For a parent, there is almost no greater fear than being homeless and wondering where your child’s next meal is going to come from.
Yet, according to the National Alliance to end Homelessness, for a stunning, 600, 000 U.S. families, this is the reality.
Be it due to substance abuse or simply falling on hard times, when facing homelessness, it can sometimes feel like there is nowhere to turn.
This is the situation, Cynthia McGuigan, founder of Steps 4 life Community Services, has lived here in Redlands for 17 years, but she came to the Inland Empire in 1986.
“It started for me with my own struggles,” said McGuigan. “I was homeless and I had a son and I did not have any job skills. I had no idea what I was going to do. I went through treatment and when I got out it was like, okay, what’s the next step.”
Cynthia decided she wanted better for herself and better for her son. After receiving help, she graduated from college and became a substance abuse counselor. For 18 years, she worked as a counselor in the substance abuse field and worked at the prison as a counselor for eight years. But she never forgot her time on the streets and the personal struggles that she had endured for many years.
“They didn’t have the services that they have now at all,” said McGuigan. “And that was my mission, to open a home so that not only women, but woman with children would have a safe and comfortable place to grow.
In 2001, McGuigan opened her first house, and this was the beginning of Steps 4 Life Community Services, an all-inclusive evidence based program that aims to help woman, men and children, who are struggling with homelessness, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental ailments and even to reunite children back with their parent.
Participants in the Steps 4 Life Community Services program are given safe housing and time to get back on their feet and to learn life skills, education, stability budgeting, and job skills that will help them to be able to re-enter society.
Soon McGuigan would open several more houses. Not only would her mission begin to expand, but through the help of the community she would be able to build on the services offered.
“My next goal is to be able to have a warehouse,” said McGuigan. “When they get their apartments we furnish everything from the bathroom to the kitchen-brand new. That’s thousands of dollars that clients do not have to worry about spending. My long term goal is to have a warehouse where people can come in and get the supplies they need for permanent housing.
On May 27 2017, Steps 4 life Community Services will host its first ever fundraiser at the Burrage Mansion in Redlands. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting the Steps 4 Life Community Service website.
The fundraiser will not only be a testament to how far Steps 4 life has come, but also to the hard work and dedication of those participating in the program.
The fundraiser will feature a silent auction, dinner, raffles, and a play titled “The Mystery of the Missing Diamond”, to be put on by participants in the program.
The proceeds will go building an education center for children and helping the houses become more self-sustainable by allowing residents to begin growing their own food and to have GOD beds for the clients.
Steps 4 Life Community Services is mainly volunteer run, with GED tutor, Lori Hinkelman and case manager, Chere McKenzie and Robert Beyeor, along with many other volunteers, helping to serve the the Step 4 Life residents. With that said, volunteers are still needed.
“Any help is welcome,” said McGuigan. “As Steps 4 Life Community Service grows we’re going continue to need help from the community, including sponsorships and donations. So many people have already come to help. It’s amazing.”
McGuigan was both amazed and grateful at the response Steps 4 life Community Services has been receiving from the community.
“It was my little tiny dream,” said McGuigan. “And from where I was to where I am - I never expected it to blossom to this extreme.”
Those who wish to volunteer with Steps4life or donate, may do so by contacting Cynthia at 1 (909) 800-9970 or by emailing email@example.com.