Step by Step and its volunteers share motherly instincts

Krista Linden, founder and executive director of Step by Step (located on the former Van Lierop bulb farm property between Puyallup and Sumner), said their mission is to transform the lives of at-risk pregnant women so they will deliver a healthy baby, embrace positive parenting and establish a safe home.

At-risk women come through referrals, and Step by Step works with 1,200 women at a time, according to Linden.

In order to provide the services these women need, Step by Step relies heavily on volunteers, and Linden said a large number of those volunteers are seniors.

Annmarie Mathews, volunteer coordinator, would agree.

“Seniors make up about 75 percent of our volunteers,” she said. “They have retired and are active and have skills developed over their lifetimes. We really couldn’t do what we do without the senior volunteers.”

The older volunteers are available during regular business hours, and Mathews said their contributions help support the 25 case managers.

Groups of volunteers do everything from quilting, knitting and sewing to working on-site at Step by Step sorting donations or working in the front office.

“We try to find something that fits everyone,” said Mathews, who is passionate about parenting and making and building a strong home.

Volunteer Robbi Heath said when people send donations, or bring in their handmade items, the volunteers prepare the Welcome Home Bags for new moms.

The bags include items like diapers, wipes, a layette and hardcover books. Volunters also stuff the bags with sleep sacs, which are a cozy, healthier and safer alternative to using blankets for babies. The sleep sacs are made by a regular volunteer and are very popular with new moms.

Lori Wilkerson, working in the front office, has been volunteering since June one day a week.

Another volunteer, Nancy Teodoro, said, “I work where needed” as she stood in a well-organized closet preparing hygiene bags for new moms, filling them with shampoo, hand lotion, soaps and other items.

“We support them (moms) in parenting skills, help them get their GED and learn people and personal skills,” said Linden.

The medical needs of clients are looked at carefully.

“If they have a prior pre-term baby or gestational diabetes or other complications in the past, we connect them with one of our nurses. Dietary issues? We connect them with our dietitian and we have counseling services. We set them up with a case manager at no cost to our clients,” said Linden.

Linden has been working toward her goal of helping moms since 1997. As a student-teacher, she met a little girl named Leanne who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome.

“I had never heard of that before, but the irreparable damage done to her brain was immediately evident to me,” Linden said.

This chance meeting was the beginning for Linden. Twenty years later and thanks to a lot of fund-raising, generous donations and hard work, Step by Step is looking at remodeling their site to include many more services for at-risk moms.

Linden is excited and looking forward to Step by Step’s future.

“Dreams are fueled by vision, a vision for a better future. Every day, I see how life could and should be better for children. For the past 20 years, this visualization has propelled me to do what I believe needs to be done,” she said.

Volunteer Lori Wilkerson, working in the front office, volunteers at Step by Step once a week. (Joan Cronk/for Senior Scene)