We are all valuable people of great worth.
StepUp Wilmington was founded as Phoenix Employment Ministry in 2003 by the Rev. Don Skinner, who created a one of a kind job program in Wilmington, NC. During our initial decade of work, we hosted monthly “Orientations” to train and partner with 10 job seekers a month. In 2013, we began partnering with one of the leading job placement organizations in NC, StepUp Ministry in Raleigh. Through this collaboration came stronger programming, an emphasis on data tracking, increased capacity and a clearer vision of what could be achieved in Wilmington. In 2015, Phoenix Employment Ministry integrated the operations of Hometown Hires, a program of the United Way founded by Ben David and Chip Mahan, becoming Phoenix Hometown Hires. For the first time in the organization’s history 100 jobs were place in a single year, 104 to be exact. Over the next year we placed 171 jobs, setting the bar even higher. In January 2018 Phoenix Hometown Hires changed its name to StepUp Wilmington to reflect its commitment to collaboration with StepUp NC, and set a four year goal to place 1,000 new jobs by 2022. Today, StepUp Wilmington continues the mission of its founders, though on a much greater scale and with better tools, providing employment opportunities, training and hope to men and women throughout the Cape Fear region.
At StepUp Wilmington our goal is to ensure every individual who walks through our doors receives the training and support to achieve their goals; whatever they might be. We are a community of people willing to lend a hand to those who need just that. When StepUp Wilmington accepts a participant, we make them a serious promise: If they keep showing up and working hard, we will too and they will find a job. Thanks to our dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters, StepUp Wilmington provides everything tangible they need to succeed, from an interview suit and a public transit card to job-search techniques and hard-skills training. Together, we help motivated people get back on their feet so they can start building a better life for themselves and their families, and a stronger community for us all.
Tony came to StepUp Wilmington looking for work, but also an opportunity to change his life. Raised by a single mother, he started working at the age of 15 to help support his family. He had always found jobs, but never a career and wanted something different for himself. On the first day of Jobs week he wasn’t sure what to expect but says, “the program was way more than I thought it would be. Even though I had a lot of work experience, I took what was said and I put it into action.” Just one week after graduating from Jobs Week, Tony landed a job as a Building Maintenance Technician. He says the skills he learned through StepUp Wilmington got him through the door. “I got to my interview 15 minutes early, and I knew to look around the place. Since I’d be performing maintenance, I checked for areas that needed to be cleaned or fixed. I noticed scuff marks, and I saw that there were six classrooms, so sanitation was key.” Now that he is employed, Tony is focusing on continuing his education, studying for the GED with Cape Fear Literacy Council (CFLC) and meeting with a tutor three times a week. Tony doesn’t want to stop at his GED. He already has plans to start classes to get his CDL and wants to pursue other certifications.
2018 Program Manager, Ashanti Gibbs — Rachel Freeman Unsung Hero Award
2017 AFP Award — Outstanding Fundraising Board of Directors
2016 Wilmington Business Journal, Coastal Entrepreneur Award
2015 Harrelson Center Partner of the Year Award
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