The Trickle Down Effect
March 13, 2011 | 11:00 am
Posted by Carolyn
It’s a little scary to know that our children are always watching us and often model what we do. As parents, we teach by example – that means no yelling at the TV when the Red Sox are losing or Tom Brady throws an interception. It means always wearing a seat belt and not talking on the phone while driving. It means not eating cookies for breakfast and eating the same healthy snack I am offering my kids when what I really want to snack on are M&M’s. They are watching our big choices and our little ones – Sometimes we wince at what they have picked up from us but other times we nearly burst with pride.
Five years ago when we started A Step Up, my kids were just 5 and 6 years old. They snacked on the leftover cookies after the event and made an appearance in their pajamas before their 7 pm bedtime. As they got a bit older, they sat on the stairs and listened to the speaker and eventually, my now, 10 year old daughter, joined the guests in the family room. She listened as our speakers taught us about the foster care system, homeless youth and empowering children. After the event, Emily asked me lots of questions and suggested she could help too. She joined the community service club at her school and supported Birthday in a Box and put on a talent show at a local nursing home. She talked about joining A Step Up or starting her own A Step Up. I put her off –telling her she was too young and feeling great that she wanted to do something for others. That was enough for me but not for her.
In January of this year, Emily asked me if she could do her OWN community service project. She asked me if she could call Judy Cockerton (founder of the Treehouse communities) and see if she needed help with a project. I suggested she go on Judy’s website (treehousecommunties.org) and see if there was a specific project she wanted to support. Emily had been at A Step Up’s event for The Treehouse Foundation and learned about The Suitcase Project. She heard from Judy that kids being taken from a troubled homes often have no suitcase to carry their belongings. Instead they pack what they have in a trash bag. The Suitcase project provides kids in foster care with a new suitcase filled with items they might need or enjoy having when they have to move. Emily thought it would be a great idea to collect items that could be used to fill the suitcases for the kids.
Emily wrote an email to our family and friends and that included a description of the Suitcase Project and a list of items kids in foster care might need. She put a box on our front porch so that donations could be dropped off anytime. The donations poured in for the Suitcase Project. Emily’s community Service project was so simple and the results were incredible. Everyday for a month she received donations. Emily filled 2 huge boxes with critical supplies for kids in foster care. Judy and her family came over on a Sunday afternoon to pick up the boxes and deliver them to DCFS in Holyoke. We took photographs and celebrated Emily’s accomplishment. Judy wrote a special thank you to Emily in her blog at treehousecommunities.org. There was even an article in the Boston Herald about Emily’s accomplishment. As much as Emily loved reading about herself, I don’t think she understood how such a simple project brought her so much attention. As I think about it, maybe that’s the message; if we spread the word about how simple it is to make a difference, I’m sure more people will follow Emily’s lead.
While, I realize that Emily may occasionally swear at the Red Sox games on television and she has to have a little bit of chocolate every day just like me, I don’t beat myself up too much because I also know that she has learned how important it is – and how good it feels – to help others. Judy walked out our door carrying boxes of supplies and wasn’t yet at her car when Emily said “Mom, I have an idea for my next project…”
December 15, 2010 | 4:14 pm
Posted by Carolyn
Stacey and I had a wonderful opportunity this fall to have our eyes opened to many innovative, nonprofit groups addressing the most challenging social issues in Greater Boston. We were lucky to be asked to join close to 60 evaluators for the 2011 Social Innovation Forum selection process. The Social Innovation Forum is an initiative of Root Cause an organization that fosters innovation and collaboration to address social problems. It was an amazing experience for both of us.
I was invited to write a guest blog about my impressions of the process and it’s posting this week. If you are interested in reading the post and learning more about the Social Innovation Forum, head over to the Root Cause blog. While you’re there, look over the website. The work at Root Cause and the Social Innovation Forum is compelling and you just might find an organization that you want to get involved with.0 Comment
Hats Off To A Step Up Winchester
December 13, 2010 | 8:20 pm
A Step Up Winchester (firstname.lastname@example.org) founded in 2010, recently hosted their second event. They raised $4000.00 for Kim’s Project, an organization that offers services to women impacted by the sex trade and who are devoted to rescuing these women in the Boston area. We were thrilled to see that The Winchester Star is spreading the word about the great work of A Step Up Winchester!
by Vanessa Gobes, The Winchester Star0 Comment
Find Great Holiday Gifts at More Than Words
December 2, 2010 | 2:22 pm
Posted by Carolyn
We hope to see everyone on Wednesday December 8th at More Than Words!0 Comment
The Thanksgiving Pie Problem
November 15, 2010 | 7:35 pm
Posted by Carolyn
I come from a family where Thanksgiving is a big deal. It’s the one holiday that we all get together – It’s not that we have 60 people, it’s just that my sisters and I aren’t really allowed to go anywhere but my parents house for Thanksgiving- four daughters, husbands, boyfriends, our kids and 3 dogs. No one in my family spends Thanksgiving with their in-laws. It’s always a great day with lots of food but I have to confess, the pies fall flat. I don’t know why. It feels important to have pies on Thanksgiving but as we divide up the cooking responsibilities, we always sort of forget about dessert and then end up with a grocery store pie and other mediocre desserts…I think this year we finally have solved the Thanksgiving Pie Problem with the Pie in the Sky 2010 fundraiser:
This Thanksgiving (and apparently the last 17 Thanksgivings- where was I?), you can buy a delicious apple, pecan, pumpkin or sweet potato pie for $25 and pick it up on Wednesday, November 24th at over 45 locations throughout Greater Boston. Here’s the best part…for $25, the cost of a single pie, Community Servings will be able to provide a week’s worth of free, home‐delivered meals to a man, woman or child who is battling a critical illness such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes or MS. Pie in the Sky involves more than 150 of Greater Boston’s best chefs, bakers and caterers donating their time, talent and resources to provide our pie buyers with delicious Thanksgiving Pies. Equally amazing, over 500 volunteer pie sellers work hard throughout the fall to sell, organize and distribute more than 13,000 pies.
