Since its inception more than 80 years ago, TwinStar Credit Union has been committed to helping the South Sound through community engagement. One of the more impactful ways they do this is by providing support to local organizations, particularly ones that foster inclusivity. That’s why their partnership with A Step Ahead in Pierce County (ASAPC) seems like a perfect fit in both their shared values and their “walk the walk” commitment to their community.

A Step Ahead in Pierce County Gala Auction
ASAPC is one of four early support agencies in Pierce County and covers the largest geographical area. Photo credit: Al Martinez

Mark your calendars! The Wild Wild West is coming to Puyallup thanks to A Step Ahead’s annual Gala & Auction. This exciting event, sponsored again by title sponsor TwinStar, allows the community to support ASAPC’s essential CARES FUND, which ensures that all children have access to vital therapeutic services, regardless of their family’s financial situation. All proceeds from the fun-filled May 18 gala, held at Farm 12 restaurant, will go directly towards this critical fund. So round up your gang and get ready for the wildest hoedown on this side of the Mississippi. Join ASAPC as they blaze a trail to support more families than ever!

A Step Ahead in Pierce County Gala Auction
ASAPC catchment area is experiencing unprecedented development and referrals continue to grow. Photo credit: Al Martinez

Two Teacher-Founded Organizations With TwinStar and A Step Ahead Pierce County

TwinStar was founded in 1938 by a small group of school teachers at Olympia High School. “The goal at the time was to provide a lending option for teachers who, at that time, struggled to secure lending due to what banks considered ‘part-time’ work,” explains Corinn Wohl, Director of Community Engagement at TwinStar. “As a community-based credit union, we have over 250,000 members who consider us their financial partner. We are committed to helping all people realize their financial dreams; this includes offering products and services to our members that meet their needs and providing financial and volunteer support to organizations within our service areas that are providing services to those in need.”

It is perhaps no surprise that TwinStar and ASAPC found each other. Also founded by a teacher in 2001, A Step Ahead recognized that their community had a need they could support, primarily in infants and toddlers with disabilities and that they would never turn down a child or family for financial reasons.

“A Step Ahead’s goal is to build the capacity of parents to help promote their child’s development for children birth to three years old,” says Lindsey Hartman, Interim Executive Director at ASAPC. “Our providers achieve that through direct services and parent coaching. We also connect the families to resources as well as the next steps as they transition out of our program at the age of three. The goal of early support services is to get assistance and support to families of children who experience delays, differences, diagnoses, and disabilities as quickly as possible and meet them in their home rather than a clinic for a natural environment.”

A Step Ahead in Pierce County Gala Auction
A Step Ahead Pierce County supports children from birth to three years. Photo credit: Al Martinez

Working Together for the South Sound Community

With two organizations working together with shared goals, the community wins. “TwinStar’s support has allowed us to continue to provide outstanding early support services to our families regardless of their inability to pay,” continues Hartman. “The majority of our families apply for financial support or forgiveness. The children we serve receive a variety of services, including special instruction, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and vision services to promote their development. It’s our goal to provide those services regardless of their access to insurance, their insurance coverage, or their ability to cover copays.”

It has also allowed A Step Ahead to bring about various developmentally appropriate and age-specific events and playgroups in places such as the Kaleidoscope Family Gym, Tacoma’s Children’s Museum, and the Pierce County Libraries.

To TwinStar, it’s just how they do things. “As an organization, we strongly believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plays a crucial role in fostering an equitable and fair society,” says Wohl. “We are committed to creating a culture of acceptance and respect for diversity. Implementing DEI initiatives that work toward ensuring equity and fairness enables us to address social inequalities and break down systemic barriers. We value the impact that DEI has in creating an inclusive, equitable, and welcoming environment that benefits individuals, organizations, and society. By supporting the important work of ASAPC, we are living out this belief.”

The connection between the two organizations is so solid that Scott Leingang, Director of Mortgage Sales, is also the Board President at ASAPC. “TwinStar is all about our membership and the communities we serve,” Leingang says. “ASAPC is all about our families and the communities we serve.  It really is a perfect synergy of missions and values. It has been so rewarding to serve on the board as long as I have and being board president is something I take very seriously. ASAPC does so much for the families we serve, and the board does not take that for granted. Some families are in the stressful situation of not knowing how to help their child. ASAPC allows them to build on the strategies provided by our services and release some of the burden they have been feeling.”

A Step Ahead in Pierce County Gala Auction
TwinStar and ASAPC work together to make common goals a reality. Photo credit: Al Martinez

A Step Ahead Pierce County’s Annual Gala and Auction

TwinStar is also continuing to sponsor A Step Ahead’s Gala & Auction, which allows community members to contribute to ASAPC’s cause. All proceeds from the event support their CARES FUND, which covers the cost of uncompensated care, so every child receives the necessary therapeutic support they need regardless of the family’s ability to pay. This year’s theme is the Wild Wild West and will be held at the Farm 12 restaurant in Puyallup on May 18. Donations to help the cause can be made here.

This continued partnership ensures a need fulfilled in the South Sound. “TwinStar has been supporting A Step Ahead for longer than I’ve been at the agency,” says Hartman. “They have supported A Step Ahead and our shared customers year after year. Their generosity is unparalleled. They are always willing to step up if asked or, in most cases, step up before we even have a chance. Our partnership speaks to our individual organizations’ roots and our shared commitment to the people and communities we serve. Their goal is to build the capacity of their clients, and so is ours.”