Happy Birthday Stepping Stones! Summer 2010 Newsletter Our Mission: Providing transitional housing and supportive services to youth aged 16-20 that are experiencing homelessness.
WHAT’S INSIDE . . . PAGE 2‐4 STEPPING STONES TURNS FIVE!
We are celebrating Stepping Stones’ five year anniversary with a special birthday edition of our newsletter! Read about how it all began, a recap of our program development, plans for the future, and a note from our Executive Director. In addition, learn about who makes it all happen with our profiles of Volunteers and Board Members.
PAGE 5 WHO IT’S ALL FOR…
See beyond the numbers and learn about some of our residents and their stories. After all, they are why we do what we do!
Four of our current residents graduated this May! Read more about our residents on Page 5.
PAGE 6‐8 QUARTERLY REPORT
Read about our most recent annual event: Icing on the Cake! Did you know that July is GLBT Awareness Month? Keep reading for upcoming events, and how you can get involved.
Stepping Stones hosted its 3rd Annual Icing on the Cake ceremony in May! Read about it on Page 2 .
Page 1 We want to do our part for the environment by reducing paper use. If you would like to receive your newsletters electronically please send an email message to wwade@steppingstones‐inc.org. Thanks!
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Summer 2010 Newsletter
“I want to be graduated, working full time, learning all that I can and helping the people that come to Stepping Stones, to help the program the same way it’s helped me.” ‐ Resident
Stepping Stones’ journey began over five years 2004‐2005 ago when as a foster parent, founder and
Other key players our first year
Executive Director Sheri Benham became well‐acquainted with the hardships that befall disadvantaged teens. As a returning student in the master’s program of social work, she was shocked to find out that disproportionate percentage of former foster youth become homeless as adults. Dedicated to creating an opportunity for youth in need of housing and the tools to become self‐sufficient, Sheri wrote a business plan for Stepping Stones for one of her classes.
Board members Dave Torneo, Marcia Doran, McKenzie May, Cindy Skoog, Steve Englert, Shelia Evans
Implementation Committees Angie Cannon, Marsha McCarty, Mary Madore, Vicki Sorensen, Michelle Fields, Martha Nord, Ann Seagraves, Dave Torneo
Did you know . . .s l aunched a pilot program that consisted ofst
Stone home. Our fir In 2004, Stepping xt door to Sheri’s ne ed at loc s wa funding from an apartment that ‐old daughter. With th on ‐m six a th wi d volunteers, we resident was 19 edicated board an r d ou d an d un t F an apartment with the Housing Trus the teen mom into e ov m to ble y a were eventuall the other residents.
During this process, she started making contact with local key players. Some of these community members included Toby Strout from Middle Way House; Stephanie LaFontaine of Centerstone; and Ron Thompson formerly of Youth Services Bureau. Over the summer of 2004, a group of concerned and dedicated representatives from a variety of organizations started meeting regularly to work out all of the program details. A Housing and Urban Development grant, awarded in August 2005, allowed us to implement the housing program with three apartments for six residents and one apartment that served as our community center, office, and resident assistant’s residence. Over the first year, we provided housing for 10 residents. The next step was to expand 2006 the supportive services aspect of the program. In 2006, with a grant from Community Foundation, Stepping Stones launched the Apprentice Program which was designed to help our residents gain a skill they felt would be valuable to their future, such as driver’s education. A grant from CARES enabled us to start Alternatives & Awareness, our substance prevention program, and with a grant from Jack Former resident Jolees Hopkins Social Services, our weekly Brown was Keynote Speaker tutoring program began. We provided for the 2010 Icing on the housing for 15 residents this year. Cake ceremony. She is now a student at IU.
Greg Marchant, Judge Steve Galvin, Nancy Hughes
was the year to build capacity and with a grant from
2007 Indiana Youth Institute, we brought in a consultant to help build the board and start planning more strategically. We partnered with AmeriCorps and brought in an administrative coordinator and a health coach. The health coach fine‐tuned our health and wellness program with more focus on nutrition and exercise. We provided housing for 13 residents in 2007. was our year of staff development. We promoted Warren 2008 Wade to the position of Assistant Director with funds from Community Foundation and we also spent time expanding our board and volunteers. With a grant from the Pacer’s Foundation, we launched BeActive!, a program geared to promote exercise in a fun way. We provided housing for 14 residents this year. Stepping Stones was able to hire a second RA and move 2009 them into a separate apartment thanks to another Jack Hopkins Social Services grant. Moving the resident assistant out of the Community Center allowed us to convert the space into a resident computer lab and make the community center even more accessible to residents. We also started another pilot program: adding a third bed to house three guys. Our third male resident moved in last November. We provided housing for 13 residents this year. With all of the growth that Stepping Stones has seen in these past 5 years, it is not possible to list all of the funders and key players who have been essential for our success. This brief time line gives just a small inkling of what has transpired over the last five years. The help and support that you have shown us, has made us who we are today.
