Since our start in 1963, Stepping Stones has touched the lives of countless volunteers, participants and dedicated staff. Please enjoy some of their stories:
Stepping Stones is an Ordinary Place – but the People there are Extraordinary!“I remember the promise my mom gave me, as I reluctantly walked through the gate to Camp Stepping Stones. She promised me that I would change the lives of the campers I was helping and I like to believe she was right. However, she didn’t tell me just how much these campers would change MY life.
“In the joy these kids have brought me in our summers spent together swimming, playing kickball, making fun arts and crafts and simply enjoying the beautiful days outside – I have fallen in love with the calling of working with individuals with disabilities. Not only have I returned to Stepping Stones for the last six summers, but I have decided to devote my life to this incredible work and am currently majoring in Special Education.
Stepping Stones is an ordinary place, but the people are extraordinary and each camper I have encountered has made my life brighter. For that, this ordinary place is one of my favorite places to be. Stepping Stones will always have a special place in my heart.”
— Katie Perry, Stepping Stones Volunteer and Special Education Major
Stepping Stones’ Ripple Effect on a Family or Community is Huge!I’ve been associated with Stepping Stones since 1983 as a volunteer, board member and as board President several times. In those 34 years, I’ve observed the growth of the agency from primarily a summer camp facility for special needs children with two campuses to a year-round agency with four campuses. Our budget has grown from around $500,000 to close to $6 million today. Stepping Stones’ impact on the community has evolved from serving a few hundred children, to close to 2,000 special needs participants of all ages.
Over the years, I have been particularly drawn to the plight of the families of our children and adults. The story of our participant is only part of the story. The ripple effect on a family or community of a severely disabled child is huge, often affecting tens of people.
Stepping Stones relieves the stress and numerous complications encountered on a 24/7 basis by providing respite on a daily, weekly or weekend basis. I personally have been drawn in by family relationships and stories of desperation when it seemed there was no where to go for relief, until Stepping Stones.
When you multiply the number of participants by ten, you get the community effect of Stepping Stones. I hope to keep doing whatever I can for the agency – for as long as I can. The need out-strips what we can provide.
— Fred Fischer, longtime supporter and board member
The Respite Care is so Important to Our Family“My 21 year-old daughter currently attends Stepping Stones’ adult center in Norwood. The program is so good for her. She is 99% nonverbal and needs total care, but is able to be involved in so many of the activities there.
“We found out about Stepping Stones when she was 12. She attended the summer day camp at Given for about 4 years and now goes to the Overnight Staycations at Camp Allyn. The respite care is so important to our family. She gets to be somewhat independent and it gives us a break from care-giving. The staff are people I can count on and not have to worry, as much, because she is getting loving care.
“We don’t know what we would have ever done if we had not found the Stepping Stones organization.”
— Sue Acey, parent of a Stepping Stones participant
Volunteer Camp Counselor Inspired by Young Camper’s Passion“I have been asked why I am so dedicated to Stepping Stones. Let me introduce you to Ricky…
“He was about 9 when I was his 14 year-old volunteer summer camp counselor. Rick had a mind as sharp as a tack and a body riddled with ailments that required special medical equipment and kept him confined to a wheelchair. We spent a few summers together at camp and he was my little buddy. He’d even come swim at my house on the weekends.
Ricky had an admiration for the other campers. He was the kid who set a great example of other kids. He had a great sense of humor; he encouraged other campers in activities; he cheered them on in sports and he’d start camp songs just to get another camper engaged. He was just the most awesome, thoughtful, funny, encouraging, kind, positive and loyal kid I’ve ever known….and he LOVED Stepping Stones. I was just awestruck by his selflessness when he had so many of his own physical challenges.
As the years passed, we lost touch but I never forgot him. I learned of Rick’s passing as I entered Stepping Stones for my first Trustee meeting. The plaque at the gym door reads,
“Go outside, look up at the blue sky, take a deep breath of fresh air and thank God for another day.
“Ricky has been my inspiration for so many years. I’ll continue to do what I can to help his beloved Stepping Stones.
“So there you have it. A young boy touched a teen girl that his passion became hers and she carries on to honor him.”
— Mary McGraw, Past Volunteer, Stepping Stones Board Member and Long-Time Supporter
“…an Experience that will Change Lives, while Celebrating What Makes Us All Unique!”My summer at Stepping Stones was absolutely unforgettable! Starting out as a Volunteer Coach, I knew that my days would be challenging and I was right – every single day was an adventure. Camp was a learning experience, not just for the kids, but for myself as well.
Creating art projects, fishing, boating, swimming, singing – all of these activities were part of the planned agenda, day in and out. But, it was the unplanned occurrences that truly made Stepping Stones special. The laughter, the friendships, even the ‘failures’ that turned into successes. My time at Stepping Stones gave me the opportunity to share experiences and create memories with friends, both campers and staff, who impacted my life and made Stepping Stones a place to call home.
Everyone involved has one goal in mind: to create an experience that will change lives while celebrating what makes us all unique.
— Lily Grantham, Volunteer Coach
If you would like to submit your personal Stepping Stones story, please email Director of Development Kelly Crow.