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Community Standing Together

Updated: May 17, 2023

View from the balcony
Lincoln School Apartment Program Community Room

Welcome Beyond the Boxers! The Beyond the Box Blog and Podcast represents all of us that color outside the lines, that strive to escape the restraints that society places on us, and desire to see the world from a new perspective. Life begins where our comfort zone ends.

Life requires creative thinking to successfully navigate this crazy thing called life… because let’s face it, we all know it isn’t easy. At. S.T.E.P. by S.T.E.P. Inc. our goal is to make a difference by advocating for health and wellness, housing, education, and opportunity for all members of our community, while challenging stigma and social norms.

S.T.E.P. by S.T.E.P., Inc. is an agency that not only strives to think outside the box, but we are made up of a group of individuals that have lived-life experience. We’ve overcome struggles, and we’ve learned to come up with creative solutions to the adversity that we have faced. We have created Beyond the Box to generate a conversation to help you overcome the hurdles that you face in your own life, and to generate new ideas and solutions.

Some of the topics you can expect to explore in Beyond the Box will focus on improving individual health and wellness - such as dealing with adversity, managing mental illness and chronic health conditions, nutrition, etc. We will present tools, resources, and strategies that will be immediately accessible to you to use as you attempt to overcome the struggles you face. As a peer-run agency, we have nothing but appreciation and respect for lived-life experience. As a result, we will not only be interviewing the experts, but we will also be talking with the people out there that are currently fighting the daily battle every day, as well as the people that have succeeded in overcoming challenges. We will offer you valuable advice and improve your understanding through communication with people from all walks of life - because every voice deserves to be heard.

However, we will not only look at quality of life on and individual level, but we will also look at life on a much larger scale. We will raise awareness to issues in our society that are in need of attention, and we will propose new and innovative solutions to the barriers that we face. We will challenge you to realize that each and every one of us can make a difference. Every voice, even your voice, can make a difference.

In the debut podcast of Beyond the Box, I was able to sit down with Dave Bayne, the Executive Director of S.T.E.P. by S.T.E.P., Inc. Dave has been with the agency since the day the doors opened in 1997. We discussed the history of the last twenty-five years and how our one room Drop-In-Center has expanded to offer more community services, and how we’ve implemented a Community Housing Initiative. While staying true to our grassroots mission, we have grown from assisting not only those discovering and recovering with mental illness, but expanded our quest to improving the mental, physical, and emotional health and well-being of every member of our community.

In the podcast, Dave discusses the trials and tribulations of running a non-profit organization, as well as some of the obstacles that S.T.E.P. by S.T.E.P., Inc. has faced over the last ten years as the Community Housing Initiative was implemented. He also shared with us how the latest expansion in our Community Housing Initiative went from driving by an old, abandoned school that was no longer in use, to becoming a beautiful facility with twenty permanent subsidized apartments, enough room to further expand the services that are offered at our Drop-In Center, and a breathtaking community room that will house many performance and community events.

Dave and I also discuss what it means to be a peer-run agency, as well as the credentials that our employees offering services have attained. We talk about the progression of the peer movement throughout the recent years and how it has changed the services that S.T.E.P. by S.T.E.P., Inc. has been able to provide.

“It’s about looking at your neighbor and saying hi. It’s about helping. It’s about accepting and looking at people as people in a non-judgmental way. We don’t have any idea how someone else lives, or the steps that they have taken, or the life that they have lived. We are quick to jump on stigmas, labels, and judgments… and that doesn’t do any of us any good. All we really need right now is to be able to give people a little bit of hope, a little bit of love, and a little bit of caring. It is just about people helping people, neighbors helping neighbors, and not worrying about what others will think, and offering people a hand.”

~ Dave Bayne

You can listen to my interview with Dave in its entirety on any of your favorite streaming platforms - Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more. Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly Beyond the Box Blog and Podcast to receive all the latest updates on our current housing project, as well as the other conversations that we will bring to the table.

Next week I will be interviewing our Deputy Director, Tammy Bush. Tammy is the brains behind the funding of our operation. She spends countless hours writing grants and searching for new funding opportunities. Tammy can offer advice about how to take steps to start new initiatives and seek funding in your own community. Because if working at S.T.E.P. by S.T.E.P., Inc. has taught me anything, it is that a vision, a dream, an idea can start with one person, and with a little work and dedication it can become a reality... and every voice matters.

Carrie Woodcock

Director of Wellness and Recovery Services

S.T.E.P. by S.T.E.P., Inc.

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