Gratitude: A Message and Appeal from Our CEO

Sue Schroeder, CEO at Stepping Stones of Rockford, expresses gratitude for all those who support the agency and for those who work tirelessly to help the clients receiving services at the agency. It may be Thanksgiving weekend, but they'll be plenty of agency staff working the holiday--after all, the residential component at Stepping Stones of Rockford is a 24-hour a day, 365 days a week endeavor. 

There are so many reasons to be thankful at Stepping Stones of Rockford. The number of persons served has grown exponentially in a very short duration of time. A new group home is opening and another is in the works. Programming at the Outpatient Counseling continues to expand. We're chipping away at those long waiting lists! 

Below is Sue's annual appeal letter. We hope you will take a few moments to read her words. 

THANK YOU for your support. We can't do this without the community, workers and funders. Happy Thanksgiving--with gratitude, Your Stepping Stones Family.

Dear Friend of Stepping Stones,

As I sat down to write this year's appeal letter, I had a sense of pride for all that has been accomplished here at Stepping Stones over the past year. We have expanded our programs to serve more people in need of essential housing and mental health services. This means that even more individuals began their recovery. Of course, none of this could have been accomplished without the necessary funding and I want to take this opportunity to thank our stakeholders, funding sources including the Winnebago County Community Mental Health Board and kind donors like you, for your continued support. Your financial investment of our mission is greatly appreciated!

What stands out the most to me over the past year is the impact we've had on those we've served. Together, we have helped children, youth and adults in need of mental health care improve their lives one step at a time. And while you were not here to witness this, let me assure you the progress we've seen in those we care for is the most rewarding part of our work. While I've seen it happen countless times over the years, I am awed each time it occurs. A new person, who is very symptomatic and disorganized, enters our program and, with our help, eventually becomes stable and regains their balance and sense of hope. These transformations are striking and have been life-saving.

Helping people change their lives is challenging and when I am asked how we do it, I often times reference E.M. Forster's epigraph "Only Connect" from his novel Howard's End about poverty and rapid social and economic change set in London during the Edwardian period. He called on us to put our greatest energy into our relationships. I believe the care we provide comes down to that-connecting with those we serve and taking the time to "see" each person who passes through our doors. Many people who first come to us feel they are unseen and don't matter. I was reminded of the power of "seeing" those we serve while watching an October episode of CBS' Sunday Morning where John Dickerson interviewed David Brooks, author of The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen.

Brooks expressed concern that our society seems to have lost the ability to see and understand one another. He hopes people will re-learn to do this saying, "If there's one skill needed at the center of any healthy family, community, organization or country, it's the ability to see each other and to make each other feel seen, heard and understood." He added, "1 think there's nothing crueler than to be indifferent to someone, to make someone feel invisible."

I am sure you agree with Brooks that no one should feel invisible. Your support will help to ensure this does not happen to anyone served by our organization and that is why I am asking you to show your financial support to Stepping Stones by including a check in the enclosed envelope or by visiting to make an online donation today. Your gift will tell every person who enters our program that they are seen and matter.

As a journalist, David Brooks has written about character, morality and personal architecture. Sunday Morning interviewer John Dickerson said he is on a one-man mission aimed at " less than changing human behavior." Seeing Brooks' level of commitment for others, I feel we should recruit him-he would make a great Social Worker. Brooks theorizes that in any group of people in society there are two distinct types. He writes some are diminishers and some are illuminators:

"Diminishers make you feel invisible, unseen. They're not curious about you. They stereotype you. They label you."
"And then, there are other people who are illuminators. They are people who are just curious about you, and they make you feel lit up. I see you. I honor your experience."

Brooks challenges us to be the illuminators who build strength in those who have been wounded by severe illnesses, social injustices or other unfortunate occurrences. His prescription for us, is to weave together our community's social fabric to ensure our most vulnerable members receive the care and support they need to live as independently and successfully as possible. I can't think of any call to action that aligns closer to our mission here at Stepping Stones. I know we will continue to be here in 2024 to play our part in expanding our community's social fabric for those with mental illnesses and I am counting on you to help further this cause as well.

I began my letter by saying how proud I was of the progress we have made over the past year. This has been possible due to our dedicated board of directors, hardworking staff, supportive family members, community partners, funders, donors and of course, our engaged and appreciative clients. Our plan in the coming year includes opening a new Group Home, building a brand new Group Home, further expanding our outpatient mental health services to serve even more children, youth and adults and continuing the Stars of Light's community outreach activities to confront stigma and celebrate the important connection between artistic expression and ongoing recovery. I hope I can count on you to show your financial support to Stepping Stones. Together we can help the most vulnerable members of our community feel seen, heard and understood.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my letter. We could not carry out our mission as successfully as we do without the confidence you show in us. Remember, we count on receiving your support at this time of the year and I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, I wish you and your family a safe and meaningful Thanksgiving and the very best throughout the holiday season. With continued gratitude, Sue Schroeder, CEO, Stepping Stones of Rockford.

Yes, I value the essential mental health care Stepping Stones provides in our community! Please use my gift to help the individuals you serve improve their lives one step at a time.

If you'd like to support our mission, you can make a gift via mail, in person or on this website. Please make your check payable to: Stepping Stones of Rockford, Inc.

  • TO MAIL your gift: Randy Roberson, Stepping Stones of Rockford, 706 N. Main Street, Rockford IL 61103. Please include your name, address and/or email Address and Phone number with your gift. 
  • IN PERSON: Stop by the Main Office! 706 N. Main Street, Rockford IL 61103 (across from the Discovery Center).
  • VIA THIS WEBSITE: (Electronic donations are handled via Pay Pal)

: please provide their form. Please let us know if you have included Stepping Stones in your planned giving.

Stepping Stones of Rockford, Inc is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit social service organization. All contributions are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. If you have questions about making a donation, please contact Randy Roberson at 815-963-0683.

Donor Privacy Policy: Stepping Stones is committed to respecting the privacy of our donors and practicing proper stewardship of donations received. Stepping Stones' donor privacy practices conform to the charitable contributions guidelines of the IRS and the Donor Bill of Rights, which has been developed by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and The Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits. To learn more about the Donor Bill of Rights, please visit

Agency sites to be equipped with AEDs
What's Happening at Stepping Stones: May 2023

                         Stepping Stones of Rockford, Inc.                     

Residential and Supported Services          Outpatient Counseling Center      
706 N. Main Street                                         4317 Maray Drive 
Rockford, IL 61103                                         Rockford, IL 61107
815.963.0683                                                  779.970.5605

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