We support clients who are at a point where they can discern with clarity their life’s primary aspiration or purpose, even in the presence of obstacles.

For some the process has been short term, tangible, and has quickly taken them to their goal; for others it can be more long term, taking a step or steps forward with us, with even more ahead. 

Capitalizing on expert skills

Fatemeh Mousavi came to the USA choosing Charlottesville for this new life, with the dream of once again owning a tailor shop as she had in Turkey and before that Iran.  

Originally from Afghanistan, she brings self-taught, long developed expertise as a seamstress, even producing original and professional level clothing.  Arriving here as a refugee with her husband and adult children, there were plenty of obstacles in the way of her long-range goal, but as local supporters learned of her story and contributed to a fundraiser, StepForward was able to join them to help it come to fruition. 

She is open for business at Gus’ Custom Tailoring, 813 W. Main in Charlottesville. Fatemeh aspires  to continue giving back to the community which welcomed her new business and which is now her chosen home.

Launching a career in medicine

Olivia, one of our very first clients, has a long term goal of becoming a nurse. She has a clear sense of moving toward a career of serving others, and even in non-career ways she has shown a great strength in serving others. 

During our time together she reached a milestone by completing her Associate of Science degree, and overall has maneuvered around multiple obstacles, especially job challenges given the childcare needs for her two young boys. 

As of August, 2022 she is able to maintain a career-related part-time job while she tackles the last two semesters, and she looks ahead to graduating with an Associate degree in Nursing by May of 2023.

Inspiring hope

Shadee Gilliam wanted to expand his entrepreneur clothing line from a fledgling business, largely out of his home and the internet to a more thriving one, ultimately with a local physical storefront. He envisions a business that goes beyond just making a profit by spreading his inspiring and hope-filled story to the community and by offering all future hires fair and generous employment.  

The hope connection is from his brand SVN7VII, representing 3 ways of expressing “7” or “777”, the number of days he was formerly incarcerated, and during which time he was able to turn his life around.  Of note is his ability to market via his sideline as a Christian Hip Hop artist (stage name Shad Gill). 

StepForward connected him with ongoing business counseling from a relevant agency (New Hill) and also helped shorten the time to deliver products by building inventory. Clearly Shadee is highly motivated and driven to be a role model for individuals who are trying to reintegrate into society post-incarceration. 


His secret: Keep going

Freddy Ntamulenga from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was referred to StepForward by a partner agency (LVCA) while he was working in Housekeeping at the University of Virginia (UVA). His dream, however, was to become trained and licensed as an electrician. 

The primary obstacle to attending evening electronics classes at CATEC was ongoing quality childcare for his 4 young children since his wife was employed during the evening. With support from StepForward, and with Freddy’s hard work and determination, eventually came major recognition from UVA when he was accepted in a 4 year Apprenticeship Program. The first 2 years of this full time employment in UVA Facilities Management included training in several different licensed trades, electronics being one of them. For the remaining two years he can choose to focus only on his chosen trade of electronics with ongoing training and classes. 

As of August 2022 Freddy has already been able to make that choice. So he is clearly on the path to reaching his aspired goal. His strong motivation, which is a major criteria for any StepForward client, has been profoundly evident, propelling him on his chosen path.