Since 1972, Steppingstone has provided essential human services to vulnerable populations in Fall River and New Bedford, MA, including the homeless and individuals with behavioral health disorders. Steppingstones Annual Get Steppin Walk for the Homeless began in 2003, with proceeds contributing toward operational expenses of Steppingstones Next Step Home, a permanent supportive housing program for the disabled homeless providing approximately 40 units of housing throughout the City of Fall River.
In 2004, Steppingstone took the next step toward helping the homeless in our community by assuming operations of the City of Fall Rivers emergency shelter; overseeing its daily operations, serving meals and providing case management services to homeless guests. Steppingstones Get Steppin Walk for the Homeless proceeds were then used to fund operational costs of the First Step Inn shelter.
Over the years, tough economic conditions spurred a growth in the rate of homelessness in Fall River, and the First Step Inns facility could no longer meet the demand for emergency shelter. After years of planning and with the assistance of many dedicated corporations, foundations and private, local and government resources, Steppingstone relocated the First Step Inn to a larger 50-bed facility where it currently operates. Upon opening at its new location on Durfee Street, the First Step Inn began remaining open 24/7 and expanded staffing. The cost of operating the First Step Inn almost doubled, while most of the funding sources didnt increase.
The Get Steppin Walk for the Homeless has always been a vital source of support for the First Step Inn, but this event has become even more critical to the ongoing operations of the shelter after its recent 2017 expansion. The First Step Inn helps about 400 homeless people each year. It offers homeless guests a comprehensive system-of-care including case management, housing placement assistance, referral to treatment and primary care and other services such as educational programming. Daily meals are served in the large dining hall and there is a commercial kitchen on-site. The facility contains a large laundry room, common areas, bathrooms and showers and bunk rooms for both men and women. In order to continue operating the First Step Inn, we rely on the generosity of our corporate partners and individual donors in the community to support our Get Steppin Walk for the Homeless.