Black History Month: History in the Making
 

February was Black History Month, but in StepUp’s Children’s Program, we celebrate it every month because we see history in the making every day. We attempt to expose every child to something new in our program. In celebration of black history, most of our children have done projects at school, and some even participated in after school shows. My challenge for each of my students was to find a particular person in history they have never heard of and research their contributions, inventions, or discoveries.

One of our children took it to another level and participated in a Black History show at her school. Lleya Curtis is active in many things like dance, cheerleading, and art. I had the chance to watch this fabulous young lady bring history to her school. I believe it is important to teach our young people that no matter what you do, always do your best. Lleya did a great job representing Black History Month through dance! 

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StepUp Spotlight: LeaAndra Faulkner
 
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LeaAndra Faulkner, a 2018 Life Skills Graduate, is very creative and is compassionate about assisting those who are in need. She and her daughters crochet sleeping mats out of plastic grocery bags for the homeless population and distribute them to individuals.

LeaAndra Faulkner, a native of Baltimore, MD, currently works as a Certified Nurse Assistant. When she came to StepUp, she was seeking an opportunity to improve her life by making necessary changes that would positively impact her and her family. She is a mother of two beautiful girls, Joelle and Johanna.

LeaAndra began her Life Skills journey on January 3, 2018 and graduated on December 13, 2018. She has not gone anywhere, and we love seeing her each week in our Alumni Program.

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GG's Closet Has a New Home
 

The cliché “It Takes a Village” was recently more than a trendy phrase for StepUp Ministry. It was truly lived out when our Men’s Clothing Closet, GG's Closet, needed a new home. Many thanks to the volunteer work of First National Bank, Relias, Inc., members of Westminster Presbyterian, and GG’s Closet Founders, Carolyn Johnson, and Ann Hanley.  The move involved clearing out old furniture, cleaning, painting, packing, and moving many racks of clothing, shoes, furniture, etc.  Also, StepUp would like to thank Westminster Presbyterian for providing the space, Sherman Williams on Peace Street for donating supplies, and Linda Craft Realty for usage of their moving truck. Again, many thanks to everyone coming together to help!

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Busy Little Ones
 
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January has been a month of great change in the nursery on Tuesday nights! We had quite a few little friends graduate in December, and we are excited to see them begin a new chapter in their lives. With the start of the new phase, we also welcomed a lot of new faces to the nursery as well. We had not only new children join the program, but also a few new volunteers as well. It has made the first few weeks very busy and exciting all at once. The first night of the new phase, we had over 15 children between ages birth-5, which was wonderful. We were able to split into three different age groups during the night, and have volunteers and staff take advantage of having multiple rooms to use at White Memorial, which has made all the difference. Please reach out to us  if you would like to join this growing bunch and volunteer with the nursery!

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StepUp Spotlight: Nakol Curtis
 
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Nakol was introduced to StepUp in 2011.  She initially joined because she wanted something different; but, she hadn’t quite mapped out the path to reach “success”.  She completed the week-long employment workshop, secured employment and joined the Life Skills program.  Unfortunately, halfway through her Life Skills journey, Nakol had to step away from the program to regroup.  Fast forward to seven years later - Nakol never lost sight of her goal of successfully completing Life Skills.  In 2018, Nakol rejoined Life Skills to finish what she started.  She is currently in Phase III of Life Skills, a Wake County employee, and an amazing mother.  Nakol, we celebrate you and your resilience.

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New Year, New Energy
 

The new year has brought an amazing start for the employment team. Along with adding a few great new employers to the roster, our Bi-weekly ENER-G program provided a space for over 10 participants to have face to face interviews with the employers’ present. One of the highlights from the start of this year comes from the most recent employment week, were 9 amazing individuals graduated. The class from last week was filled with individuals from all different walks of life, but had one common goal of finding employment opportunities. 

