Dear Stepping Stones Community,
Wishing you all a beautiful transition into Autumn! For so many, this begins a time of gathering together, shedding old layers, and looking at the year behind and the year ahead. This has certainly been a "rite of passage" year for Stepping Stones, as the community has had to learn to grow, to grieve, and to remember each other and our shared mission in even deeper ways.
I have worked with Stepping Stones for about 5 years now, and have been serving as Director of Stepping Stones since Danielle's announcement of her illness in Spring. I am now writing to announce my stepping down as Director for maternity leave...
Enjoy this summary from a Marin Girls Summer Trip to Jug Handle Creek Farm!
We had a super fun car ride with singing, updates about school, talks about new crushes and friends and some of their recent body changes. Many of them were feeling the weight of all the homework that comes with being in 8th grade and while excited for the weekend were navigating that stress.
"It's amazing to see this group of boys in the midst of their teenage lives have this incredible bond together in ways that reveal true maturity... The boys have a capacity to hold a lot for themselves, each other, and the world." - Boys Group Leader
This Marin boys group just had their Summer Trip and start to 9th grade! Enjoy the summary from the group Leaders!
Several themes we heard and saw were about the importance of having balance between "busy" life and relaxing (especially in nature!), the natural embrace of new member T into the group, supporting one another, working through processes as a group (choosing hikes, games, cooking/cleaning, etc.), and mostly just having fun together...
Every May we host our annual Spring Retreat for the entire internal Stepping Stones village. This means all our Leaders, Elders, Board members, Staff, Mentors and regular volunteers are all invited to spend a long weekend connecting and diving into the heart of the work we do with the Stepping Stones Project.
This year, we were blessed to be welcomed to host our retreat on the beautiful grounds of our sister organization, Leap Now. Leap Now is a rites of passage based gap year program for youth finishing or just finished with high school, seeking a guided process for that special year in between high school and whatever is next.
Our community enjoyed a full weekend amongst the oaks, bays and redwoods, ate great food, shared deeply in Council, and connected ages 25 to 75 through words play and music and dance. We also hosted an all-day Diversity & Inclusion Training with our special guests, the Mosaic Project. Mosaic Project offers immersive, experiential education programs in diversity, empathy and conflict resolution.
Thank you everyone for joining and bringing so much heart to our community, and special thanks to Leap Now and Mosaic!
If you are SSP Staff, you can view the full post & MOSAIC online resources HERE.
Dear Stepping Stones Community,
As a parent, family member, volunteer or friend of Stepping Stones, you know that SSP is both a program for youth, and a community for many. As such, when good or bad things happen, we want you to know about it. And sometimes we need to ask for your support.
We are saddened to have to tell you that Danielle Gladd, our Executive Director for the past two years, has recently taken medical leave due to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Our community is deeply saddened. Her condition is worsening and treatment is difficult. The purpose of this letter is to update you as part of our community, regarding Danielle’s condition and what you may wish to do if you are called to help.
Naturally, we’ve received questions from leaders, parents, and friends of SSP, and we want to answer them.
Is there anything I can do to help?
As you can imagine, Danielle has encountered significant expenses in health care. At this time, we encourage anyone who feels called to make a direct contribution (large or small) to help Danielle with these expenses via the website below. A donation of any size will be very appreciated and you will be able to send comments of support for Danielle on the website as well.
Donate : https://www.youcaring.com/daniellegladd-799943
How is SSP moving forward?
We want to assure you that we are coordinating a plan to move forward. Our Board has named Emily Frost, who has been working with Stepping Stones for the past 3.5 years, as our new Executive Director. Emily is very experienced with the elements of operation in Stepping Stones and will be working through the summer to guide staff and continue with important processes such as group starts, leader hiring, and many other critical items. We are confident in her ability to serve as a caring and effective ED in this transition.
Other staff members (Madhavi, Shena, Laurie, and Laura) will be picking up some of the task areas as well. Meanwhile, the Board, along with key members across our organization, are initiating succession planning as appropriate. We have increased hours for staff to make sure that administratively we are meeting our many program tasks.
We appreciate your patience during this time of transition. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns. SSP is a wonderful community of caring people engaging their skills and hearts to help youth in a challenging world, one we all share. We appreciate your care and concern during this time.
We were very lucky this Spring to host our 1st ever long awaited intergenerational panel event. We shared dialogue about the following themes:
Thank you to all our speakers: Emily Frost, Laurie Margaritonda, Skylar Wilson, Jeffrey Sgilagyi, Marilyn Hendee & 3 SSP Alumni youth now in high school and college.
You can make a donation towards this recording and future events like it HERE.
Congratulations to all our Coming of Age groups who completed their Marking Ceremonies this Fall and Winter of 2016. We are so proud of all the incredible work you put in, inside and out, to be part of the Stepping Stones program.
Thank you to all the parents and families, Leaders and Elders, who guided and stuck with the process. We feel so lucky many of the families have decided to join our continuing program and will meet with their Leaders well into high school. (more photos & stories...)
Gratitude for the wholehearted prayers of the inspired Stepping Stones community this weekend at our Fall Retreat. Thank you to all our people for being part of this beloved community. Thank you those who offered their open hearts and helpful hands. Well wishes to those who could not attend, your presence was missed.
Many of us gathered this weekend to tend the hearth of our Stepping Stones village, sending prayers out for the waters, for all life. We honored our lineage in the way we held each other this weekend, in Council, in song, in story, in laughter and tears... at the ocean's edge in the wind and pouring rain!!! So awesome :)
Warm wishes to everyone over the holidays,
Thank you to our fabulous speaker, Mary Reynolds Thompson, for a gorgeous evening exploring her unique mandala of the inner and outer worlds. Thank you to all our guests and donors who honored us with your presence and generosity, and to our co-sponsors, Copperfield's Books and Sustainable San Rafael. It is such a gift to have so many allies in our community. Warmth and gratitude to you as the seasons turn. Hope to see you again soon!
Find more about Mary's work: www.maryreynoldsthompson.com, www.writethedamnbook.com
"The earth's landscapes are our ancestors. Their wisdom resides within us, waiting to be awakened."
~ We invite you to make a DONATION to the Stepping Stones Project as a thank you for this recording ~