From all of us at Stepping Stones THANK YOU for all that you have done!
Happy Birthday Stepping Stones! 3
Summer 2010 Newsletter
OUR FUTURE “It really is hard, no matter the circumstances of why you’re there to cope with everything but Stepping Stones and its diverse staff are a good group of supporters – almost like a family, and they’re going to push you hard but only because they want us all to succeed.” — Resident
What to expect from Stepping Stones . . . Serve More Youth: Stepping Stones continues to try to reach more at‐risk youth in our community. In order to do this, Stepping Stones is doing a supportive outreach program with area schools. Another example is our Be Active! Program. Read about one of our recent Be Active! activities from our AmeriCorps member on Page 5!
Reduce Homelessness Among Youth: By increasing supportive and preventative services, reaching more at‐risk youth, expanding our transitional housing program and increasing awareness, Stepping Stones strives to reduce youth homelessness for years to come! Just this year, the Monroe County Community School Corporation conducted a survey in which 12 high school students classified themselves as homeless. None of our residents identified themselves this way because they have a home with us!
Looking ahead…. Some of the initiatives we’re looking at in the future include: •Purchasing a small apartment building. A building with 12‐15 units could house our residents and have units available for other renters. This would allow us to expand our housing program as needed while bringing in additional rental income. It also keeps our residents integrated in the community by having them live in a communal setting with others, rather than being neighbors with only other Stepping Stones residents. This approach helps them develop more natural social supports that we all need. We would be selective in choosing our renters to ensure that they would help us maintain a supportive and safe environment for our residents. •Partnering
with local businesses to employ our residents and other disadvantaged youth in our
community. Our goal is to help youth find meaningful employment in which they can develop their skills. We would work with the employer on screening, job coaching, on‐going support, and performance reviews. We are seeking grants to help us pay for some of their initial wages as an incentive to employers. •Starting a social enterprise that would provide employment to local youth with funds funneled back into
Stepping Stones. We have started discussing what kind of business would be applicable to providing jobs to youth as well as being a viable business in Bloomington. Other organizations who have done this successfully are Middle Way’s Food Works, Habitat’s Restore, and Salvation Army’s Thrift Store. If you would like to be involved in helping develop any of these initiatives or helping in any other way please contact me. Sheri Benham, Founder & Executive Director
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Summer 2010 Newsletter
STEPPING STONES SPOTLIGHT Volunteers
The first time Brandon came to the Community Center, he was nervous about how he would be able to interact with the residents. His nerves were calmed, however, when the residents immediately opened up to him and made him feel comfortable. He describes his experience as a volunteer as “a blessing.” Brandon first became involved with Stepping Stones by speaking periodically for the kids and the community on topics of drug recovery. In October of 2009, he began volunteering at Stepping Stones’ Community Center as a mentor. As Brandon put it, his experience has verified his own conviction that if you let kids know that they are worthy of your time, they will believe in their own self‐worth. As a mentor he does everything from helping write hip‐hop lyrics, to going to movies, to just talking to the residents about what is going on in their lives. Or, according to Brandon, he just “hangs out”. As someone who went through experiences similar to those of the residents’, Brandon is passionate about assisting youth and has been an invaluable addition to Stepping Stones. Thanks Brandon!
Dave Toreno has long been dedicated to the mission of Stepping Stones. He has been involved with our organization since the very beginning back in 2004, and has since been a key member of the Stepping Stones Board. Dave was one of the founding board members of Stepping Stones and one of the reasons why this organization exists today. He was the board president for two straight years. Additionally Dave has been an immeasurable part of the fundraising and program committees throughout the years, and has organized special events at his home and coordinated musical events at the Bluebird. In addition to being on the board, Dave has also been personally dedicated to the youth that this organization serves. He helped to transport babies to day care, helped residents pack when they are transitioning out of our program, and has also counseled residents and youth of our programs. Thank you Dave for being one of the most faithful and dedicated advocates for Stepping Stones! Your hard work and dedication to our organization and the youth that we serve has made you and irreplaceable asset of Stepping Stones.
“If you let kids know that they are worthy of your time, they will believe in their own self‐worth”
—Brandon Drake, Stepping Stones Volunteer
Yaniv has been a volunteer at Stepping Stones since 2009 and has quickly become one of the most adored volunteers. He became involved with Stepping Stones because he had friends involved with the organization, and because of that did not have any apprehensions about starting or being around the youth. He began his volunteer experience as a biology and math tutor for the residents. By being a tutor, he found that the most challenging part is when the kids get frustrated with the homework or when the residents simply do not want to do it. It can sometimes be tough to diffuse the situation. In addition to tutoring the youth, he simply enjoys hanging around and talking to the residents. Yaniv enjoys the community‐building aspect within the organization with the residents, residents assistance, staff, and volunteers. He believes that one of the biggest rewards from his volunteer experience is purely by “being there and feeling like I can help in some way, and be some sort of model for the youth here.”
