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Step Up Ventura Services Recipient to Dedicated Volunteer

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

Written by Ventura County residence, Marina Porter

How has Step Up Ventura helped you?

Step Up Ventura was instrumental to our family when we relocated to Ventura for job opportunities and to be closer to family in Santa Clarita shortly after having our son. Our housing had become unstable due to unforeseen circumstances, and while we both had jobs, the wages were not enough to cover the high rent here. Our family ended up living in a motel for a short period until a suitable rental became available.

Step Up Ventura helped us learn excellent calming strategies for our son who had been diagnosed with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). He was acting out in preschool. We learned trauma-informed learning techniques that encouraged our child’s natural discovery process. It also helped us recognize when we were reacting in a way that repeated our own generational cycle of abuse. This was triggered during the time since we were in “survival mode” after experiencing crippling financial loss due to excessive rent increases and job instability as new parents. You never think you’ll experience homelessness especially as a parent, but it can happen to anyone under the perfect storm of circumstances.

Step Up Ventura assisted with our daycare/preschool tuition when our CDR (Child Development Resources) funds stopped because we earned just over the maximum limit for a family of three based on the federal income limit and not state.

We also received Step Up Ventura assistance with gently used clothing, age-appropriate books, toys and shoes. The organization also provided us with gift cards for local grocery stores so we could purchase essential food items that are not covered by WIC (Woman Infant & Children) or at the food pantries. We were grateful to get fresh produce when Step Up Ventura partnered with Food Forward, a nonprofit that distributed freshly grown produce from donors’ personal gardens.

Step Up Ventura’s program made an incredibly positive impact in our lives. We are so proud that our son, who is in 1st grade now, is performing at the top of his grade level, enjoys learning in the classroom, and has better self-regulation from the techniques we learned from Step Up Ventura.

What difference has the organization made in your community?

Step Up Ventura partners with other non-profits such as Food Forward, City Center and Kids & Families Together. Step Up Ventura’s hands-on therapeutic child development strategies and parent training, plus educating our daycare/preschool teachers to better identify children with trauma, helps our community impacted by homelessness/foster care. Our kids are not being kicked out of daycare/preschool, they’re being shown how to manage their emotions, how to trust their care providers, and ultimately get them prepared for success.

What would you tell someone who is interested in getting involved with Step Up Ventura?

Step Up Ventura is EXACTLY what our community needs to help our growing homeless family population prevent their children from repeating this cycle by ensuring that they can trust caregivers, self-regulate their emotions, know their worth and have a safe space at daycare/preschool, even when things at home are unpredictable.

I sincerely hope that people give generously to Step Up Ventura with monthly tuition sponsorships and large donations so the organization can continue to partner with more preschools in Ventura. Many families desperately need these services throughout Ventura County like in Oxnard and Simi Valley. Step Up Ventura has lean operating costs, transparent accounting and acts with integrity to serve families. Having served on the Board for Step Up Ventura from 2016-2021, I am confident that when you support Step Up Ventura, your money is going directly to serve families in our community.

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