Kenneth Croom came home from prison struggling to find resources, and a way to make a living. He had no formal training and found himself at a crossroads. With a determination to make a difference in his community, and an entrepreneurial spirit he started an organization dedicated to giving formerly incarcerated men a safe place to lay their heads and resources to build a new life. His motto was, “Take the First Step to Building a New Future.”
A Step to Freedom (ASF) is a non-profit organization which has provided services to formerly incarcerated and homeless individuals living in South Los Angeles for the past 30 years. The volunteers and staff of this small minority run organization located on Broadway and 80th Street, impacts hundreds of individuals by providing Interim housing, re-entry: vital document services, and multiple programs to help rebuild a life of sustainability and success..
In 2003, Kenya Kirkland, the daughter of Kenneth Croom, took over the organization as executive director. Her goal was to expand and build on the programs already in place to achieve her father’s vision while evolving that vision into one that elevated the organization to meet the growing number of clients needing services. With a strong team and strategic planning, she has expanded from 12 beds to 96, with wrap around services and four sites.
“It is our goal to not only focus on one aspect of the person. We want to build the mind, body and spirit, which can sound cliche’ but it is a mindset change. We want our clients to leave our transition housing with a trade, business venture or job in place. That’s how they take the first step to building a new future,” said Kirkland, ASF executive director.
A Step to Freedom is celebrating their 30-year anniversary this year with a virtual brunch on July 17, 2021. They will celebrate their many milestones and look towards what is still to come. The organization is determined to continue to work with the homeless population, provide services for justice impacted individuals, and partner with city leaders and other organizations to ensure they are effecting change in the community where it’s most needed.
To learn more about ASF visit, https://asteptofreedom.org/.