Happy Birthday Stepping Stones! 5
RESIDENTS RECENT RESIDENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
One of our residents bought a car with money earned from our Savings Investment Program!
Summer 2010 Newsletter
BE ACTIVE! ACTIVITY HIGHLIGHT: PAINTBALL
“So what do our Stepping Stones residents love more than quiet after‐ One of our residents received a Personal Achievement noons at home edify‐ award from the Monroe County public school system. He ing each other with was honored for maintaining a 3.2 GPA with plans to kind words and ac‐ attend college while overcoming barriers such as tions? Apparently, homelessness and teen parenting. playing target practice with paintball guns and fellow roommates and residents darting across semi‐sheltered One of our residents has recording a CD! fields! This is what we learned when we took six of our 5 residents are pursuing higher education this fall! residents to Cliff Edge Paintball a few weeks ago. The 1 at Ball State, 4 at Ivy Tech guys and girls alike had great time exercising their stealth moves and sniper skills and I had a great time playing field photographer, usually far enough way to avoid any real danger, but still close enough to have to wear a facemask. to our recent A few residents were even “lucky” enough to walk away with some pretty sweet war wounds; nothing like a giant graduates! hickey shaped paintball bruise to the neck!” This May, four of our current residents ‐ Emily Cowan, AmeriCorps Health Coordinator graduated high school!
Residents participated in Homeward Bound: they held a carwash that raised $250 to fight hunger and homelessness, and then walked the 5K as a team!
Money management is something that many people struggle with even without a background of family hardship. Recognizing that it is an essential skill to becoming self‐ sufficient and independent, Stepping Stones encourages residents to spend wisely and plan long‐term. Through our Investment Programs, we encourage residents to save money, while also rewarding them for meeting personal goals and program milestones. Residents are rewarded for achievements that they make in our transitional housing program. Our Milestone Award Program awards residents $100 in their Stepping Stones investment account for reaching the any of the following; moving up a level in the program, holding a job for six months, completing a year in the program and graduating from school. Once a resident has reached a certain point in our housing program, they are eligible for the Saving Investment Program. To deposit money into this account, all other outstanding expenses must be paid. As part of this program, when residents deposit money into their Stepping Stones Investment Account we match it by half for up to $500 per year, per resident. Our residents are able to use these funds for approved purchases such as textbooks, computers, moving‐out expenses and even a car! We highly value these programs that strive to strengthen our residents’ independence by encouraging them to meet goals while also becoming financially stable. Our current residents have earned a total of $2,000 dollars in Milestone Awards alone. Please consider helping us maintain this program by becoming an angel donor for our Investment Program. Your donation will be used directly to reward growth, maturity, and stability in the lives of our youth.
INCENTIVES TO SAVE!
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Summer 2010 Newsletter
EVENT HIGHLIGHT: 3RD ANNUAL ICING ON THE CAKE CEREMONY Stepping Stones holds this annual event to honor teachers, therapists, administrators, case workers, volunteers, and others who have shown a commitment to bettering the lives of youth in our community. Each year, Stepping Stones chooses people in the community who have impacted the lives of at‐risk youth, our program participants, or our organization. Each year the board and staff chooses two particularly outstanding youth champions to receive the “Stepping Up Award.” Additionally, residents of Stepping Stones nominate teachers and mentors who have had a substantial impact on their lives, and presented them personally with an award.
OU! For making this event possible
Ivy Tech Upland Bre wing Comp any Bloomingfo ods Bruster’s R eal Ice Cre am
Congratulations to all of the 2010 award recipients!
2010 ICING ON THE CAKE
2010 STEPPING UP AWARD RECIPIENTS Marti Myers Teen Learning Center Marti Myers was recognized for her dedication to youth with unique and special needs for almost 30 years. Marti has reached and impacted the lives of hundreds (or thousands, by some co‐workers’ estimates) of at‐risk youth in the Bloomington and Monroe County area, including many youth that have been in our program. According to her co‐workers she can take “impossible situations and turn them into positive events.”
2010 Stepping Award Honorees received cake plates decorated by residents of Stepping Stones
From left: Board President Dustin Plummer, Stepping Up Award recipients Mark Voland and Marti Myers, and Executive Director Sheri Benham
Mark Voland Big Brothers Big Sisters For Stepping Stones and for many of his peers, Mark is thought of as a quiet, unsung hero for youth; however, this quiet nature cannot quell his deep, robust passion to advocate on behalf of youth. As part of his championing efforts, Mark not only pairs young people with nurturing Bigs but he himself serves as a mentor, confidante, and life lesson instructor. For over 30 years, he has dedicated himself to youth.