As the class made their journey through the week, they discovered much more than an opportunity for a job; they discovered hope. This hope was reflected on the last day of class, when the participants decided to stand up and speak about how their lives were changed in just one week. The employment team pushes forward to ensure that every class that follows, receives this same hope. Hope to move forward, and achieve every goal each participant sets for themselves. 

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Partnering Together to Change Lives: First National Bank and StepUp Ministry
 
First National Bank employees pictured above help paint StepUp Ministry’s new GG’s Closet space on January 24, 2019. This clothing closet allows job seekers to get interview clothing.

First National Bank employees pictured above help paint StepUp Ministry’s new GG’s Closet space on January 24, 2019. This clothing closet allows job seekers to get interview clothing.

At StepUp Ministry, we enjoy working with a broad group of corporate, government and individual partners who help support and enable us to provide guidance and new opportunities for those looking to change and improve their life. Taking the initiative to transform one’s life is no small task and usually filled with many obstacles and challenges. Ensuring we have the right people and resources in place greatly helps our participants, giving them the courage and determination to move forward and succeed. 

First National Bank employees pictured above help bring in donated presents to StepUp’s Christmas party held on December 20, 2018, at our Alumni Program.

First National Bank employees pictured above help bring in donated presents to StepUp’s Christmas party held on December 20, 2018, at our Alumni Program.

We have a lot more work ahead of us, but it is important that we celebrate all we have accomplished and thank members of the Raleigh community who have generously supported our mission. StepUp’s 30th Anniversary Gala event on January 26, 2019, will be a special time for everyone to come together, exchange stories and learn about the courage it takes to reach your goals and build a better life. The presenting sponsor for the gala, First National Bank (FNB), shares our mission of providing new, life altering opportunities for adults, children and teenagers living in Wake County.

FNB has maintained a commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities it serves since 1864. Built on a culture of giving back, employees remain active in their local communities through volunteerism, board service and fundraisers. FNB also gives back through financial support, partnering with local organizations throughout their footprint to address the needs of the community and make an impact where it matters most. 

First National Bank employees pictured above help move into StepUp Ministry’s new GG’s Closet space on January 24, 2019. This clothing closet allows job seekers to get interview clothing.

First National Bank employees pictured above help move into StepUp Ministry’s new GG’s Closet space on January 24, 2019. This clothing closet allows job seekers to get interview clothing.

Working with partners such as FNB helps raise greater awareness and visibility around many of the difficult issues people face. It also provides us with another resource channel to aid our participants in their journey to greater stability and career success. FNB offers a wide range of community development programs designed to strengthen local communities, including Home Ownership and Home Rehabilitation Programs, financial education workshops, Educational Improvement Tax Credits and more. Partnering with others to change lives is critical to our success and we appreciate what organizations like First National Bank have done to help us make a difference and continue making a difference. 

More information about StepUp Ministry’s 30th Anniversary including ticket details can be found at www.stepupministry.org/30th.  

 

 

 

 
Discovering New Opportunities
 

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year to discover new opportunities.

StepUp’s Employment Team brings job opportunities to its participants through almost 200 employer partnerships within the community. We want to take the guess work out of job seeking by not only providing career development soft skills, interviewing techniques, resume writing, and workplace etiquette, but also providing available job leads too.

When participants attend our ENER-G Workshop they get introduced to employers like Headway Hospitality looking to hire from us. We love watching as participants discover new opportunities.

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Santa's Workshop
 

On December 5, we had one of our favorite events of the year called “Santa’s Workshop”. During this event we transform the Gym at White Memorial into the ultimate shopping experience for our youth. The nursery, the children’s program, and the Real World program have the opportunity to come and shop for their parents and loved ones. This year we had a large selection of new and gently used items for them to choose from thanks to donations from the community. After shopping, they head over to the gift-wrapping stations to put a special touch on their gifts. The Junior League of Raleigh also had holiday craft stations set up for the kids to partake in after shopping. This event brings so much joy to the children of StepUp because it gives them the opportunity to give something special to the ones who care for them all year long. 

