StepUp Ministry Finds Reason to Celebrate the End of Summer

Bashirah Hill was reunited with her teen daughter earlier this year. Together, Bashirah and her daughter Hope moved into their new 2-bedroom home. The family visited Green Chair to select furniture and other items for their new home. It was a great joy experiencing them customize and beautify their new home together. Picking out new furniture was a game-changer for Bashirah. She shared that she had been using the furniture left in her apartment by the previous tenant. They chose pieces for their living room, dining room, and bedroom. After furnishing their new house, Bashirah told us: "This now feels like home."



Amirah Wright became the proud owner of a Wheels 4 Hope vehicle this month. The Car Blessing took place at the church where the car donor, who is also a volunteer mechanic for Wheels 4 Hope, is a member. The evening began with church members providing a meal for the family and continued with brief remarks from Wheels 4 Hope staff and the donor. Afterward, the Car Blessing commenced in the parking lot. Amirah and her three children then drove off in their new vehicle. As it so happened, Amirah was offered a full-time position earlier that day, which will provide her with stable employment. Having the Car Blessing on the same day as receiving news of permanent employment was a dream come true for Amirah. Amirah is well on her way to stable employment, something that has been a concern of hers after having her third child a year ago. Amirah now believes that she is in the position to become more involved in the Alumni program and is willing to be a proud Ambassador for StepUp Ministry.



Earlier this month, Wanda Daramola, an Alumni Ambassador, participated in a Back to School Event and Information Session sponsored by the City of Cary in partnership with StepUp Ministry, Cary Emergency Response Team, Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church, Wake County Human Services, and Telamon Head Start. Wanda shared the experiences she and her family had at StepUp. She also facilitated the information session that included questions from attendees. The day was full of food and fun, as well as book bags filled with school supplies. The event included games and face painting, but the highlight of the day may have been the visit from a few local firefighters on their fire truck.

StepUp Children Cure End of Summer Blues with New Foods

The Children’s Program recently finished their summer field trip outings and is now focusing on the upcoming school year. We are always trying to expose our children to new and exciting things to create a fun learning environment. This month we had the pleasure of hosting a talented young lady who works in the culinary arts named Carmen. Carmen wanted to introduce the children to bold flavors and new ingredients. Her goal was to teach the children how to prepare quick, healthy meals with food readily available in the kitchen. It's not uncommon to find ourselves coming home from a long day of work or school with little time to prepare a meal. To learn how to overcome this, each child had the opportunity to construct a tasty meal using the ingredients available to them in the classroom. Carmen taught the children to concoct a quick, delicious meal that satisfies both our hunger and time constraints. This was our first time introducing the children to cooking. Everyone enjoyed their experiences, though, and we are planning to cook with the children more often!

YoPro Committee Helps Send StepUp Children Back to School with New Gear

This month we had the pleasure of sending the StepUp Children back to school with new backpacks and school supplies! Vintage Church North held a backpack drive earlier this month, and thanks to our YoPro Committee leader Jeff Minor, and Vintage Church North member Jessica Hughey, StepUp was a benefactor of their efforts. The YoPro Committee continues to help us partner with fantastic organizations in our community. Over the past year, YoPro has been instrumental in StepUp's mission by fundraising for We StepUp, Share The Pie and the StepUp luncheon. They dedicate their time to the Life Skills Program as Co-Partners and the Alumni Program as Nursery Helpers on Thursday nights. YoPro also helped collect items for swag bags given out at StepUp's 30th Anniversary celebration, coordinate the Snack Bag Event, and provide support for the Easter Egg Hunt. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming involved with YoPro, please contact Jeff Minor, the YoPro Committee leader.

Join Our Community of Volunteers at StepUp Ministry

StepUp's community of volunteers helps move our mission forward every day. Whether the role is with the Adults Program or Children’s Program or assisting with fundraising or events, the value of each volunteer is immeasurable. Everyone that dedicates their time to StepUp helps create a strong foundation on which our participants can learn, transform, and succeed. We are always looking for new volunteers, specifically Co-Partners and Nursery Helpers (Alumni Program on Thursday nights). StepUp would also like to bring in an Administrative Assistant to help our office staff. If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering, you can contact Cynthia Walker, StepUp Ministry's Volunteer Coordinator. You can also learn more about each volunteer role and sign up online.

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Coastal Credit Union Sponsors Digital Literacy Class at StepUp

The Kramden Institute returned to StepUp to present the Digital Literacy Class to the alumni ambassadors and their teens. This five-week program, sponsored by Coastal Credit Union, allowed adults and their teens to learn about hardware and software, internet security, and financial freedom. Parents were educated on parental controls to monitor online computer access with their teens. At the end of the program, each family received two laptops for their homes, complete with one-year tech support subscriptions. In addition, StepUp Ministry provided laptop bags with other goodies for each adult/child completing the class. 


