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Programs Provide Vital Resources for At-Risk Mothers in Puyallup

Step by Step and Farm 12 offer support along with job training and career opportunities.

By Erica Buehler on March 24, 2023

Step by Step in Puyallup, WA
Farm 12

The City of Puyallup may not be as well-known as its northern neighbor Seattle, but it makes up for what it lacks in domestic notoriety in strengthened community and thoughtful innovation. A primary example of the seemingly effortless blend is Step By Step Family Support Center, a local nonprofit devoted to serving at-risk pregnant women.

Before moving to Washington and having seven daughters, founder and Executive Director Krista Linden grew up on a farm in Colorado and pursued a teaching degree, where a singular experience with one of the children she taught — who had fetal alcohol syndrome — completely changed her life’s trajectory.

Once most of her kids were a bit older, Linden decided to act upon what she felt was a void in her life, and in 1997, founded the Step By Step center to help at-risk mothers.

Helping Pregnant Mothers

More than 20,000 women have since been referred to Step By Step, spanning Pierce, King and Snohomish counties.

She hired nurses, registered dietitians, licensed counselors and community members to go into women’s homes beginning in pregnancy through the child’s first birthday. All women accepted to the program receive in-home visitation from the center’s staff or in whichever environment they reside to bring about the healthiest outcome for themselves and their babies.

But one thing Linden might not have predicted was the bond she created with the women she helps.

“I began to envision how we could really help the families we’ve maintained relationships with all these years,” Linden says. “Many are now working for Step By Step and Farm 12.”

Farm 12 Restaurant in Puyallup, WA
Farm 12

Cultivating Change Through Farm 12

In 2015, Linden bought the former Van Lierop Bulb Farm property and began massive renovations to make it the community resource she envisioned. Farm 12 Restaurant and Events Center officially opened in 2019.

Linden hired 140 employees, many of whom were mothers who previously benefitted from Step By Step.

Rachel Hamilton, restaurant manager at Farm 12, has been working for the farm since 2019. At the time, Hamilton already had a job but couldn’t pass up the opportunity for the skills and support she’d receive working at the farm.

“(Linden) learned about me and my story through my first and only caseworker,” Hamilton says. “When I found out I was pregnant in 2015, I got connected with Step By Step. My caseworker truly took her time with me and helped me in more ways than I could ever express.”

Hamilton says the choice to work at the farm was a no-brainer — and as she’s been in the role ever since, it’s easy to believe.

“There are a lot of mothers out there who want to work and be professionals and give back, but they don’t know how to,” she says. “Or how to integrate themselves back into the workforce. We need a place for them. This was a place where mothers could go back to work and the proceeds go back to Step By Step and help mothers like us have babies born healthy and strong.”

Providing Resources in Puyallup

Krista Linden, Step By Step Family Support Center

Krista Linden
“I’m looking forward to helping families raise their kids in the most critical time of their lives.”

The complex comprises the Germaine Korum Center, which houses Step By Step’s headquarters, a family counseling and educational center, a job training and workforce preparation facility, and a culinary training program as well as Farm 12 Restaurant and Events and the Loveland Greenhouse.

Farm 12 is a full-service restaurant that provides critical job training, workforce experience and job opportunities for women.

And more than just being an all-encompassing resource, growing the community within and outside of Step By Step remains an imperative part of being there. The hope is that a new child care facility in an agricultural setting will help facilitate that process.

“It will be for our Farm 12 employees but also for the community,” Linden says. “I’m looking forward to helping families raise their kids in the most critical time of their lives.”

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