Don’t adjust your television set… That really was Louis and Brad on BronxNet! Alongside our friend and client Fiorella Telles, they appeared on a recent episode of “Mission BX” to discuss Step Up for Better Living.
Produced by Hostos Community College in partnership with BronxNet, “Mission BX” focuses on meaningful work happening in the Bronx. Host Eileen Newman, Executive Director of the Center for Bronx Nonprofits, welcomed Louis, Brad and Fiorella to the show on January 31st.
Louis began the conversation by discussing the mission of Step Up for Better Living. “In a sense you could say our mission is helping people achieve stability, wellness, and self-sufficiency,” Louis said. “These are the three pillars that form the foundation of our mission.”
The conversation soon turned to the impacts of the global pandemic. “So then Covid hits,” said Newman. “What happened?”
Louis detailed some of the ways in the Step Up team had worked to adapt the program and maintain client services in the wake of shutdowns. “One thing that did not change,” he added, “was the aggressive outreach that we did to help people access food.”
If anything, the Step Up Board grew even more active in meeting the community’s dire needs. “Typically, the Board would meet every other month,” Brad explained. But in the wake of the pandemic, that frequency increased. “We literally met every other week during the early part of the crisis.”
It became clear that the South Bronx was facing a food emergency. Brad had an idea: an Emergency Food Fund. “We set up partnerships with these local other not-for-profits, and we got money in the hands of existing organizations that could put it to use right away,” Brad said. “We served over 1,400 families with pop-up food distributions this summer.”
Finally, Fiorella talked about her experience with homelessness, and how Step Up for Better Living was able to help her and her family find secure housing. “I had applied for one particular apartment,” she remembered. “When I went to apply, I met Twila Waters.” Twila, our Director of Social Services, gave Fiorella her card and offered to help. “After that, she kept in contact with me,” Fiorella continued. “She continued to help me if I needed help.” Over thirteen years later, Fiorella and Twila are still in touch.