Big Vision With a Small Focus 5

Small Steps for Compassion Empowers People to Transform their Community in Usa River, Tanzania

In 2009, Shannin and Paul Pickle, along with their two children Corrinne and Ashton, took a trip to Tanzania, Africa to start Small Steps for Compassion. Small Steps for Compassion is an organization dedicated to empowering individuals to transform their community through compassionate action. Currently, this vision is being fulfilled through two channels: a girls home and a school.

Shannin says the girls home exists for truly orphaned and abandoned children. At the moment, Small Steps only has a home for girls, but they are open to starting one for boys as well. Corrinne, who’s also involved, says the verbiage Small Steps uses is different. It’s called a home because those living there are a family. Small Steps brings orphaned girls home and gives them everything a loving family has to offer. The hope is that this will enable them to positively impact their communities.

The home is run by local director, Juma Kitau. The Pickles met Kitau during their first trip to Tanzania. Shannin says he has been with them from the start and that they have developed a great relationship over the years. Kitau, Shannin and Paul have hired help at the home and there are currently 18 local people onboard, from the guard to the farmers. Everything the girls eat comes from the land surrounding the home. Corrinne says it’s important to the Small Steps team to partner with local people in a holistic way. She says it’s never been Small Steps’ vision to Westernize, or Americanize the community in Tanzania, but rather to train and empower locals while also going alongside their culture and values.

The school, which sits on two acres just next to the home, is called Steps Academy. Currently, there are about 25 local staff members, including a headmaster and 22 teachers. The education is based on an entrepreneurial teaching model. Shannin says Small Steps has already seen so much growth and empowerment in the teachers.

Shannin says it was a God-given vision to start the organization. She says she has a strong faith and that the vision was inspired by God and the way she was raised. She has always thought it important to love your community where you are, and that’s how she and Paul have raised their children as well. She says they had been doing this in San Clemente already, and it just made sense to expand the vision.

The Pickles have traveled extensively, and Shannin says the vision was also inspired by an orphanage they visited in Taiwan. After seeing a positive example of how a home could be run well, the desire to make the vision a reality grew. With the founding of Small Steps for Compassion, the vision was made a reality. It’s a family effort, with Shannin as President and Founder, Paul as Vice President, Corrinne as a director on the board, and Ashton and his wife, Blair as part of the team, too.

Since that first trip to Tanzania in 2009, the Pickles have added a fifth member to their family: Loveness Pickle, or Love for short. When asked where she was from, Love said San Clemente, with a giggle. Upon further investigation, it turns out she was born in Tanzania. Shannin says it was the first time Love responded with San Clemente when being asked where she’s from.

When Love was asked if she wanted to add anything about the organization, she cheered, “Go Small Steps!”

Recently Bear Coast Coffee held an event in partnership with Small Steps. Corrinne and Manager of Operations, Rachel Burns wanted to spread the word in the community. They thought Bear Coast would be the perfect venue to host a fun gathering where people could also be part of doing good. Owner of Bear Coast, Jeff Clinard was excited to host the event.

“It was incredible to see Jeff’s heart,” says Shannin, in regards to his excitement.

The event took place on August 16th, after hours at Bear Coast Coffee. Several local businesses and individuals, including Lost Winds, Stance, Mikoh, Positive Vibe Warriors and Kolohe Andino donated either drinks or products to be raffled off. The event was a huge success, raising over $4,000 for Small Steps. More importantly to the Pickle family was how excited people were to be part of the event.

“It made me realize how many people want to come together for something like this,” says Corrinne. “I love that we were able to do that.

For more information on the organization, visit