LOWELL, Mass. – Stepping Stones Family Services has been named the winner of Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union’s National Nonprofit Day Campaign. The organization received a $2,019 donation as the winning prize.
Stepping Stones Family Services (SSFS), located in Haverhill, Mass., assists mothers and low-income families by providing free child care items, including diapers, wipes, clothing and formula. Additionally, they offer programs to help mothers with job training, resume writing, nutrition education, tutoring services and enrollment in other community-based services.
Executive Director, Jill Tsiplakis, began the organization in 2016. When it started, it was a once-a-month pop-up event in Lawrence, where moms could go to get diapers and other supplies. From there, Tsiplakis opened an office, which is open three days during the week. The organization is and always has been completely run by volunteers. Tsiplakis is a veteran of the United States Army Reserve, and is able to run the organization completely unpaid. There was a time when she had to use her own funds to keep the organization running.
“I am so excited,” said Tsiplakis. “We are always needing extra funds. Last year, we were just scraping by, and finally, we’re starting to get the funding that we need.”
Two months after Tsiplakis opened the main office location, nearly 200 women with children who were impacted by last year’s Merrimack Valley gas incident turned to SSFS for assistance. Due to the extreme need, some programs, including the Momtrepreneur Program, which teaches women how to run their own small business, had to be put on hold so funds could go directly to providing supplies and support to affected families.
“I was pretty bummed out that we had all these great plans, but then we had to scale way back just so that we could service our population,” said Tsiplakis. “I am really excited to get the Momtrepreneur Program up and running,” she added.
Tsiplakis said the dramatic impact the gas incident had on so many families made her organization a go-to for community members in need, and now that she has established a solid group of women that she serves, she can focus on expanding the organization’s services.
Ellen Curran, a dedicated volunteer, nominated SSFS in the Credit Union’s National Nonprofit Day Campaign.
“It’s surreal that we won,” said Curran. “[Tsiplakis] really needs it, and for her to be able to expand the organization and do more, I am just really happy for her.”
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union ran the Nonprofit Day Campaign from July 29th through August 10th as a way to recognize National Nonprofit Day, which was celebrated across the country on August 17th. Community members nominated their favorite local 501(c)(3) nonprofits for the chance to win a $2,019 donation. The Credit Union received 214 nominations in total for 109 various nonprofit organizations.
“Stepping Stones Family Services is an incredible organization with a great story,” said Mark S. Cochran, President and Chief Executive Officer of Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union. “We are truly honored to award them with this donation to help them expand their organization and further their mission,” he added.
At right, Jill Tsiplakis, Executive Director of Stepping Stones Family Services, holds her award as the winner of Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union’s National Nonprofit Day Campaign.