Volunteer Appreciation

The month of April is Volunteer Appreciation Month! At STEP, we are beyond appreciative for our many dedicated volunteers. We have over 120 volunteers that donate their time for a four hour shift once a week, sometimes more! These volunteer hours add up to be the equivalent of over nine full-time staff.

One of the many things that make my job here at STEP amazing is getting to work with these dedicated volunteers every day, and seeing how much is accomplished for our community through the hours of volunteering that they give. Day in and day out, they work to sort, stock, and give out thousands of pounds of food each week. Our volunteers work every day to ensure the community can make appointments, shop for healthful food options and shop for clothing in a warm, inviting and respectful environment. They do difficult jobs like cleaning, lifting heavy cases and sorting through less than appetizing produce so that STEP can offer our services to the St. Louis Park community.

Volunteering is a crucial part of our community, and may even give you the chance to spend time on something you are passionate about. There are volunteer positions to fit everyone’s schedule and skill set, and a variety of incredible local programs deserving of your time energy. I encourage you to find an opportunity and give volunteering a try, or show your appreciation to a volunteer you know!

Thank You Volunteers!  

You really are the true heart of STEP! 

Read the full article about our volunteers by Allison Bittner, STEP Food Shelf and Volunteer Coordinator in the upcoming St. Louis Park Sun Sailor! 
 

Rising from Poverty

A comprehensive, well-researched series from the Star Tribune is out and explores the challenges escaping poverty and how where you grow up can make a big difference.

At STEP we see families come from all different backgrounds and situations, but many struggles families are confronted with are the same. The Rising from Poverty

three part series can be found here and is well worth the read.

Anderson Companies talks about supporting STEP

This a great article written by Anderson Companies about why they support STEP through donations, volunteering and sponsorship of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train.

Click here to read the article.

STEP rides. Helping people get to where they need to go.

Did you know STEP offers free rides to appointments for your neighbors with limited access to transportation?
I sat down with the transportation coordinator, Claudia Kennedy, to learn more about it.
We talked about the program, the drivers, the riders and the challenges of connecting the two. Claudia explains, “There’s a lot of people here in St. Louis Park who need help getting places. 30% of our clients tell us they have no other means of transport. They rely totally on the STEP ride program.  Some are very elderly or have physical limitations, which make getting to and from bus stops impossible. Others simply can’t afford to take a cab or use Metro Mobility. For them, our volunteer drivers are the only way they can make a medical appointment or come and pick up food here at STEP.”

Claudia wanted to stress, “These rides are given by volunteer drivers in their own personal vehicles. They don’t get paid for doing this, they do it because they want to help. They do it because they enjoy getting to know the clients and form relationships with them. Some of them donate their time almost daily. Others volunteer between busy schedules once every few weeks, when they can. All of them do it for free and the client they are driving pays nothing for the service. It’s absolutely free to the client”.

“It’s quite challenging sometimes,” Claudia continued, “We only have a certain amount of people who are willing to be drivers for us. If a couple of them go on vacation, or someone gets sick or work gets busy for them, all of a sudden we can be in a pretty tight situation. We almost always find a way to make it work. Sometimes clients are able to change the days of an appointment and sometimes drivers make an extra special effort. We rarely have to turn a client in need down. Last month we gave dozens of rides and were only unable to fill one request. I think that’s pretty good considering the scheduling challenges we face. Still, it’d be nice if we had a few more drivers so we would never have to say “no” to anyone…”
I asked Claudia about any memorable situations. Claudia had no trouble recalling one ride in particular that got very serious and had the driver going way above and beyond.
“Our driver learned the client he had just driven to a doctor’s appointment had been taken to hospital with serious health issues. As soon as he heard this he made the decision to go pick up a family member. He drove them to the hospital so they could be there with her, comfort her and advocate on her behalf. There was no question in the driver’s mind. He knew that’s what he needed to do for her.”
STEP drivers all receive a background check and must have a reliable vehicle. They also tend to be incredibly generous people who are very much appreciated! Does this sound like you? We need more drivers!
Heather Alvey, my wife, volunteers as a STEP driver. Like most of us she’s very busy and can only do one ride every few weeks or so. It’s not much, but to the person receiving the ride it means a lot. Can you help too?
If you’d like to help please complete a volunteer interest application at this linkand return to Allison at allison@stepslp.org or 6812 W Lake St, St. Louis Park, MN 55426.
Jason Alvey – STEP board member
The Transportation Program is largely funded by a generous grant from the Park Nicollet Foundation.