Nonprofit Spotlight: Step By Step
“Treasure the past; invest in the future” is printed on the front of Step By Step’s most recent newsletter publication. This phrase perfectly represents the sentiment behind the organization’s newest project at the Van Lierop Bulb Farm. Since 1934, the bulb farm has been a treasured touch-point for the community and surrounding region. It's a place that holds both rich history and cherished memories for many generations of families. Krista Linden, founder of Step By Step, has an entrepreneurial vision for her organization’s presence at the bulb farm that will propel it to exciting new places while maintaining the 80-year legacy that is still present at the farm.
Step By Step, a Puyallup-based nonprofit, has a dedicated mission: “To transform the lives of at-risk pregnant women so they will deliver a healthy baby, embrace positive parenting, and establish a safe home.” Approaching their 20-year anniversary in 2017, Step by Step has grown from serving around 100 clients, to now regularly serving 1,500 clients.
With a staff of Registered Nurses, Licensed Counselors, and Dieticians, along with numerous devoted volunteers, most of Step By Step’s work takes place in the form of personalized in-home visits with mothers and their babies. Step By Step also offers resources such as mentoring, parenting classes, and transitional housing connections. Thousands of success stories have come from this devoted work, and stories of transformation continue to emerge. But, Krista Linden’s vision for the future is much bigger than the work that Step by Step is currently doing.Krista has a dream to transform the Van Lierop Bulb Farm into a multi-faceted, income-generating property that will move the organization towards self-sustainment and empower mothers, driving them towards self-sufficiency and professionalism, and offering them the opportunity to fully support their children. Step by Step at the Germaine Korum Center for Women and Children (named for one of its benefactors) will feature large event spaces, a restaurant and a coffee shop that will provide unique on-the-job training opportunities for women who are looking to build their customer service skills and gain work experience in order to seek full-time employment. Krista sees the need for quality training, and explained that the program will be 18 months long. This will give sufficient time to cover all of the foundational skills necessary for a successful transition into the working world.
Krista explains that she remained “under the radar” with Step by Step for about 15 years. While she was playing a key role in the organization’s development, she was also raising her seven daughters with her husband, Jon. Since acquiring the Van Lierop Bulb Farm, Krista has transitioned into more of a full-time role. Her creative, entrepreneurial spirit has helped turn the dream of the Step by Step at the Germaine Korum Center for Women and Children project into a reality. “We want people to feel pride when they come here,” Krista explains. “There is something special about being located at a farm. Farms represent valuable American qualities like hard work, tenacity, and perseverance. These are the same qualities we want the women who train and work here to emulate.” Krista exemplifies these qualities herself, as she and her team of employees and volunteers continue to work tirelessly on fundraising, planning, and executing the vision for the future at the farm. As Krista says, one of the most meaningful aspects of the project’s development has been seeing the key players—Mr. Van Lierop, the community, churches, schools, students, volunteers, large donors, and the City of Puyallup—all come together to make this dream happen for women and children in our community.