sky Grand opening of new office, 2003 S.T.E.P. logo


History of S.T.E.P.

The STEP Journey

The concept for S.T.E.P. began in late 1990 when Kelly McGurran and Jacquie Dillard-Foss were working at Jean Martin group homes, ICF/DDH's developed to serve Deaf and/or Deaf-Blind individuals. Tina lived there and we were told that due to her being so successful she had to move out of the ICF/DDH and into an ILS (Independent Living Services) program. A few local programs assessed Tina for ILS but none of them knew sign language and this was a major factor leading to the development of STEP.

Tina had lived many years at Napa State Hospital and many of the issues and frustrations she dealt with came from lack of communication from the staff that supported her. After much discussion it was decided that Jean Martin Homes, Inc. would submit a Program Plan to begin ILS services to ensure Tina had the support she needed. Jacquie and Kelly, with the help of Heather Campbell and a few other folks, first began by naming the new program. We knew we wanted People to be empowered and that the first Step toward independence would be the scariest. after a long night of laughter and discussion we became Strategies To Empower People (STEP).

Jacquie made the choice that, while we waited for an approved program plan, instead of Tina going into an ILS program where she may have failed, she would live with her until the program plan was approved. In early 1991 Tina moved into a house with Jacquie and her brother. Tina (first person supported by STEP) todayThe program plan was submitted and we waited. After 6 months of non-paid support by Jacquie, Kelly then took over and the decision to have Tina take the leap to living in her own place occurred. Tina moved into an apartment next to Kelly and he continued the non-paid support while we waited for DDS approval of the program plan. Another 6 months went by, Tina flourished (a few bumps in the road) and then Wahoo! On April 1, 1992 the plan was approved and STEP became an actual vendorized ILS program with DDS.

We next served Joe and John. They moved out of the ICF/DDH and then the next people to take their STEPs to independence were Charlotte and Sharlene. We are proud to say that Tina, John, Charlotte and Sharlene are still being supported and empowered at STEP after all these years. Sadly Joe passed away, and we continue to miss him and his smile. The photo shows Tina in 2007.

On April 1, 1994 STEP broke away from the umbrella of Jean Martin Homes when owner/administrator Sheila Rich retired. At that time, STEP was serving seven individuals and had one employee. As of 2014 we serve over 300 and have over 500 employees.

A few milestones along the way:
  1. Independent Living Services began with Tina in 1991
  2. Supported Living Services began with Scott in 1994
  3. Started the Next STEP Vocational Program
  4. The first "office" was in the Howe Rassy apartments, a 2 bed/1bath for $450.00 per month
  5. We added a sign language interpreting program in 1997
  6. Extra STEP began behavioral then medically fragile program
  7. in 2002 we moved to a 10,000 sq. ft. office in Carmichael in 2002 and wondered what to do with all that space
  8. By 2010 we were bursting at the seams, and in 2013 we moved to our even larger, permanent home in Sacramento!

The STEP journey continues and we all still learn and grow along the way. It has been an exciting and fulfilling time for so many of us and with the strength of an amazing team, STEP will continue to strive for excellence. Welcome to this journey of support, empowerment and respect. STEP was built on the foundation of supporting the person to meet their needs and that continues to be our vision. We look forward to having you part of this team of visionaries. Thank you for your commitment to excellence to those we are here to support and guide.