Angela Berzins, Brian Bowman, Shannon Chapman, Laura Ingram, Carol Hall, Thomas Holicky, Caroline Houppert, Tajharjha Gibson, Marsha McCarty, Jan Nichols, Chuck Holloway, Steve Philbeck, Tommy Richardson, Neil Russell, Mike Shipman, Gerald Tolliver, Elizabeth Wampler, Loren Wood, Lisa Batchos, Sean Bird, Shannon Bopp, Yaniv Brandvian, Natalie Cabanaw, Colin Connor, Christina Comerford, Ben Cowan, Kyle Dietrick, Brandon Drake, Suzzy Mangas, Angela Neal, Lindsay Pasternack, Cami Pritchett, Eric Rensberger, Lisa Roberts, Nancy Rutkowski, Christi Ryan, Kristina Schiber, Terrance Thomas, Sarah Tosick, John Tweedie, Anna Victorine, and Charla Walters.
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Summer 2010 Newsletter
SPECIAL THANKS We would like to send a huge THANK YOU to KIP MAY who took senior portraits of our residents! Mr. May donated his time and resources to take beautiful pictures of our high school seniors. We depend on the kindness and generosity of community members to provide such services and it is greatly appreciated! Thank you!
JUNE IS GLBT AWARENESS MONTH Did you know…
• One‐fifth of homeless youth identify as GLBT. • Causes of homelessness in GLBT youth include
rejection from their home due to their sexual orientation, family conflicts, abuse, and mental health. • On average, GLBT homeless youth experience 7.4 more acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth. • GLBT homeless youth reported more incidents of being asked to exchange sex for food, money, drugs, and clothing than heterosexual homeless youth. Source: (1) Lambda Legal, National Alliance to End Homelessness National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Network for Youth: “Recommended Best Practices for Serving LGBT Homeless Youth”. April 2009 (2) National Alliance to End Homelessness: “Explainer: A National Approach to Meeting the Needs of LGBTQ Homeless Youth”, April 2009
PLEASE PRINT YOUR INFORMATION LIKE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT ON OUR DONOR REPORTS:
COMPANY (IF CORPORATE PARTNERSHIP DONATION) ADDRESS:
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IN HONOR OF: ___________________________________________________________________________________________
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Stepping Stones deeply values the contributions that our donors make to sustain our mission. To protect your privacy, your personal donor information will not be traded or sold with other organizations. Stepping Stones Inc, is a 501(C)3, tax exempt corporation. Your contributions are tax deductible as allowed by current law. Our Tax ID# is 06‐1730901. Please return to Stepping Stones P.O. Box 1366 Bloomington, IN 47402
Stepping Stones P.O Box 1366 Bloomington, IN 47402
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HOW YOU CAN HELP
• ANNUAL FUNDRAISING EVENT JUNE 30TH IN THE BANQUET HALL BEHIND UPLAND BREWING COMPANY FROM 6:30‐8:30PM
You are invited to join Stepping Stones in Upland Brewing Company’s Banquet Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Wednesday June 30th for our Annual Fundraising Event. Come out and here about Stepping Stones, our mission and our kids; plus, enjoy free food, brewery tours and good company. There is no charge to attend this event; however, it is a fundraiser so we will be asking all attendees for donations. All drink sales benefit Stepping Stones! Please, RSVP to Warren Wade at wwade@steppingstones‐inc.org.
• Night at Nick’s AUGUST 19TH AT NICK’S ENGLISH HUT FROM 5:00‐8:00PM
a m o n e t a r y donation: Fill out a donation slip or visit our website to make a contribution through PayPal
• Make an in‐kind donation. Visit our website at steppingstones‐inc.org to see WISH LIST.
• Volunteer Opportunity: If
Wondering where you’re going to eat on a Thursday night in August? Come out to Nick’s! 20% of food sales in the backroom plus Natalie’s tips will be donated to Stepping Stones!
• Open House SEPTEMBER 15TH AT THE STEPPING STONES COMMUNITY CENTER FROM 5:00‐7:00PM
you are interested in becoming a mentor, a tutor, or even a host of a party or dinner for our residents please contact us!
We are inviting the whole community to come out to our Community Center in September to celebrate our 5 year anniversary! The evening will have food, activities, a silent auction, information and more! We’d love to have you join us! Come here more about what we’ve done, what we’re doing and what we hope to do in the future.
For other opportunities to get involved, visit our website!
CONTACT US P.O. Box 1366 Email : info@steppingstones‐inc.org Bloomington, IN 47402 web : www.steppingstones‐inc.org Phone: (812) 339‐9771 Fax: (812) 339‐2991
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Published on Aug 25, 2012