StepUp Ministry, as the name implies, believes in working side by side and only giving a hand up when needed, not a hand down. Like in the game of basketball, when your teammate falls on the ground and you go over and offer your arm so they can pull themselves up, StepUp is your teammate in life. From résumé building and interviewing, to finding and landing a job that provides a livable wage, to securing stable housing and transportation, StepUp helps people and families in great need.
I first met Beka Dominguez, Employment Manager with StepUp Ministry, about a year ago when she came to Teaming for Technology to talk about StepUp’s job and life skills programs. Beka is very inspiring and passionate about her organization, and it dawned on me how awesome it is to know United Way supports their programs. It made us proud to realize that over 150 Teaming for Technology laptops have gone to people in their Career Transition Support Group.
Fast forward a few weeks to the end of 2013, I received an email from some friends asking if I had any ideas for our local collaborative Oaks & Spokes, and, if so, could I come to the meeting at Jim Hunt Library. O&S is a bicycle event planning collaborative in Raleigh where we host and coordinate all sorts of events that promote cycling as a viable form of transportation. Now, two things I really love in life are helping others and bikes. It seemed natural to suggest an idea to acquire a handful of donated bicycles and find a nonprofit that can place them with people who simply need them to increase their mobility.
We pitched the idea to Beka, and she was stoked and invited us to their Wednesday night dinner for the members of their job skills program. We attended the dinner and pitched the idea to the crowd. We joked with participants and asked who wanted a car, and then we told them we could provide a bicycle. Beka took the names of people who could use one to get to and from home, work, and the bus. This armed us with enthusiasm knowing we found good people who could truly benefit.
Next, we set out to find a dozen bicycles of the proper size and local bike mechanics who could lend a hand to make sure they were safe and functioning. The good folks at NCSU provided us with a facility and tools. Local mechanics from several bike shops and volunteers came to clean and refurbish them on a beautiful April evening. The following night, at Cobblestone Hall, we awarded the bikes to members of the Job Skills program. There was a small ceremony in which everyone was fitted properly and set up with a light and lock. It was such a joy to see the elation on the faces of the men and women when they rode off on their bikes.
It took a couple of days’ worth of volunteering with friends who helped pick up bikes, coordinate meetings, and helped mechanics to make it happen. I feel so lucky to be able to support the work of StepUp Ministry and really shine a spotlight on the good work they do.