We recently celebrated Step By Step’s 16th Christmas party for our moms and their families.
Sixteen years ago, Robyn (a Step By Step case manager) and I stood outside of an old church downtown Tacoma and watched two young girls walk into the dark night with their babies. As they got on the bus, Robyn said to me, with tears streaming down her face, “They are going home to one of the worst crack houses I have ever seen. If Step By Step gets the opportunity to have housing, please take it!”
Ten years later, that opportunity came. We got housing. It has been hard. So hard. Finding funding and working with HUD and all the red tape is exasperating. Some of the issues we have to deal with, serving this vulnerable, high risk population, can be maddening. There have been times when my administrative brain thinks it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let housing go.
But, then we get calls like the one I did just a few days ago – just three days before our Christmas parties. A young girl, expecting a baby, was sleeping outside. Her story is one where her parents failed her, the foster care system failed her, where abuse was rampant. To escape the abuse meant sleeping outside, in the cold, at a bus stop.
This girl is now in a warm apartment. She is safe. I was up late texting one of our amazing Step By Step case managers, who went and picked up this young girl. She was having a hard time processing what she heard that night. “She can’t seem to stop the tears,” she said to me. “This young girl needs someone to believe in her.”
My administrative brain took a big emotional hit once again. My brain wants things to be simpler, cleaner, but my heart knows how messy this life is... for all of us. The “clean” is just a mirage. Our messes all look different, but for so many the first step is just a safe place to be and to know that there is at least one person who believes in us!
This girl came to our Christmas party this year, and she met a lot of people, who warmly welcomed her with open arms, into our ever growing Step By Step family.
We spent the evening celebrating with hundreds of mothers and their families. Each one of them is in a different place on her journey to hope and health. Some are doing great. Some are really struggling.
We spent the evening with a mom who recently had to bury her baby, who she knew would only live a few days. A mom who had a newborn and two severely autistic twin toddlers, who was exhausted. A mom whose brother was recently released from prison, and she is now processing, all over again, the years he molested her as a child. A mom who recently relinquished custody of her child and returned to drugs – she is living under a Seattle bridge. And, the mom of beautiful 9 month old twins, who could not say enough about her Step By Step volunteer mentor. They have such a sweet relationship, and this mom is doing so well and has worked so hard – and, we are so proud of her!
The stories go on and on. Every mom that attended is in a different place. That night, we loved them right where they are. As Robyn says, “our job is to never give up on them. We have to believe in what they are capable of and keep encouraging them to take the steps to get there.”
The Christmas parties were just like the work that we do. They were chaotic and messy and loud and beautiful. But, every mom and baby matters, and every step our moms take brings them one step closer towards health and a brighter future for themselves and for their children.
As we approach a new year in 2016, we know it won’t be easy. But, we will do what we always have. We will be there to encourage and work alongside the moms who need us – one mom, one baby, one healthy step at a time.
Krista Linden, Step By Step Founder & Executive Director
“Making Memories Together”
2015 Family Christmas Celebrations Serve Over 1,200 Guests
Our 16th annual Christmas celebrations served over 1200 guests and nearly 300 families this year! Our moms and their families enjoyed a sit down Christmas dinner, family portraits, santa photos, kids’ activities, free toys and gifts, and lots more! Every family also went home with free groceries and gift cards, everything they need to enjoy a special holiday meal at home together.
These events are a massive undertaking. Over 600 volunteers come together to bring these parties to life. It takes thousands of dollars and donated supplies and truckloads of food to make these events happen.
We’d like to say a special thank you to Lighthouse Christian Center, who hosted this event for their 11th year in a row. We’d also like to thank Northshore Community Church, for hosting our North end event and for once again wowing us with your generous hearts and your amazing ability to somehow feed over 600 people without a kitchen - in two hours!
Thank you to the professional photographers who donated their time to take beautiful family portraits for our clients. Thank you to Sherri’s Cookies, who made 35 dozen cupcakes for free, for our volunteers in Puyallup. Thank you “Santa” for sitting through hundreds of photos with babies, and kids, and expecting moms!
We could fill up this whole newsletter with stories and thanks to all who donated and who gave generously of their time and talents. We love having the opportunity to celebrate and spend time with the moms we serve. Thank you for making Christmas special for these families. We could not do it without you!
Join us for our next event:
Meet our current Volunteer Champions of the month!
October - Shanna and the Puyallup Food Bank
The Puyallup Food Bank has been an invaluable resource to us this year. Not onlyhave we acquired a whole new respect for Shanna, the Executive Director-Master Forklift Driver-Super Woman, who runs the Puyallup Food Bank with some serious pizzaz, but they have helped us out in multiple ways this year. We were given snacks and drinks for our fundraisng 5k, canned goods and food items for our moms, diapers, baby wipes, food items needed for our Christmas parties, and lots more. A few weeks ago, Shanna texted Cherylthat she had something special for her, and she gave us these beautiful chocolate covered fortune cookies for our Volunteer Leaders’ thank you gifts. Shanna, you continue to bless us and our families. Thank you for your support and encouragement!
November - Hydie Fenton
Hydie has become a familiar face around Step By Step. She does a little bit of everything! She helped us organize and prepare for our Christmas parties a few weeks ago, and she volunteered at the South party. She has sorted (and stacked!) thousands of diapers. She has helped prepare our quarterly newsletter, addressed envelopes, inventoried items, sorted baby clothes, and lots more. You name it, she’s probably helped with it! She has a beautiful smile and a beautiful heart. Thank you Hydie for being part of our Step By Step team!
December - Dr. David Crouch’s Orthodontist Office
Dr. David Crouch’s office set up a Giving Tree in their office, starting in November, to bring in gifts for some of our moms and their children. They donated a sleigh-full (aka completely filled two of our staff vehicles) of beautifully wrapped presents, for over 50 of our families! When they arrived at the office, we completely filled the kitchen area with gifts. The staff couldn’t stop gushing about them all day long. As we write this, all those gifts are getting loaded into different case manager’s vehicles, so they can hand deliver them to their client moms. Many of our families really struggle during the holidays, and these gifts are going to bring a lot of Christmas cheer! Thank you so much for your generosity and thoughtfulness!