Letter from the CEO

“In the time we have, it is surely our duty to do all the good we can, to all the people we can, in all the ways we can.”   – William Barclay

This quote seems to summarize the philosophy of the STEPS organization.  We take great pride in empowering individuals to lift themselves out of poverty.  We arm them with the skills necessary to increase their self-sufficiency and provide support to promote success.

It is indeed my honor to have served this wonderf ul organization for over twenty-five (25) years.  As I reflected on my tenure, I took a trip “down memory lane.”  Change has indeed been the one word that summarizes our journey.  Change that was planned and more often, change that caused us to quickly rethink, react and rectify.  This organization has grown over the past 25 years in ways that is hard to fathom.

Our service area is vast, eleven counties in South Central Virginia:  Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward.   The services delivered in each locality are diverse, but our overall mission is the same.

A significant change occurred on December 1, 2014 when Governor Terence R. McAuliffe designated STEPS, Inc. as the Community Action Agency for a six (6) county region in South Central Virginia:  Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward.  With this designation, STEPS embarked on a journey to broaden our current service delivery system to include not only our traditional workforce and economic development activities for individuals with barriers to employment, but to expand with the goal of eliminating poverty and increasing self-sufficiency.

STEPS operates a variety of programs organized in four (4) pillars of service:  Economic Development, Education, Emergency Services, and Workforce Development.  Through our partnerships, we look forward to making an even more significant impact on the lives of individuals and families in our region.

STEPS will be embarking on one of our largest and potentially most impactful initiatives in our history:  the completion of a comprehensive needs assessment for the six (6) county community action region.  This initiative will involve community citizens, the faith communities, professional and civic organizations and public and private entities.  STEPS will use the data collected during this process to identify, design and implement programs with the goal of alleviating poverty and increasing self-sufficiency.

I would be remiss if I did not pay homage to those individuals who were so instrumental in the creation of our organization over thirty years ago.  Pat Payne, the first Executive Director of the “Tri-County Sheltered Workshop,” invested many years nurturing this newly created entity.  She was shepherded by a Board of Directors that saw a need in our community to provide quality services to individuals with disabilities and found a way to build a facility that still serves as our corporate office today.  That initial Board of Directors included:

  • Braxton Apperson, III (Buckingham)
  • Michael Boykin (Richmond)
  • Jean Carr (Lunenburg)
  • Marjorie Chambers (Prince Edward)
  • Barbara Dixon (Buckingham)
  • Estelle Dottin (Cumberland)
  • Ruth Doyne (Prince Edward)
  • Avoy Glover (Lunenburg)
  • David Ingram (Amelia)
  • John Lewis (Prince Edward)
  • Elsie McGavock (Cumberland)
  • Eunice Mottley (Nottoway)
  • Phillip Templin (Prince Edward)

I am so proud to work collaboratively with the employees of STEPS.  Together this group of committed individuals has led our organization to be recognized as one of the premiere not for profit organizations in the State.  We are internationally accredited by CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities).  This laborious accreditation process ensures that STEPS has policies and procedures in place to ensure continued quality service delivery.

The volunteer Board of Directors of STEPS is an asset to our organizational success.  Their guidance and oversight provide each of us with the challenge to strive for quality in everything we do.

It is my desire to ensure that we never lose sight of our mission:

STEPS is committed to coordinating, creating, and delivering

quality comprehensive services

in an effort to foster self-sufficiency and eliminate poverty.

The very first slogan of our organization was “A Hand Up, Not a Hand Out” and we have once again adopted that as our tag line.

Enjoy learning more about our organization as you visit our newly designed website.  As I tell people every day…you have to see STEPS to believe it!   I would like to extend an invitation for you to visit our operations.   I am confident that you will see firsthand the positive impact STEPS is having on the lives of those we serve, the impact we are having in our communities and the impact on the employees who lead these initiatives.   If you would like to become more involved, please do not hesitate to let us know.

Most Sincerely,

Sharon L. Harrup, MS
President and CEO