WHEN: Pie sales are taking place now through Saturday November 20, 2010.
HOW: To order a pie or make a donation, call Carolyn McKibben, Pie seller #2856 at (781) 444‐5464
Congratulations Chestnut Hill School!
November 15, 2010 | 4:57 pm
Posted by Carolyn
A Step Up was thrilled to learn that the Chestnut Hill School (CHS) held their 2nd annual Read-a-Thon to support School on Wheels after CHS parents learned about School on Wheels at an event hosted by A Step Up. The mission of School on Wheels is to educate children impacted by homelessness by providing academic support and one-on-one mentoring so children can reach their full potential. The Read-a-thon at the Chestnut Hill School raised $1400.00 that will provide new books, backpacks and school supplies for children impacted by homelessness. A Step Up is tremendously proud of the students and families at The Chestnut Hill School for their support of children impacted by homelessness and it goes without saying that we are huge fans of School on Wheels. If you would like support School on Wheels or learn how to have a read-a-thon at your local school, go to sowma.org or find School on Wheels on astepupma.org.0 Comment
Strong Women Strong Girls
October 1, 2010 | 2:16 pm
We are looking forward to our upcoming event for Strong Women Strong Girls on October 13th! Check out this media piece featuring this innovative organization. Watch the video at http://bit.ly/swsgwsvn and then come to our event to learn much more about the work Strong Women Strong Girls is doing in the Boston area. See you there!0 Comment
So much more than a food pantry…
September 27, 2010 | 7:14 pm
Last week we spent the morning at the Boston Medical Center (BMC) and were completely awed by the extensive support given to the extremely diverse patient population at the hospital. The “tagline” at BMC is “exceptional care without exception” and it was an apt description for what we saw on our tour.
We went to the hospital to specifically learn about BMC’s Nutrition Resource Center more commonly known as the food pantry. At the food pantry we spoke with Latchman Hiralall, Registered Dietetic Technician, and the food pantry manager. He told us that the mission of the food pantry is give out healthy food to people who couldn’t otherwise obtain food to promote their health. Sounds simple right? In fact, what they are doing is unique, comprehensive and filled with much common sense.
We learned that in order to use the in-hospital food pantry you need a referral from your doctor and that your selections from the food pantry are based around your medical needs; diabetes, heart conditions, obesity etc. Families are encouraged to select foods from the food pantry that are not only healthy but also food that their family members prefer. The assistance doesn’t stop there. The food pantry even has a fully equipped demonstration kitchen, where nutritionists can show patients and their families healthy ways to prepare the food they are “prescribed”.
In the demonstration kitchen we spent some time with Deidra Dexter-Hine, the Clinical Nutrition Manager. Deidre is a chef nutritionist who explained the Nutrition Resource Center is the ONLY in-hospital food pantry in the entire country. Other hospitals around the country are now trying to replicate the model developed at BMC. Deidra teaches families how to prepare foods that are good for them based on their specific dietary needs. She teaches food safety and encourages patients to be hands-on participants in her classes.
The food pantry is supported by private donors and the Greater Boston Food Bank. We were shocked to learn the food pantry is providing food to 7000 visitors per month. There are of course, opportunities to get involved. You can help hungry children and families by starting a food drive at your office, school, church, temple or community group. The food pantry is always in need of donations. The BMC website provides suggestions to make your food drive a success. You can make a financial donation to the food pantry at bmc.org/about/giving.htm. There are also opportunities to volunteer at the food pantry or other departments at the hospital. For more information go to bmc.org/about/volunteer.htm
We left Boston Medical Center feeling like we had really learned something special. Our visit to the Nutrition Resource Center is only a slice of what we saw on our tour. The same level of comprehensive care and commitment to treating the many needs of the patients was mirrored in the many other departments that we visited. We would love to help them get the word out!0 Comment
August 31, 2010 | 5:20 pm
Posted by Carolyn
Thank you for visiting our website and welcome to our first blog post!
As many of you know, we launched A Step Up in 2006. It has been a work in progress and a learn as we go process for all of us. None of us would be considered “techies” by any stretch of the imagination but today we launch our new and improved website.
We want to start out by giving credit to our amazing website designers. They are students at the Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts (BUCDIA). We were selected to work with them as they completed the design portion of their program at CDIA. Diana Kmiotek, RaShaun Smith and Martina Marek are the three talented individuals who spent 4 weeks with us and then together conceptualized and implemented our new website. They will be starting out in new careers after the completion of the program so we want to give them a shout out – They were incredible and we couldn’t have done it without them.
We hope that you will bookmark our site and keep an eye on our blog. We will have lots of things to share as we are planning events and learning about organizations in our community. We want to be able to “talk ” to you as we go through the process. Of course now that we are blogging, we are also on facebook and twitter. We don’t really understand twitter yet – so don’t hold your breath for our tweets – but please become a fan of A Step Up on Facebook.
We would love to hear you thoughts on our new look. You will be hearing from us again soon about our upcoming event scheduled for October 13th!0 Comment
August 18, 2010 | 11:56 am
Check out our new website!0 Comment