Local nonprofit Step By Step is optimistic that it will break ground at the Puyallup valley’s former Van Lierop Bulb Farm site by the end of the year. The organization is working to repurpose the site into a multi-service center that will offer education and job training facilities for the women they serve, including a wedding and event venue and onsite restaurant and catering services.
Krista Linden, founder and executive director of Step By Step, says initial conversations for the center began more than six years ago, when the organization identified a need to better support the disadvantaged women with young children they serve in their efforts to obtain gainful employment.
However, Linden says her goal for the center goes beyond just teaching basic employment skills. She wants to build strong families. “We are going to help the women we serve to not just become skilled, reliable and professional employees, but also to realize their value as mothers, to recognize their unique strengths and to see hope for their future. We are going to help them dream and then we are going to help them put those dreams to work.”
The organization currently serves at-risk pregnant women who are working to recover from serious barriers to health and success. The primary goals are to help women have a healthy pregnancy, embrace positive parenting and establish a safe home. But Linden wants to do more. “I want to take the relationships we have already established with these mothers and help them take one step further so they can better provide for themselves and their children.”
Linden expresses that many of the women they serve lack the skills, confidence and resources to seek higher education or commit to a lengthy or intense program. The focus for the center will be on teaching soft skills and providing on the job training opportunities in a flexible environment that allows more individualized plans for women based on their specific needs. Wraparound services will include case management, mental health counseling and life skills and parenting classes.
Step By Step purchased six acres of the Van Lierop Farm property on New Year’s Eve of 2016 after successfully raising $1.5 million in the first year of its capital campaign. The organization spent most of last year planning and finalizing plans for development of the site and launched its second phase of fundraising. The Puyallup City Council recently unanimously approved Step By Step’s development agreement.
Currently, the organization is in the process of submitting permits and working to finish raising the funds needed to prepare the facility for future use. To date, the organization has raised an additional $3 million for renovations to the existing buildings, as well as required utility upgrades and site work. Linden says they have over $750,000 in pending grants they are waiting to hear back on. She believes they need to raise another $1,200,000 more over the next few months for the organization to remain on schedule for their planned grand opening of the center in 2018.
“This has been a huge undertaking and we still have a ways to go. The Van Lierop Bulb Farm has served this community for generations. I am excited to revive this beautiful farm and for it to start a new legacy that will allow it to be preserved and to continue to serve this community. The investments we are making here today will leave a lasting legacy and improve the quality of life for all our families.”
The center will be named after Germaine Korum, who has battled lung cancer for years and is known for her advocacy for women and children. The Korum family gave a $500,000 financial gift early on in the project, which was matched to help the organization acquire the property. Additional naming opportunities are still available, including the Commons Building, a 420-seat event hall and 2,000 square foot training kitchen.
Major donors for the center include the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation, Bamford Foundation, Franciscan Foundation, Columbia Bank, Ben B. Cheney Foundation, and the Boeing Employees Community Fund. Learn more about the project at www.legacyinmotionproject.org.