NCC Student Intern Shares Experience Working at Nashua Agency 'Stepping Stones'

Stepping Stones seeks to fill resource gap for homeless youth.

At 20 years old, NCC psychology student Dana Morrison is writing a federal grant to develop a new transitional living program in Nashua and running art projects for homeless youth, all through her summer internship with Stepping Stones. Founded only months ago, Stepping Stones Drop-in Center (SSDC) is a youth drop in center for unaccompanied homeless youth ages 12-25.

Dana pursued the internship for her Psychology Capstone course.

“I was talking to [Professor] Jayne Barnes, and she said there’s this new place called Stepping Stones, and that they have a great mission. I went online to check it out, I’d never heard of anything like a drop-in center for homeless kids,”

 She called Stepping Stones founder and director, Kathy Farland, who showed her around.

“Now, I’m helping Kathy write a federal grant for a transitional living program to create transitional housing for kids 16-22 in Nashua. Part of this would be offering fun activities and life skills courses like cooking and financial literacy courses that could go toward their hours for the week.”

Dana said they’re structuring the new program like a curriculum, where participants are asked to complete certain amount of activities each week related to learning life skills. Part of this would be offering art projects that could go toward their hours for the week. “It’s been a very interesting experience – grant writing at 20,” she said.

While much of her time is dedicated to completing the grant, due June 28, Dana also helps with day-to-day tasks like cleaning, caring for young children of youth, and helping youths prepare to move into apartments. “A lot of them have housing vouchers so they’re about to move into apartments. We’re making lists* of what they need,” she said.

Fall 2021 will be Dana’s last semester at NCC, and her experience at Stepping Stones has solidified her career and educational goals. “I knew I wanted to give back, and that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned. Kathy has said ‘these kids are some of the most resilient people I’ve met, but they don’t have the resources they need’ – and that’s what I want to do, I want to give back all the skills I’ve learned so they could move forward in their life. My dream would be to be an exposure therapist to help kids with anxiety and OCD – giving them the right skills to succeed.”

After NCC, Dana intends to transfer to UNH Durham and earn her Master’s degree there. “It would be my dream to continue school, and go as far as I can.”

Throughout her internship, Dana said what has stood out the most is how little resources there are for unaccompanied, homeless minors. “You have to be 18 plus to stay in a shelter, to get a job, and to sign a lease. You also must be 18 for any social benefits (Medicaid, food stamps). Most of these kids come from bad situations and have to resort to sleeping under bridges or couch surf if they are lucky. And that’s why Stepping Stones and the transitional housing program we’re creating is so important. Doing all this work has a great purpose.”

“I definitely think it’s worth noting how selfless Kathy is, it’s such a new project, and seeing all the work she puts into this – it’s very admirable, she’s a great woman to work with,”

For anyone who would like to get involved, Dana recommended looking at the donation list* or donating money. “Donations are a big thing. And if volunteers have anything specific skills, like a background in finances they can teach people, that is a big help too.

Inquiries about donations and volunteering: Contact Stepping Stones Director Kathy Farland at: 603.787.3016, or Ka[email protected].

Donation List – HOUSEHOLD ITEMS

  • Notebooks
  • Tents
  • 4 microwaves
  • 2 Box fans
  • 2 coffee makers
  • 5 small vacuums
  • 1 broom
  • 5 dustpans with brush
  • 5 sponge mops or
  • Swiffer’s
  • 1 bottle cleaning spray
  • 3 packs kitchen sponges
  • 4 plungers
  • 4 new twin sheet sets
  • 5 sets knives with paring, serrated, chef’s
  • 2 kitchen garbage cans
  • 2 vegetable peelers
  • 3 cutting boards
  • 3 small toolkits with hammer, screwdrivers

Donation List – FOOD ITEMS

  • 1 bag flour
  • 1 bag sugar
  • 3 coffee
  • 4 pkg teabags
  • 3 jars jelly
  • 2 bottles ketchup
  • 2 jars mayonnaise
  • 1 bottle mustard
  • 3 bottles cooking oil
  • 3 multipacks mac and cheese
50+

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