 
 
 

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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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Movers and Shakers, Quite Literally
 
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As we started November, we had a chance to partner with a young lady who is very passionate about dance. Dancing requires a lot of movement and stretching, and StepUp Children seem to really enjoy learning the different kinds of movements she shares with us. Our goal for StepUp’s Children’s Program is to expose them to as many new activities as possible, so stay tuned for some more interesting and fun new things happening with our young movers and shakers! 

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StepUp Spotlight: Tousha Fowler
 
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This month’s featured participant of the Step Two Program is Tousha Fowler, who is currently in Phase One. Tousha has been employed at Community Management Corporation since June 2017 as their property manager. Tousha was referred to the StepUp Ministry’s Life Skills program by her aunt, Delores Lucas, who is a graduate of life skills. In 1992, Tousha was in a tragic automobile accident. While she survived the accident, she lost her hand, but she does not let that stop her. She copes with her handicap by playing basketball, softball, and attending Strayer University, all while working a full-time job. She is a former basketball player for Louisburg College and coached basketball for the Varsity Women at Knightdale High School for seven years. Tousha is an inspiration to us all. We applaud Tousha’s resilience and hard work. Keep on stepping up!

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Spreading Our Wings
 

Community partnerships help StepUp to broaden our base and serve persons in additional outlets.  The Employment program has “spread our wings” over the course of the past year and held workshop weeks at the Salvation Army, the Wake County Human Services complex, in Wake Forest, and at Dorcas Ministries in Cary, NC.  We are excited to increase the footprint of the program and look to explore additional resource partnerships and locations as we enter the new calendar year.  Contact the Employment Team Lead, Dennis A. Jarmon, for more information about how your organization/you can help!

This photo is from the StepUp Employment Week Workshop held at Dorcas Ministries in November.

This photo is from the StepUp Employment Week Workshop held at Dorcas Ministries in November.

 

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Make It Happen
 

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”

-Michael Jordan

Making it happen is exactly what John Converse, a participant in the jobs program did, when it came to his opportunity for employment. John came through the program this summer, searching for an opportunity to grow both personally, and professionally. Once completing the employment week, he faced a few challenges with getting employed, but did not let those issues stop him.

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About a month ago, John decided to join our culinary training program, developed through our partnership with N.C. State University. John stayed committed to the four-week training, and upon completing his training was offered a position in the university dining hall.

Most individuals would not have seen the big picture of giving four weeks of your time in order to get to an opportunity, but John did. He saw the opportunity, wanted the opportunity, and he made it happen.

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StepUp Spotlight: Johanna Catedral-Arias
 

Johanna Catedral-Arias is a native of Puerto Rico. When she came to StepUp she was seeking an opportunity to improve her life by making necessary changes that would positively impact her family. She is a mother to three wonderful boys Ramsesses, Hector and Zahid.

Johanna began her journey with StepUp on November 13, 2017, where she completed the Employment Workshop. She is currently enrolled in Phase IV of the Life Skills program. Since her involvement with StepUp, she has gained full-time employment with the Hyatt House at North Hills, moved into her own two-bedroom apartment, and was able to secure furnishing with the Green Chair Project.

We are so proud of all of Johanna’s accomplishments and can’t wait to see where her journey will lead.

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Growth and Volunteering in the Nursery
 

StepUp Ministry’s youngest participants have had a lot of excitement in the past few months!  Without our volunteers, we would not be able to create a special environment for them to learn and grow. The children love seeing familiar faces each week, and two of those familiar faces are Jacob Swanger and Diann Kearney. Read their stories below…

Jacob Swanger: 

“I can honestly say volunteering in the nursery at StepUp is one of the most rewarding things I do with my time. I was aimlessly looking at different volunteer opportunities for a while before I found my perfect match at StepUp. The staff, participants, and their kids are all amazing. Being a part of peoples’ lives while they go through such profound change and growth is incredible. 

