A black and white close-up of Lisa, side view. She's wearing a black scarf over her hair.

Big Changes Start with Small Steps

A guest blog post by Small Steps to Success Graduate and YWCA Cambridge Marketing Intern Lisa Lewis

Come to the Edge,she said.

We can’t. It’s too high.

Come to the Edge, she said.

We can’t. We might fall.

Come to the edge, she said

And they came,

And she pushed,

And they Flew. 

– Adapted from Waterbugs and Dragonflies, by Doris Stickney

Coming to Small Steps to Success has been very much like the Dragonfly Blossoms. I came to the program not knowing what to expect. I was afraid and anxious, could not imagine that I could even fly. Small Steps coordinators Sara and Nicole challenged the group every step of the way.

“Come closer,” they’d say, “one step at a time,”they’d say.” 

We did not see the edge; we saw safety in our new-found sisterhood. We saw support and a common goal. We saw sisters on a journey together.

Small Steps to Success is a 12-week pre-employment program that prepares women to re-enter the work place. In the program, participants explore community resources, skills assessments, job readiness, networking and at end, find co-op placements.

I came to the program because I had been out of the workforce for a long time. I learned quickly that it is so much more than a pre-employment program, so much more than that. It’s a safe place to heal, to grow and to reinvent yourself.  

When you come to the program, from the first day you feel welcomed and encouraged. As the days pass, so many feelings and emotions arise. You realize that you are stronger than you imagine, smarter than you think. During my time in Small Steps, I saw this amazing thing happen. Somehow this group of women that started out as total strangers became a fantastic group of sisters and all of our own struggles seemed a lot more bearable with others by our sides. As Nicole would say, “problems shared are problems solved,” and that’s exactly what we found together.

Many of the women in the group are survivors, coming from many different walks of life and backgrounds, all suffering loss on some level, drawn together by circumstance, driven by purpose. In the program, we are encouraged and given the opportunity to share as much or as little as we want. But we learn quickly that we are not alone on our journeys. Nicole and Sara strive to create a warm, nurturing and safe environment aimed at helping everyone to relate and connect.

The program is designed with so much care and consideration to show women their many gifts that they may not have realized they had. Sara and Nicole encourage us to focus on our strengths, not our weaknesses, and many participants are pleasantly surprised to learn that things they do regularly in their day-to-day lives are highly-valued skills, transferable skills that they can use in the workplace.

At some point in those 12 weeks of the program, the group takes on a life of its own. Many participants become more relaxed and comfortable with each other. They open up and share more of themselves. One participant said, “I have never felt so safe in a group before.” This is a sentiment echoed by so many other participants. 

What I love about Small Steps is that it covers community resources, skills inventories, networking, resume-building, work readiness, co-op placement and much more. Knowing that you have somewhere to get more support if you need it later on is so empowering.    

I’m taking a lot away from the Small Steps to Success program. It has equipped me with new skills, new confidence and new friendships. It has given me new hope to move forward in my life, and the realization that moving forward in life really does begin with small steps.

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