“We are pleased to support StepUp Ministry’s employment and life skills programs,” said Creighton Blackwell, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Community Engagement for Coastal Credit Union.  “This program allows Life Skills graduates to continue building professional skills and stability for themselves and their families.”

StepUp Ministry
Serving with StepUp: Providing Friendship to Support Change

Andrew Rose has served on StepUp’s board for the past two years, but his StepUp journey began in 2009 when he was invited to take a tour of the Life Skills program.


StepUp serves approximately 160 adults in its Life Skills program every year. Each participant is paired with a mentor called a co-partner. For 36 weeks, the co-partner and participant spend Tuesday evenings together, sharing dinner, friendship, learning financial skills, and setting goals. Andrew was interested immediately. 

“I saw volunteers from all walks of life helping individuals create a new future and walking along with them,” he remembers. “As a financial planner by trade, helping plan ahead and serve, I knew StepUp was the right place for me (to volunteer).”  

Ten years ago, Andrew met the first participant he would mentor. As a young professional, Andrew says he initially had concerns about his effectiveness to lead and be a valued mentor. “But the resources to guide her came from StepUp through the staff and the fellow co-partners,” he recalls. ”Being true, being a friend, and being committed to serving every Tuesday helped build the trust and partnership we both needed to succeed.” 


Andrew’s ninth participant, Hope, graduated from Life Skills in June. He stays in touch with all nine of the Life Skills participants he has supported and continues to celebrate their successes.


He fondly remembers Dale, who came to StepUp many years ago. StepUp provided many of the resources Dale utilized to rebuild his life. Dale was able to find work and repair the relationships with his family. Today, Dale owns a successful commercial cleaning company and employs a handful of citizens in our community.

“Dale illustrates the resiliency of humans, the proof of commitment, and the gift of Grace,” Andrew explains. “Dale helped provide guidance for me as well.” 

We are currently seeking volunteers to serve as co-partners for the Life Skills class beginning in September. The role requires a couple of hours on Tuesday evenings, a willingness to learn, and an open heart. 

Interested in learning more? Contact Cynthia Walker with questions or to schedule your tour of the Life Skills program.

New Community Leaders Join StepUp Board

StepUp welcomed five new board members on July 1! The following community leaders will serve three-year terms on the board of directors. 

Allison Glenn is a long-time StepUp supporter, as her husband Jennings is a past board member. The Glenn family is active at White Memorial Presbyterian Church, and Allison is excited to support the program committee. 

Kathleen Hofstadter is a familiar face to many who know StepUp and recently co-chaired the 30th Anniversary Celebration with Betsy Davis. This was not the first time this dynamic duo collaborated for StepUp, having previously been on the staff as co-volunteer coordinators! Kathleen and her husband Bob have also volunteered as co-partners. Kathleen will serve on the Development Committee. 

James Ivy, Jr is honored and excited to be one of three StepUp Alumni serving on the board. James leads his own business, Executive Grooming Services, in addition to working at a local hotel. James also is an author and recently published 35 Principles on the Road to Redemption: My Journey to Me. James will lend his valuable insights to the Program Committee.

Jeff Minor has been involved with StepUp’s YoPro for the last two years and will serve as a non-voting board member as the Chair of the YoPro committee. Jeff and his wife, Kerry, have two young sons and are active members of Vintage Church. Jeff works as a performance business advisor for Insperity. In addition to leading YoPro this year, Jeff will serve on the Development Committee.

Bill Wenner oversees the auto division for Wells Fargo and serves on the bank’s foundation committee that reviews grant requests. After reviewing StepUp’s application in 2017, he sought information on becoming a co-partner and mentored a Life Skills participant. Bill volunteers for more than 10 area nonprofits and emphasizes community service among his employees as well. Bill will serve on the Program Committee.

StepUp Ministry
Raleigh Renaissance Program Introduces StepUp Children to Arts & Culture

StepUp children experience many new activities through the Raleigh Renaissance program! This summer, the children have visited Hope Reins (a therapeutic riding facility for children) and Historic Stagville in Durham. They also helped with a service project with the Diaper Bank of NC, one of our community partners. They also were treated to a performance of Annie at the NC Theatre. Future activities include trips to the Museum of Life and Science, the NC Museum of Art, and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. There is also a campus tour of UNC planned, followed by a visit to the school’s historical museum.

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: or (919) 781-0156 ext. 111