Catholic Charities’ Step By Step Program Expands Services

Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
FULTON, NY – One of Catholic Charities most accessed community programs, the Step By Step Wellness Program, has undergone several changes to better serve its consumers.

Formerly located at 160 S. Third St., the Step By Step Wellness Program is now located in its new home inside Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s main office building at 365 W. First St.

Pam Peeling (right), coordinator of Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s Step By Step Wellness Program, works on an arts and crafts project with Step By Step members Roxie (left) and Tina.
Pam Peeling (right), coordinator of Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s Step By Step Wellness Program, works on an arts and crafts project with Step By Step members Roxie (left) and Tina.

The new home for the Step By Step Wellness Program offers consumers a spacious location that features a lounge area, a media room with access to computers, a dining area and a full kitchen, all of which are conveniently located on one floor.

Additionally, the new location provides easy access to other Catholic Charities’ programs such as Case Management, Children’s Mental Health Services, and the food pantry.  There are also opportunities for a variety of recreational activities as consumers now have access to Catholic Charities’ gymnasiums and recreation rooms where they are able to participate in exercise programs, enjoy games such as billiards, basketball, ping pong and even Wii.

Program Director for the Step By Step Wellness Program, Karen Davies-Buckley, said that while the new location has created many structural improvements to the program it has also served as the catalyst for some positive changes to the delivery of services as well.

“We received a lot of helpful feedback from our consumers throughout the planning stages for our new location and as a result have extended the hours of operation and have expanded and enhanced the services that we offer,” said Davies-Buckley. “We have adopted a more structured plan for delivering services. Consumers now receive a daily, weekly, and monthly schedule so that they are aware of the many opportunities that are available to them each day. This allows them to plan accordingly to attend those they choose to participate in. They are also able to schedule one-on-one time with individual staff members for assistance on their individual recovery goals such as life skills, educational advancement, transitional employment, or other needs.”

Another benefit made possible by the new location is the opportunity to gain valuable skills that are necessary for competitive employment. Working in conjunction with Step By Step staff members, those enrolled in the Step By Step Wellness Program’s Transitional Employment Program will oversee the day to day operations of Catholic Charities Thrift Store and be responsible for accepting donations of clothing and other items, preparing items for sale and display in the store, and waiting on customers.

“This is a great addition to our Transitional Employment Program. Our goal with this program is to assist participants in the development of positive work habits, interpersonal skills, self-care and management skills, and knowledge of work place routines.  The experience that they will acquire working at our Thrift Shop will be invaluable,” said Davies-Buckley.

As for consumers of the Step By Step Wellness Program, they are excited about the changes and appreciate the benefits the new location offers them outside of the Step By Step programming. With its convenient location on a Centro bus route, participants in the Step By Step Wellness Program now have easy access to the facility; its proximity to other businesses makes it easier for them to take care other errands before or after attending Step By Step; and the programs extended hours makes programming more accessible than ever.

“The new space is really nice!” said one consumer. “It’s nice to have everything all new. I’m glad the Step By Step Wellness Program is running the Thrift Store now, too.”

Other changes to the Step By Step Wellness Program are the addition of three peer generalists who will assist in the day-to-day operations of the program and offer consumers a comprehensive understanding of recovery from a personal point of view and an outreach program that will serve those who are unable to visit the Fulton location.

“There are a number of individuals in the outlying areas of Oswego County who would benefit greatly from the Step By Step Wellness Program. To address that need we will begin providing services in Pulaski on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning in October and are exploring the possibilities of serving other towns and villages as well,” said Davies-Buckley.

Using a wellness recovery model, Catholic Charities’ Step By Step Wellness Program provides services to adults diagnosed with a mental illness. Through various programming, Step By Step supports clients with their recovery, promotes wellness and combats the stigma of mental illness. Various program offerings help individuals increase their self-esteem, establish group affiliations, and maintain independence in the community.

Additionally, the program provides peer support, social and recreational opportunities, educational services, pre-vocational services, advocacy, independent life skill development, goal planning, self-help groups, informational speakers, presentations and promotes participation in activities that are independent of structured programming and community events.

“I enjoy the new program,” said one consumer. “It’s more organized and more productive.”

Another consumer sites the many opportunities the program offers as their favorite aspect.

“Step By Step is great. It gives me an opportunity to expect a change and begin a new life, said the consumer.

The Step By Step Wellness Program is available Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Catholic Charities of Oswego County serves all people in need regardless of their religious affiliation. Primary funding sources for Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s programs are the United Way of Greater Oswego County, the Diocesan Hope Appeal, the County of Oswego and private donations by individuals and local companies and organizations.