Step Up Chattanooga: Over the Years
Attire for Hire
Job Interview Ready
First Job Interview Training Classes
After relentless research into the inner workings and outreach effectiveness of regional nonprofits and ministries, plus networking among Chattanooga city leaders, S. Stephanie Toombs launched Step uP Chattanooga’s first training seminars for job interviewing, Fall, 2010. Attendees were young men and women graduates from a local work training program. Following the seminars, grads received job interview clothing courtesy of Step uP Chattanooga Attire for Hire Boutique. (See column left, top.)
(Note: For many months afterward, when these young men or women would encounter Ms. Toombs, there were hugs and exciting catch-ups to share. The seminars were a success. Building relationships. Building lives.)
Ms. Toombs, also serving as a member of the city’s Gang Task Force, was featured, front page, by Chattanooga Free Times Press. The article showcased the Attire for Hire Boutique, then located in a housing project. Sparking the interest of retail volunteers, hairstylists, and professional photographers they volunteered their services. It was these photographers who captured the remarkable before and after photos (see column left, lower). The woman pictured was a referral. The Boutique provided clothing and accessories while associated volunteer stylists completed the makeover for her job interview.
Step uP Chattanooga
Attire for Hire Showroom – First Presbyterian
Official Establishment as Nonprofit – First Certified for Work Life Curriculum
Step uP Chattanooga nonprofit status became official, June, 2014. Having adopted the philosophy of the Chalmers Center as revealed in their book, “When Helping Hurts—How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself,” Ms. Toombs was the first person certified as facilitator for the Work Life curricula in Chattanooga, May, 2016. Work Life is a biblically integrated job preparedness curriculum.
Introducing the Work Life program to First Presbyterian Church, already implementing the Chalmer’s Faith and Finance curriculum through their Rapha ministry, Ms. Toombs then worked with them for two years facilitating Work Life. Three Step uP Chattanooga board members served there as volunteer allies.
During partnership with First Presbyterian to facilitate Work Life and Faith & Finance classes, Step uP Chattanooga was offered housing for the Attire for Hire Boutique in the church building. It remains there to date, and is managed by a volunteer, Roxanne. God used the Rapha ministry to deliver her from homelessness and drugs to a positive experience of faith-in-Christ living. (See photo, left column, lower)
Trial Classes – Chatt Inn
Working with the owners of a hotel converted for providing residence, and potential life intervention to the impoverished, Step uP Chattanooga established Work Life classes for some ten weeks. The quest was to inspire and educate towards a better way of addressing the needs of generational poverty by placing job preparedness first. “Get your outside work done; make preparations in the field; then you can build your house.” Proverbs 24:27. In this way, participants will have the opportunity to know their value through work, leading to long-term change in their lives.
Summer 2019 Classes
Fall 2019 Classes
Late Fall 2019 Event:
«Step uP & Overcome»
Step uP Chattanooga Event Hosting 50 SDC Reentry Inmates
Classes Established – Silverdale Detention Center
Working with Ms. Wendy Harris, the Reentry Program Director at Silverdale Detention Center, the “Step uP Silverdale” program (curriculum taught at Silverdale Detention Center) began. That initial class of some half dozen participants attended 14 sessions. The Work Life curriculum, facilitated by Ms. Toombs and mentored by volunteer allies.
For participants having already reached Reentry Program level, Step uP Silverdale classes prepare them from all angles of life and professionalism, allowing them to return to their community, home, and the workplace with newfound insights and with the support of new friends. Since beginning the Step uP Silverdale program, there have been Summer and Fall 2019 participants who were presented with a graduation certificate. (Sadly, Spring 2020 Classes were canceled due to Covid 19. Plans for correspondence courses are in the works.)
Once participants become graduates, Step Up offers to continue the relationship by connecting them with community resources: Employment, Training, Education, Social Services, and for some, Housing.
Late Fall, 2019, Step uP Chattanooga joined with three churches and a number of volunteers to hold an event for approximately 50 Silverdale Detention Center female inmates attending the event as guests. After speakers, music, food, and pastoral gospel presentation, several inmates responded to an invitation to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.
More women then stepped forward expressing desire to realign their lives with God’s plans and purposes through repentance and prayer. There were many tears and prayers and loving hugs.
Inmates received approved gift bags filled with necessity items, a devotional book and journal, and candy. The Step uP & Overcome Event was made possible through the permission of the Silverdale Reentry Director, Wendy Harris, the planning of Step uP Chattanooga Director, S. Stephanie Toombs, Step uP board members, and allies who were serving in the Step uP Silverdale Work Life Program, plus twenty servant-hearted volunteers.
Fall 2020 Forming Alliance
Covid 19 Cancels SDC Classes – Correspondence Classes Opening Fall 2020
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Spring Classes were canceled only a few weeks into session and Silverdale was placed on lockdown until July, possibly to be extended.
No in-house classes are scheduled at this time. Step uP Chattanooga is in the process of converting to correspondence classes to accommodate the reentry inmates. Facilitators and allies will engage with the inmates with back and forth mailings of lessons, questions, homework, plus Zoom sessions to allow all involved access to a personal discussion of the materials studied.
Calls and arrangements for enlisting certified facilitators and allies are currently in the works.
Much interest is being generated with other organizations and churches. Step uP plans to propose forming an alliance: casting the vision, updating and informing, and soliciting involvement in this Christ-led positive direction. This has been a dream of Step uP since its inception in 2010, and now there is visible evidence of the Lord working to bring the faith-based community together. Fall 2020 plans also include assimilating more churches and ministry organizations together to enjoin this Alliance.
NOTE: Please refer to our Prayer Requests to stay abreast of weekly advances in program quests and to understand both ministry needs and opportunities to serve. Feel free at any time to contact us as we all work together in the Great Commission.