For Alicia Sims, it was the ministry opportunity of a lifetime. She recalls telling her husband, “If I could do anything in the world, I would just go work at Step By Step.”
That dream came true in 2017 when she was named program director of the holistic ministry to single mothers ages 12 to 24. The ministry, based in Lexington, Kentucky, serves more than 250 mothers and children each year.
Sims first started volunteering with Step By Step in 2013 as a support group leader. During her years as a volunteer, “I fell in love with these women,” she said. “They’re incredible. They are uplifting. … They are the most resilient group of women.”
Since joining Step By Step’s four-member staff, “I’ve just seen God do amazing things through this organization,” Sims said. “I’ve seen girls who were dropping out of high school, finish high school, go to college and say, ‘I actually want to work in ministry myself. I want to help other moms learn what I’ve learned and I want to do what you do.’
‘Raising up women’
“And that’s ultimately our goal — that we are raising up women who will ultimately replace us. That is why I’m so passionate about it.”
Sims noted that Step By Step’s mission of serving single moms “is to surround them with support and ultimately see them empowered to improve their lives and the lives of their children through healing, encouragement, faith and education.”
On a practical level, that involves such resources as mentoring, support groups, Bible studies and crisis intervention as well as workshops on parenting, life skills, budgeting, nutrition, goal-setting and more.
“We also get to introduce them to who Jesus is,” Sims noted. “That is the ‘why’ behind everything that we do. We are an organization that is deeply and madly in love with Jesus. We know that He is ultimately what is going to change their lives.”
Step By Step’s three-year, three-step program includes Revive, a group component where moms come together to build sisterhood and community; Dare to Dream goal-setting sessions in consultation with program staff; and Refine mentoring that pairs a woman of faith from the community with a participant to build a personal relationship and provide ongoing, weekly encouragement.
As the moms pursue personal growth in a nurturing environment, the program’s inspirational “Revive Creed” declares in part: “I am not my past mistakes. I am not my diagnosis. I am not what others have said about me. My past does not dictate my future behavior. In this space I can be made new.”
Ministry leaders are launching a new Step Into Freedom financial literacy workshop this fall. The 10-week course is designed to help young families address financial instability, which often causes housing insecurity and related struggles. The program also will include financial advocate mentors and matching funds for moms who set up individual savings accounts to invest in future financial goals.
As Step By Step partners with dozens of area churches, businesses and organizations, Sims said the staff and volunteers continually strive to help heal and empower the young mothers they serve.
“We believe that these young women have everything that they need to improve their own lives,” she asserted. “We are not saving them. We are walking alongside of them and seeing them reach their goals.”
For more information about Step By Step or to consider starting a similar ministry visit sbslex.org.
Watch a feature video on Step By Step below: