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Our early history...  

Blog entries from the first days of the Next Step

A vision grown - April, 2004

After hosting a lunch for the families of WorkFirst Customized Job Skills Program graduates, the Monroe Covenant Church began to see that many of the graduates were bravely committed to changing their lives and lives of their children. But, often there were holes between state resources. These families sometimes needed encouragement and little things to help them continue in a positive direction. Help line telephone numbers were no longer in service, housing assistance agencies were full and had waiting lists...even little things like not having enough gas to drive to a job interview all prevented people from moving forward in their lives. Sometimes a bottle of shampoo kept them from looking their best. A small group of committed people came together to brainstorm and pray...An empty parsonage, a supportive church, a dedicated group of volunteers...and a name...and The Next Step began to take shape...

The Journey Begins - November, 2004

Volunteers are working to turn a building used for storage into a Community Drop-In Center. Loads have been taken to the dump. Many surfaces are freshly scrubbed and painted. Closets sport new shelving. The plumbing repairs have been made. Some furniture was cleaned and moved within the building; other furniture was donated. An emergency pantry has begun to take shape. A 10 station computer lab is growing upstairs.

Forms and procedures are being debated and developed. Many volunteers are researching the viable resources within Snohomish County. Donations are coming in. A board of directors is forming. A grant to cover a part time employee is being written. Excitement is growing as plans are being made to open our doors in January.

Our First Client - March, 2005

After handing out flyers and helping food bank clients carry their groceries, our first client came through the door.

Diana was a woman, recently widowed, in need of a little assistance with her rent in order to not be evicted. She had a cup of coffee and a few cookies, was able to relax, and told her story to a volunteer and our Drop-In Center Manager, Annie Bol. They were able to share other appropriate resources with Diana. Before leaving, Diana shared how she was encouraged by her visit at Take the Next Step.

Our First Program Director - June, 2005

We are delighted to now have Elizabeth Kohl, our new program director, fully on board. She has completed her commitment for teaching pre-school, and she’s working at The Next Step on Wednesdays and Fridays when we are open. Additionally, she will put in some hours during some of the hours we are closed. We are very grateful for Elizabeth’s office skills, technical skills, her faith, and most of all, her heart for serving our neighbors in need.

We are very thankful for Annie Bol who stepped in, served in our office, and allowed us to open our doors. Annie was the perfect person who came into our midst at the right time. Thank you, Annie! We wish you the best as you pursue your education! As we have begun the process for The Next Step to become a non-profit, we found the name is already taken. Therefore, our board of directors has selected the name, Take the Next Step, as the official name of our organization. We are grateful to Joe Smith for suggesting the name for our non-profit as we encourage and assist our neighbors in taking the next steps in their lives.

Miracles at the Next Step - September, 2005

What do miracles look like? They come in many, many different forms: the opening of a fragrant flower, a birth, a changed heart or attitude, a snow flake, a healed life, a chain of unlikely events… Miracles continue to happen around the world. We are eager to share some of the miracles that happened atTake the Next Step in the past few weeks.

1) Lee (name changed) came to Take the Next Step desperate for help to pay his rent to prevent eviction from his humble home. He also needed a message phone where he could pick up messages for daily business and news regarding other help options. We agreed to be his message phone, gave him some help toward his rent, and St. Vincent de Paul also assisted with his rent.

Lee was working part-time in Everett on the night shift. Each evening he took the last bus from Monroe to Everett, worked his four hours, dozed at his work site, and then took the first bus east each morning

Since assisting Lee, he has been able to get a full time job locally which requires no bus ride, pay his rent, and his is now looking forward to getting his own phone!

2) Board member, Jan Johansen, who works at Monroe High School, overheard a teacher request a custodian to remove a new, never been used, stove from her classroom. Jan asked what would happen to the stove. The custodian said it would be up to the principal. The principal told Jan the stove had to be turned over to the school district, have a lot of paperwork done on it, and be put up for public auction. Jan mentioned she knew of a worthy non-profit agency that could use the stove. Within a few minutes, the principal returned and told Jan to take the stove.

The stove was delivered by two custodians in their own truck. They removed the existing nonfunctioning antique stove from Take The Next Step. In transit the new stove became slightly altered and it couldn’t be made to be level.

Later that afternoon, two hungry homeless men received job leads and an emergency meal. They asked why the stove was in the middle of the kitchen. They asked to take a look at it. In a few minutes, the stove was level and installed in the kitchen! Wow!

3) During the third week of September, Elizabeth Kohl, our office manager, and several other volunteers presented Take the Next Step and its work to: Cascade Community church’s outreach pastor, the Monroe Ministerium (pastors of Monroe), The Sky Valley Community Service Office (welfare office), and the local chapter of St. Vincent de Paul.

Through those meetings, Take the Next Step will receive a monthly pledge amount and work more closely with both St. Vincent’s and the local welfare office. An administrator at the welfare office has suggested a further meeting to outline procedures to refer families between their office and ours. They want to partner with us! Amazing!

We're Official - a 501(c)(3)! - October, 2005

As our work grew we realized this was a far bigger endeavor than even we had imagined. We needed to become a “real” organization. Through a generous corporate donation we filed our articles of incorporation as a not for profit enterprise - the State of Washington approved our articles and granted Take the Next Step 501(c)3 status in just two weeks. Our attorney said she had never seen anything like this; the process often takes four to six months...truly divine intervention.