What is the First Step Project?

The First Step Project is a way to make a difference in your community by supporting organizations that help to make our communities stronger, safer and healthier. The project focuses exclusively on in-kind donations – not cash. The idea is to combine the efforts of multiple people so that those who do not have much time or money to contribute can pool their resources in order to make a meaningful contribution to those in need. It reminds us that the small efforts of individuals can make a substantial difference in our communities and in the world – little things add up.

The goal of the project is to overcome people’s inertia when it comes to giving. To date, we have partnered with a shelter that serves survivors of domestic violence, rape, and sexual abuse. We hope to inspire others to launch similar efforts in their communities, and hope to partner with additional nonprofit organizations as our membership grows. The first step is doing something.

For more information about the First Step Project, or if you have questions about starting your own project, email me at shiplives [at] gmail.com. We’ve already helped create three spin-off projects, and would love to help you start one in your community.

If you’re in the Raleigh area and would like to participate in our chapter, you can contact me directly. If you’d like to participate in the Greensboro (NC) chapter, please contact Cathy Flannery at cbf2691 [at] gmail.com.

13 thoughts on “What is the First Step Project?”

  1. Hi Matt,
    This is great! I had a similar idea and started a project called From Ewe to You. I am in ninth grade and collect handmade and gently used items and clothing for donation to local shelters. I found that if I do the collecting, contacting the organizations and actual dropping off of the donations people find it very easy to participate. I have had a very fun and rewarding experience so far!!

  2. wmshipman said:

    That’s fantastic Hannah! I’m very impressed by your initiative, helping to make your community a better place. It would be great if more people followed your lead. My experience has been similar to yours: if I’m willing to do the legwork, others are more likely to contribute. Keep up the good work — you are making a difference!

  3. Matt – I am going to be starting a small animal surgery residency at NC State this summer. I would like to contribute to your project…what’s the best way to get on your pick-up schedule, if you still do that around campus?? THANKS!!

  4. wmshipman said:

    Just shoot me an email, and I’ll add you to my email list. When you have things available to contribute, let me know and I’ll find a time (that is convenient to you) to swing by and pick it up. If you’ll be at NC State, you can reach me at matt_shipman@ncsu.edu. Thanks!

    Matt S.

  5. Mr. Shipman

    I was so inspired by the article in Real Simple magazine about your project. I have been thinking about doing something like this for months but was discouraged because I thought what can one person do? I’m just not really sure how to get started. I have been praying for direction. Can you give me some advise?

  6. wmshipman said:

    Thanks for your kind words. Here’s my advice:
    * First, find an organization that you are passionate about helping — whether it’s a domestic violence shelter, a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or something else.
    *Second, talk to someone at the organization to find out what their needs are. What can they NEVER get enough of? Toilet paper? Canned vegetables? They should be happy to talk to you.
    * Third, ask the people you know (your friends, family, co-workers, etc.) if they’d be interested in participating.
    * Fourth, let those folks know what the needs are and ask them to inform you when they have something to contribute.
    * Fifth, collect the goods and, once a month or so, take whatever you’ve collected and drop it off.
    —-You can find more details about getting started here: https://firststepproject.org/starting-a-project/

    Good luck — and let me know how it goes!

  7. Laurie Myers said:

    Hi Matt,

    I also was inspired by your article in Real Simple magazine and recently moved to the Raleigh/RTP area. My office has been looking for a way to help give back in the community and was wondering if you had a list of items that would be useful to Interact. I would like to try to collect some donations for you. Thanks for what you are doing!! You are a special man.

  8. wmshipman said:

    Hi Laurie,
    you can find a list of items that would be useful for Interact here:

    If you have any questions, please let me know. You can reach me at wmshipman[at]yahoo.com.


  9. Rebecca said:

    I want to do an online stand up ovation for Matt who inspired me to start a chapter here in Los Angeles delivering to an organization called Children of the Night. You are spreading the generosity Matt. Well done! Applause for you!!!!!

  10. wmshipman said:

    Thanks Rebecca! The inspiration is mutual. 🙂

  11. Babs Wagner said:

    Just read your article in the Cary News. You rock! You are such a great role model to your girls (and others that hear about your efforts).. And Yeah!! to your mom for doing such good work and raising a great kid (my kids are your age so I can call you a kid) . I run a little non profit in Cary that does similar stuff. Keep up the great effort.
    Babs Wagner

  12. I live in Franklin County just north of Raleigh. I’ll be using your website and ideas to see if i can start my own First Step Project. Thanks and I will keep you posted.

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