNEW that information was greater than myself. I was able to share some of those things that I’ve learned in that class with others who do have one. Overall, my resume was revamped because of you guys, my confidence and my ability to have more range to look for different things. So again, thank you. Thank you all at StepUp Ministry.”

Easter: StepUp Style

The past few weeks, the StepUp Children’s program has been buzzing with excitement surrounding the Easter holiday. StepUp’s Young Professionals (YoPro) Committee and the Junior League hosted Easter Egg Hunts for our children (age birth-16) on Tuesday night, complete with egg dying, games, crafts, and of course, candy. Then, Alumni and StepUp Connect children celebrated Easter Thursday with an Easter Egg Hunt followed by egg dyeing and decorating.


We were able to send each child home with beautiful Easter baskets donated by St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. They donated 60 baskets, enough to give one to not only to all of our Tuesday night children and young adults, but also our Alumni children. It truly was amazing to see such beautiful baskets given to all of our StepUp kids. Thank you, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church!

Alumni Ambassadors
Katrina Lyons, Alumna and Board Member, speaks at StepUp Sunday.

Katrina Lyons, Alumna and Board Member, speaks at StepUp Sunday.

Our Alumni are now called Ambassadors as they are assigned as mentors to other graduates entering into the program. Recent graduates are engaged in Wake Tech Community College Career focused classes and our Toastmasters International Club (StepUp Speakers’ Circle).  In March, our club celebrated its 4th Year as a Toastmasters International club and are on schedule to receive a Distinguished Club Award for 2019. 

Members continue to expand their Public Speaking, Leadership and Communication skills through active engagement in the club. Alumni continue to serve as Club Officers such as Vice President of Education, Vice President of Public Relations, Secretary, Sergeant at Arms, Vice President of Membership. 

Timothy Johnson, Alumnus, with Governor Roy Cooper after speaking at StepUp Sunday.

Timothy Johnson, Alumnus, with Governor Roy Cooper after speaking at StepUp Sunday.

As a member of Toastmasters International, alumni/members are invited to speak at various events. To further demonstrate their toastmasters’ skills, two of our alumni had the honor of speaking before the Governor of North Carolina, the Honorable Roy Cooper. Timothy Johnson, a December 2018 Life Skills graduate and Katrina Lyons, Alumni/StepUp Ministry Board Member. Both shared their story and journey during StepUp Sunday held at White Memorial Presbyterian Church on Sunday, January 13, 2019. Governor Cooper expressed his deep commitment and respect for the work that takes place at StepUp Ministry indicating he looked forward to StepUp Sunday each year. 

Love marketing? Love trivia? Love StepUp?

We’ve partnered with the American Marketing Association to host the Big Marketing Pub Quiz, a charity marketing trivia meet to benefit StepUp. Enjoy food, drink, and five action-packed rounds of brainteasers in marketing pop culture, history, strategy, and more!

Net proceeds will go to benefit StepUp’s mission to enable adults and children to transform their lives through employment and life skills training.

Tickets are just $10. Seating is limited—register today at http://www.amatriangle.org/events/pub-quiz-2019/

StepUp Ministry
StepUp Spotlight: Brittany Lewis

Coming through the doors on Monday, StepUp Employment Workshop participant Brittany Lewis felt hopeful. By Friday, after 32 hours spent learning about networking, resume writing, dressing for success and preparing for the interview, Brittany feels accomplished. With two interviews already lined up with a pharmaceutical company and doctor’s office, Brittany is ready to spring forward into a new opportunity.

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A House Becomes a Home

This month one of our young adults had the opportunity to go shopping at The Green Chair Project to purchase furniture for her family. Keshondra Montague is an amazing young Women who started our Real World Program last June. When she came to Step Up she had already completed High School at the age of 16 and she had a list of goals for what was next in her life. She is now enrolled at Wake Tech and continues to work full time. One of her goals was to save money and get furniture for her family, and just like many of her other goals she was able to achieve that goal!  


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Celebrate with Jamekah

Meet Jamekah. Jamekah enjoys fashion designing, writing songs, and singing. Jamekah has been employed at Nationwide Insurance since March 2017 as a Member’s Care Representative. James Ivy, her father and a Life Skills graduate, referred her to the program. After a year in Step Two, Jamekah and her two children, Cashual and Cali, will graduate tonight. 

Come celebrate all the graduates’ hard work and resilience with us TONIGHT, March 28 at 6 pm at Christ Church.


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