Puyallup: News

Nonprofit Step By Step inches closer to renovating former Van Lierop farm

Krista Linden stands in the space of a future cafe and possible restaurant space on the former Van Lierop Bulb Farm in Puyallup. Step By Step, a nonprofit organization servicing at-risk mothers, received a $50,000 donation as the beneficiary organization for the 18th annual Absher Kids’ Cup Charity Golf Tournament.
Krista Linden stands in the space of a future cafe and possible restaurant space on the former Van Lierop Bulb Farm in Puyallup. Step By Step, a nonprofit organization servicing at-risk mothers, received a $50,000 donation as the beneficiary organization for the 18th annual Absher Kids’ Cup Charity Golf Tournament. jbessex@gateline.com

As its name suggests, nonprofit organization Step By Step is one step closer to beginning construction on a project meant to create job training for disadvantaged mothers on the homestead of what was once the Van Lierop Bulb Farm in Puyallup.

Step By Step, which services at-risk pregnant women and mothers to help them deliver healthy babies and establish safe homes, received a $50,000 donation as the beneficiary organization for the 18th annual Absher Kids’ Cup Charity Golf Tournament.

The tournament was held Aug. 12 at the McCormick Woods Golf Course in Port Orchard and was hosted by Puyallup’s Apple Physical Therapy Foundation and Absher Construction Company. Every year, an organization supporting local children and families is chosen to benefit from the event, and sponsors of different holes recruit team members to play.

“(Step By Step) is a great organization,” said Randy Johnson, founder of the Apple Physical Therapy Foundation. “They work with 1,500 families a year. They’re providing a great service and doing great work.”

The large donation came at the perfect moment for Step By Step, said Krista Linden, the organization’s executive director.

“We thought the event would raise $30,000, but it raised $50,000, ” Linden said. “We still had $50,000 to raise to be done with Phase One.”

Phase One is part of Step By Step’s larger $6 million “Legacy In Motion” project to turn its property near Shaw Road and Pioneer Way East into a multi-service development complete with education and job training facilities for its clients and event space and restaurants for local residents. The property was purchased from Neil Van Lierop in December 2015.

The first phase in the project totaled $1.5 million and included the acquisition of about six acres of the Van Lierop property. Step By Step needed about $50,000 to complete this phase — a goal it achieved thanks to the golf tournament.

“The whole thing was an executive director’s dream,” Linden said. “We know how labor-intensive events are, and the Absher staff managed the whole thing. It was tremendous.”

In August, the organization presented its project to the board of the Washington State Department of Commerce to receive a $1.5 million grant for part of the $6 million cost of the project. The nonprofit is waiting to hear back about the grant, but Linden says she feels good about the presentation.

Now, Linden and the organization’s staff face another step they have to complete — gathering the rest of the $3 million of the project, which covers the costs and services of parking, a septic system, fire looping, restaurants, event spaces, a 2,000-square-foot kitchen and other services.

The organization will focus on gathering this money through in-kind donations, loans or other donated money, Linden said.

While Linden is unsure when official construction of the project will begin, she has big goals for the future, planning to serve both the clients at Step By Step and the local community while simultaneously preserving the character of the farmland’s homestead.

One goal is to turn part of the property’s old gift shop building into an event space with a kitchen for clients of the organization, with education rooms on the second floor. Linden hopes to employ around 100 women and work up from there. The organization has been working to help babies be born healthy in the state of Washington for the past 20 years, said Linden, and she plans to continue to do that.

“We want to further the education of the women that we’re working with,” Linden said. “We’re not just thinking about employment — we’re thinking about a lot of other things. We’ll keep doing what we’ve always done. This (project) will just be an extension of those relationships.”

Allison Needles: 253-256-7043, @herald_allison

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