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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StepUp Ministry
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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StepUp Ministry
Alumni News

Alumni program participants have been engaged in Wake Tech Classes such as: Social Media Etiquette, Workplace Ethics and Negotiating Pay Raises. Enrollment continues to grow as well as number of alumni children attending classes with their parents.

StepUp Speakers’ Circle of Toastmasters International welcomed six new members. New members are working towards their first “prepared” speech project: The Ice Breaker Speech in which they will practice their public speaking and communications skills towards achieving status as a Competent Communicator.

Four Alumni, Margaret Medina, Deborah Norfleet, Tyshone Peterson, and Wanda Daramola, received Wheels4Hope cars, which will provide transportation for them to continuously attend classes and club meetings.

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Rhythm and Rhyme

The month of November was very exciting for our children because of so many activities happening. As we continued our last set of activities for Raleigh Renaissance, Sharlene, a spoken word poet, writer, and speaker, exposed our children to rhyming words.

We even had some of our children create some of their own poetry and read a piece that was written by Sharlene. We love that our children are being taught new and different things.

Spoken word has become one of our favorite activities and we look forward to having more opportunities for all of our children. 

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Use Your Sewing Skills for a Good Cause

GG's Closet, a part of StepUp Ministry, serves the men in the Employment Program every other week by providing them interview appropriate business attire. These men are actively trying to improve their life situations by obtaining employment.


It is GG's Closet’s mission to help these individuals interview with confidence by looking their best.  It is so rewarding to see the transformation in the men's self-esteem when they feel good about their appearance.

GG’s Closet is in need of volunteer seamstresses who are willing to do minor alterations, such as hemming and altering the waists of pants. We meet two Wednesdays each month at 12:30 pm, and are located at 4328 Bland Road.

The altered clothing is delivered to the Employment Workshop the following day where it is distributed to the men for their mock interviews on Friday. Volunteers providing this service make the difference between someone receiving an ill-fitting hand-me-down and someone receiving interview clothing that actually fits!

If you enjoy sewing and serving others, please consider this important opportunity to volunteer with StepUp and GG’s Closet! Contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Kathleen Liebowitz,, if you are interested in this opportunity.


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StepUp Ministry
Overcoming and Becoming
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Bashirah first entered StepUp’s doors in 2014.  Though encountering many obstacles, she was perseverant in her efforts to complete the 48-week Life Skills program. 

Throughout her journey she has maintained employment as a Personal Care Aide, gained custody of her 11-year-old daughter, and purchased a car through Wheels4Hope. Bashirah is currently in Phase IV of the Life Skills program with 7 weeks remaining before completing this stage of her journey.

When you see Bashirah please help us in congratulating her for her dedication and achievements. 

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StepUp Ministry
Real World Gives Back

StepUp’s Real World and Children’s programs partnered with Green Chair Project for a recent service project.  We were able to create 30+ welcome home baskets for the Green Chair, filled with cleaning supplies. 

It is important for our young adults to understand the importance of volunteering and supporting other people.  We were happy to support Green Chair as they welcome families in Raleigh into their new homes.

Special thanks goes out to the Green Chair, and their volunteers and also to all the StepUp Ministry volunteers who donated supplies for this service project.

The Real World Program is a program for young adults ages 16 to 21 years old.  We focus on promoting positive decision making, pursuing educational opportunities, enhancing communication skills, and developing professionalism. 

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StepUp Ministry
Co-Partners Needed

Are you interested in volunteering in a meaningful way, making an impact on someone’s journey?  If so, we have just the opportunity for you! 


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

Each adult is partnered with a staff case manager and a volunteer from the community, who is called a “co-partner”.  The purpose of a co-partner is to provide yet another arm of support to inspire lasting change in the participants’ lives.

Co-partnering is a nine-month commitment every Tuesday (at White Memorial Presbyterian Church) or Wednesday (Christ Episcopal Church) night from 6-8:15pm. Commitment involves meeting once each week to work with an individual as they go through the Life Skills program. 

Our next group of co-partners will start in March, so let us know if you are interested, and we will get you signed up for training.


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StepUp Ministry
Barriers Busted

Each Employment Week there is a room full of individuals determined to utilize every tool they have learned during the week to not only land the job, but also to provide for their family, strengthen their community, and be the best possible version of themselves.

Brandon Anderson was already doing all of those things, but the lack of reliable transportation and a criminal background were creating barriers to employment.

One of the main goals Brandon shared was his desire to provide for his son. It was clear how sincere that desire was by the determination Brandon showed as he enhanced his interview skills and partnered with his Employment Counselor on his journey towards stability.

Unfortunately, Brandon faced a tragic loss shortly after Jobs Week. Instead of letting that deter him from accomplishing his goals, he used it as a driving force to continue going forward.

He has been working at Royce Company, where his employer has been very impressed by the work ethic and positive attitude that Brandon brings to the workplace.

