Self-Description - Humble
Her Inner Light - “My kids and my grandkids who are so precious."
Her message to women everywhere - “Be honest and speak your truth. If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything. Don’t be afraid to be who you are.”
A self-described navy brat who grew up all over, Cassandra Steptoe is a a PTSD survivor, a stage performer, a mother of three and grandmother of nine, a child development expert, a recovering addict seventeen years clean and sober, and a woman’s advocate.
Cassandra raises two grandchildren. During the day while her grandchildren are in school, Cassandra also takes care of children from other families. One toddler in her care comes from a young mother recovering from drug addiction while another comes from a single mother working to make ends meet. Cassandra accepts a nominal fee from these struggling mothers, far below the going rate for a caregiver. Having come down a similar rough road herself, Cassandra lovingly nurtures these children. She cooks for them, takes them to the park, cuddles them to sleep. “We do all the small things together, like stop to smell the flowers and take those first steps. For me, there is so much joy in this work because I didn’t get to care for my own kids like this. I missed it all with them because I was the one in recovery, the one trying to get my life together.”
Growing up a child victim of sexual and emotional abuse, Cassandra became addicted to drugs, which led her to prostitution followed by incarceration followed by becoming HIV+. For the first forty years of her life, Cassandra lived in darkness and shame. She found a will to get clean and turned her life around. Today she has her health, her recovery, her church, and her children. Cassandra says, “I am enough for myself because I know who I am.
Now that she has found her way, she wants to give women a voice. She wants to offer a safe place where women can gather and find their courage. She speaks openly about her redemption story so that women with similar struggles don’t have to live in fear or secrecy. Working with the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, Cassandra performs her story on stage in hopes of empowering women everywhere.
“I was given a second chance at a first class life,” Cassandra says. “I’m still here. I get to spend my days with children. I don’t take any part of it for granted."