USC Upstate Volleyball Steps Out in Service

Friday, October 14, 2011

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate volleyball team partnered with the local Miracle Hill Ministries to help its Step by Step community service program.

Step by Step is a walking and running program in partnership with Miracle Hill Ministries of Spartanburg. The program is provided to the female residents of Miracle Hill as a means of teaching and ministering to the women through fitness. Step by Step seeks to teach women to take care of themselves spiritually, physically and mentally; to achieve success through goal setting; to develop healthy, empowering, uplifting Godly relationships with other women and to form lifelong healthy habits.

"This isn't a program where exercise in the end-all, be-all," said Step by Step founder Margo Baghdady. "Step by Step is about these women achieving spiritual, physical and mental wellness."

The Spartan volleyball team helped collect gently used athletic shoes to donate to Step by Step. Upon joining the program, each participant is given a pair of shoes and a water bottle. As women progress in the program, other incentives are given such as bus passes, t-shirts and restaurant gift cards. However, the lack of shoes is a huge need for Step by Step because many of the women would not be able to participate in the program without the shoes being provided.

"It is such a blessing that the volleyball team members can help donate shoes they don't need anymore," Baghdady said. "It's so meaningful that the girls on the team know what the shoes will be used for and can participate in this cause benefitting other women."

The Upstate volleyball team initially got involved in Step by Step because head coach Jennifer Calloway's friendship with Baghdady. Calloway approached Baghdad over the summer about the volleyball team heading up an initiative to collect athletic shoes for the program. The Spartans have gathered shoes over the last several months.

"Collecting shoes for this program was such a great way to give back to the community and allow the girls on the volleyball team and other athletes to support others in need," Calloway said.

"When ladies come to us they're a mess spiritually, mentally and physically and Step by Step is about getting spiritually fit," said Becky Cashtrow, the women's program director at Miracle Hill. "We can see positive results from the women who stick with the program. They usually need a gentle nudge to initially get involved, but after a few sessions they begin to look forward to it."

Miracle Hill Rescue Mission is the largest homeless shelter in Spartanburg and is dedicated to providing short-term emergency care for those most in need in Spartanburg County. The Mission provides food, shelter, discipleship, counseling and assistance in finding work and housing. It also offers a free medical clinic providing vision, dental and medical exams for clients and the surrounding community.

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The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.