Posts in Alumni
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.

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. 

Alumni Advance

StepUp’s Alumni program welcomed five new members from our September 2018 Life Skills graduation class. They are actively attending Wake Tech classes and three are members of our Toastmasters International club. Congratulations and welcome fellow toastmasters.

Three Alumni received their Wheels4Hope cars last month. 

Two Alumni moved into new homes with their families.

Last month, alumni were gifted with a free professional development session from Josh Bledsoe, a Dale Carnegie Professional Trainer. Josh’s gift was part of Dale Carnegie’s Professional Day of Giving. More than 20 alumni enjoyed the workshop focused on getting participants comfortable with speaking publicly and within small groups on various topics with ease.

Alumni held their final Wake Tech Class night on December 6th. The class was entitled Vision Boards for 2019 Career Goals. Participants worked on their 2019 career goals which will be used to develop future career classes for the 2019 program year. Alumni Elizabeth (Lizzie) Price and James Ivy, Jr. presented their boards focused on entrepreneurship. Each received a door prize for their participation. 

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Alumni in the Digital Age
Kramden Digital Literacy Class

Alumni parents and teens were part of an exciting Digital Literacy Class which they attended for six weeks. Upon completion of the program, each family received two computers for their home. Topics covered included: basic use of computers, internet security, software and hardware, and financial freedom (taught by Coastal Federal Credit Union).

This program was sponsored by a grant through Coastal Federal Credit Union. This grant was made possible through our community partnership with Kramden Institute. 

In addition, our StepUp Speakers Circle elected new offices for the 2018-2019 Club Year.

The Club recently received a Smedley Ribbon for its efforts to recruit and retain members. 

Club Officers:

President: Maxine Terry

VP Education: Tyshone Peterson

VP Membership: Mercedes Ortiz

VP Public Relations: Hind Laraj

Secretary/Treasurer: Elaine Bryant-Donigan

Sergeant at Arms: Joe Ortiz


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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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Alumni News

StepUp Ministry’s Alumni program continues to grow. We had 75% engagement from our most recent graduates in our June 2017 Life Skills Class. We’re looking forward to having them join in on Wake Tech class and become Toastmasters members. Two alumnae attended a three-day conference (Transform U Live) sponsored by Journey Principles Institute.  They will also participate in a live radio taping in August.  Stay tuned for more.


Spotlight on StepUp Alumni

Alum Nickia Baker is published. Her company (Sheer Elegance Events NC) was recently featured in Munaluchi Bridal online for her work as a wedding event planner.  More information can be found at


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Alumni Give Back

Two of our StepUp Alumni have been busy mentoring and gaining career advancement skills. Alums Nickia Baker and Brandon Lowery recently became Mentors for Sageworks, through the Inmates to Entrepreneurs Program. They work closely with program staff and leadership team to help former inmates start over through entrepreneurship opportunities.  We congratulate them on their appointment as they mentor others on the path to entrepreneurship. 


Our Alumni children continue to receive tutoring on program night while their parents attend Wake Technical Community College sponsored classes or our Toastmasters Club – StepUp Speakers’ Circle. 


Alumni program attendance (adults/children) continues to grow, with an average weekly attendance of 12 – 15 per night.

StepUp Speakers’ Circle of Toastmasters International would like to welcome 8 new member and 3 re-activating members. New members include StepUp staff and volunteers.  

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

StepUp Life Skills, Alumni, and Employment Week participants, along with staff and 30 volunteers, came together for our annual Christmas party. After sharing a delicious holiday meal, we played a game of Family Feud, heard festive tunes, and took plenty of pictures in the photo booth. Santa stopped by to hear the Christmas wishes of our children, and we got to enjoy some Christmas songs by the Fountain Singers from the Fountain of Raleigh and the Junior League of Raleigh Choir. Thanks to everyone who gave of their time and talents to make this event a success!


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Alumni Partners

StepUp Ministry has partnered with Wake Technical Community College/HRD Program to create a Career Assistance Lab. StepUp Alum are able to attend Wake Tech sponsored classes during weekly alumni meetings. This partnership began in July 2016. Alum are able to receive Continuing Education credits for successful completion of the courses.

StepUp Alumni Program is also blessed to have a new partnership with Edenton Street United Methodist Church’s Missional Community. In October, the ESMC Missional Community group began providing provide Alumni meals on the third Thursday of each month. In addition, volunteers will provide activities for the children and in 2017 the group will provide information sessions and seminars with Alumni adults. 

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