Sometimes when I mention I’m a STEP board member people are a little confused by exactly what that means. A nonprofit Board of Directors is often not as visible as they could be and maybe even a little bit mysterious.
I’d say being a member of the STEP Board of Directors actually means I’m part of one of the most generous, hard working volunteer groups you’re ever likely to meet.
Currently there are 18 board members at STEP and we all volunteer for either a three or a four year term. Our board members do this because they genuinely care about the community they live in and want to give back.
From talking with people who serve on other boards over the years I’ve come to learn the STEP board functions in a way that is not commonly seen elsewhere. We are a “working board”. Everyone on this board enjoys getting involved and making things happen. We volunteer far more time than many people might suspect, in fact, some of us treat this like it’s a second job. The hours spent on various projects and events really add up! This is what makes being a member of the STEP board such a rewarding experience. The camaraderie. The shared goals and vision. The teamwork.
We have members from many different backgrounds who bring all kinds of skills to the table. We are school teachers, sales people, small business owners, doctors, lawyers and stay at home parents. Just recently the former Mayor of St. Louis Park, Jeff Jacobs, has rejoined us for a second term of service. It takes all kinds of experience to do this successfully and everyone joins in wherever they feel they can best help.
The official STEP mission is as follows; “STEP strengthens our community by responding to the basic emergency needs of individuals and families in St. Louis Park.
As an individual board member our job is to, “Provide governance to the organization, represent it to the community, and accept the ultimate legal authority for it.”
This means we are all held accountable for the financial well being of STEP and making sure all our efforts to grow the organization and help our community are done within the law. It also means we are out and about in St. Louis Park attending events both hosted by STEP and otherwise. We are out there meeting people and telling them about STEP in a constant effort to bring awareness to our mission.
I asked the chair of the board, Dick Parsons, to tell me about something that he has accomplished during his time with us that he was particularly proud of. He said, “Probably the event I find most rewarding was leading the team of board members and friends of STEP that helped find, fully vet, and then purchase our current home at 6812 Lake Street. In 2009 and 2010 we looked a several buildings before we finalized the acquisition, signing the mortgage in March 2010. Moving into the building in May 2010 fulfilled STEP’s long held dream of a permanent home. Then, thanks to generous donors and strong community support, we were able to pay off the mortgage in 2013”.
You can see from this example board members are involved in every aspect of running the organization from planning of fundraising events and hosting them all the way up to finding a new building to house the organization! It truly does take a strong team of people with very different fields of expertise.
Of course, as Dick mentions, the success STEP has experienced in its mission is a reflection of the community we have here in ST. Louis Park. People here really do care and want to help their friends and neighbors in need. This makes our job a lot easier!
Here’s a photo of the current STEP Board of Directors. We are your friends and neighbors. We are volunteers. We love what we do and guide this organization with integrity, pride and hard work.
However, we couldn’t any of it without the support of people like you.
Absent: Cindy Motzko, Dave Homans, Erin Gonzalez-Bardzinski, Joe Tatalovich, John Steffenhagen.
This article was written by Jason Alvey in 2016 for use by STEP with its community engagement efforts.