Interview with Denyse Richter, founder and president
What is your organization’s mission?
Step Up Parents offers financial assistance to grandparents and other relative caregivers who have stepped up to raise children whose parents struggle with substance use disorder. Sadly, many of these parents have either died because of their addiction or are incarcerated.
Who do you serve within the Greater Lakes Region? And through what programs and services do you serve them?
We serve the kinship families throughout the Greater Lakes Region. Over ten percent of our families come from these areas. We work with a network of referring partners throughout the state. In the Greater Lakes Region, we work with the Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), Lakes Region Community Services, Belknap County ServiceLink, and schools. Families may also apply directly through our website.
How do you impact peoples’ lives?
Many kinship caregivers struggle with the financial strain of caring for additional family members. We help ease the stress they experience by providing assistance quickly and responding to each family's unique needs. We help grandparents, aunts, and uncles and other relatives buy and access a broad range of things they need for the children they are raising—such as food, clothing, daycare, camps, lessons, auto repair, computers for online learning. By supporting kinship caregivers today, Step Up Parents hopes to alleviate some of the societal and economic costs of addressing childhood trauma in the health care, education, child welfare and correctional systems of the future.
How has funding from the Greater Lakes Children’s Auction benefited your organization?
This funding allows us to serve families from the greater Lakes Region and raise awareness about Step Up Parents. Having local partners and buy-in from community members validates our mission while raising awareness for our cause. The Children’s Auction is a tremendous initiative that has made an enormous impact on children and the nonprofits that support them. Its tireless efforts and generosity over the years has helped so many children in need, and there is no greater purpose than that.
What kind of feedback do you get from those you serve?
Recently, each director on our board, called several families we have helped for their feedback regarding their experience with Step Up Parents. All families contacted gave us a 10 out of 10 rating, and many said Step Up Parents was a lifesaver by being there when they needed it. One of our referring social workers shared that she honestly believes that Step Up Parents’ act of kindness was the catalyst for the family she was working with to feel comfortable in asking for help.
Please tell us a story about an impact you had on a child or a family that was transformative.
We recently helped a young couple, Jaimie and Clark, who have two children of their own, one with autism, when they took in three young nieces, ages 5, 3, and 1 years old. Jaimie also cares for her mother, who struggles with medical issues and lives in the home. Now a family of seven, they needed a larger vehicle to accommodate all the car seats and passengers. SUP helped them with a down payment, so they could purchase a mini van.
Interview done by Janice Beetle Books.