And his dedication does not stop there. Brandon serves the non-profit organizations Unity in the Community, Justice Served, and Sleeping Giants in some capacity.

He constantly puts into action the words, “You are only as strong as the people you surround yourself with.” By serving in his community, he is ensuring that the community will be as successful as he is.

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StepUp Ministry
Meet Ty

Meet Ty.


Ty “didn’t have the greatest childhood” and found herself moving from home to home, in and out of foster care.  She described herself as rebellious in her teenage years, as she often got into trouble.

Young, alone, without means of transportation, desperate for a change, she moved to Raleigh.

Ty heard about StepUp from her mother and decided to give it a shot.

Ty completed StepUp’s Employment Week and StepUp helped her find employment. She started working at a local grocery store within walking distance of her apartment. 

Ambitious and wanting to learn, Ty asked her grocery store manager to cross-train her so she could be competitive for a management position.

Ty joined StepUp’s year-long Life Skills Program. She bonded with her mentors as they helped her make a plan to achieve her personal, professional, and financial goals.

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Ty said, “Everything that I learned through StepUp on how to approach different jobs, step outside my comfort zone, to stop living in fear, I took heed of that. And then I just went to get something better for myself.”

Today, Ty is in a management position at a local retailer, with plans to be on the executive team. She shared with us that she regularly uses the skills taught at StepUp to empower and train her team.

In her free time she enjoys exercising, fashion, and blogging. She attends the StepUp Alumni Program twice a month and participates in Toastmasters.

Ty left StepUp feeling confident and determined. YOU can help someone else do the same. 

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StepUp Ministry
Tuesday Night Talent

On Tuesday night in the children’s program we spend a portion of the night doing homework or something academic. This generally looks like kids sitting around the tables with the help of our wonderful volunteers working hard on homework, reading books, or challenging themselves with flash cards or trivia.

One of our phase one participants challenged the norm this week by letting us know that the only homework he had for the night was to practice his clarinet. Shawn is new to StepUp and had already started to make a good impression with our staff and volunteers. He is a 6th grader who has a love for music as well as talent. One of our volunteers went and sat outside in the Courtyard so that Shawn had the opportunity to work on his homework during this time as well.


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Welcome to the team!

Meet Katie Simpson, Intake Coordinator.

Katie Simpson

Where are you from originally?

Fort Collins, CO

What do you love about your job?

I love seeing the heart behind StepUp and the week being done here to seek the welfare of the city.

What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?

Going hiking or walking outside or throwing a football or frisbee around

Fun Fact about yourself:

I’m known for making really great snickerdoodles


Meet Toneisha Williams, Life Skills Case Manager.

Toneisha Williams

Where are you from originally?

Eastern North Carolina

What do you love about your job?

I love that everyone shares the same vision and is dedicated to the mission of StepUp Ministry and that the work that we do makes a difference in the lives of the people of our community.

What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?

Scrapbooking and playing with Cooper (my 4 month old puppy)

Fun Fact about yourself:

I enjoy taking cruises and parasailing


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Share the Pie Kickoff Party - You're Invited!

Please join us as we celebrate the beginning of a new year of Share the Pie! The party will be at St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar on Wednesday, October 18 at 6:00 p.m. There will be a pie tasting from Raleigh’s most generous bakers, beats by 12-year old phenom DJ Colin Bunn, and bites from Chef Sunny Gerhart of St. Roch’s. If you are a pie seller, please arrive at 5:30 for training.

StepUp Ministry
A New Generation of StepUp Support

Last Wednesday, StepUp’s new Young Professionals Committee hosted their first event! The event was a huge success, bringing longtime volunteers and friends of StepUp together with new, fresh faces who are interested in what we do.


The YoPro Committee was formed to encourage a new generation of volunteerism through creative program development and initiatives to support StepUp Ministry’s fundraising efforts. 


The YoPro Committee is made up of four sub-committees: events, programs, marketing, and membership, each serving StepUp Ministry in different ways. If you are a young professional, and one of those areas interests you, contact Carryl Tinsley, to find out how you can get involved!


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StepUp Spotlight: Nikolas Wright


In 2007, Nikolas Wright and a friend both applied for employment with several employers, simultaneously. His friend, subsequently, got hired, relatively quickly.  However, Nikolas, who had been seeking stable employment for an extended number of years, did not have the same results. After self-evaluation, Nikolas noted that the one difference between himself and his friend was the friend had completed a weeklong Employment Workshop at StepUp Ministry.

He made the decision to enroll himself, and, after completion, Nikolas revisited one of those employers he’d applied to previously and secured employment.  Nikolas is now a certified HVAC Installer with Newcomb & Company where he has worked for the last 10 years! He recently reflected that, “…the skills I obtained and the things I learned made a difference. That one week class changed the rest of my life.”

When individuals step IN, WE Step UP!!


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