You should join the nursery volunteers if (1) you have a passion for positively impacting people’s lives, or (2) you like fostering a fun, nurturing, educational, and lighthearted environment for little ones. An added bonus is you will never leave that place without a smile. I could be having the hardest day at work but it goes away with the kids’ laughter and fun. 

I have been volunteering for about a year now, and my favorite memory is playing hide and go seek in the nursery. All the kids hid in the same place including one little girl that didn’t usually play with the others. When I turned the corner and surprised them they all went crazy with laughter… made my week!”

 

Diann Kearney: 

“After retiring from a 30-year career in public education, I was looking for ways to continue to support our community, and StepUp Ministry has allowed me to do so as a volunteer in the nursery. I have been inspired by the StepUp participants and their level of enthusiasm for the program. It has been a joy to spend Tuesday evenings with their children while they seek to gain life skills and ultimately, stable careers. Through focused programming and the use of highly skilled staff and eager volunteers, StepUp Ministry is making a real difference in the lives of these participants and our community.”

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Farewell
 

I am not a procrastinator. But, this letter was supposed to be completed a week ago. 

My heart is sad. After three years at StepUp, I am leaving. 

My 1,195 days have been eventful. 

  • We raised $4,661,883 (but who is counting?) 

  • We served 625 children and young adults who learned a lot of important life skills but who were also simply fed a warm meal, given a big ‘ol hug and told that they were loved and special every week for a whole year by StepUp staff.

  • My son started a new daycare and Art Ross put me back together after an emotional drop off.

  • 1,000 people got jobs…and 97% of them were still working six months later. 

  • I had an emergency appendectomy and Facetimed with my StepUp family from the operating room…(Truth)

  • Judy Bright taught us the importance of teamwork, philanthropy, how to clap!!- and so much more…

  • My husband and I had a daughter and Linda Nunnallee brought us dinner on our first night home from the hospital.

My heart aches with gratitude for what I have learned and what I have been given at StepUp Ministry. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this mission.

I cannot wait to be a volunteer. 

Love, 

Mary Allison

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StepUp Ministry
A Heart to Serve
 

The month of September has been filled with unexpected blessings.  StepUp Volunteer and Local registered nurse, Erica Saunders coordinated a toiletry drive to support StepUp families for her birthday.  Erica shared “ …this year I wanted to do something different, so instead of receiving gifts I asked for toiletries and donations so that I could gift others.”

Local business owner, Reggie Winston visited our Life Skills program and donated 10 gift certificates for individuals to receive complimentary services at the Bar Ber Shop located at 4551 New Bern Avenue. Reggie stated that “he loves the program and wanted to be a blessing to StepUp.”  We love our volunteers and donors!  We could not do the job that we do without community support!  Thank you, Erica and Reggie for stepping up in service.

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More than a Job
 

Employment is much more than a job at StepUp. It’s the smile on our participant’s face and the joy of knowing that we are working towards success together. Not too long ago I myself walked through StepUp’s doors seeking employment. But what I found was so much more. I found a community of support and encouragement; additional tools and resources that helped push me further into my destiny.  I not only found a job but am fulfilling my passion. As an Employment Counselor, it brings me joy to help others achieve success. Now that’s worth smiling for!

 

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Nursery Volunteers Needed
 

Volunteer to care for and inspire children from newborn to age four. Activities may include:

  • Playing on the playground

  • Games to learn colors, shapes, and numbers, and

  • Other age-appropriate ways to provide structured time for the children.

The minimum age for this role is 16-years-old if you are volunteering with a parent, or 18-years-old without a parent. 

Volunteers are needed Tuesday nights from 5:45 to 8:30 at White Memorial Presbyterian Church. 

If you are interested, please contact Cynthia Walker, Volunteer Recruiter, at 919-781-0156 ext. 111 or cwalker@stepupministry.org

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