Wayside Warriors – Olivia Chiacchia

Wayside Warriors – Olivia Chiacchia

Olivia Chiacchia, coordinator of STEPS Young Adult Resource Center

Meet Olivia Chiacchia, coordinator of STEPS Young Adult Resource Center in Arlington, which traditionally provides free, drop-in groups that help young adults ages 18-26 with socialization and one-on-one peer support. Five weeks ago, when COVID-19 forced us inside, Olivia moved her support groups online and even added a few new options to help the young adults she works with keep their social distance. Since then, Olivia’s Instagram Live groups have gained a global following. Read more about Virtual STEPS below and on Instagram by following @stepsyoungadults.

  • Why did you start Virtual groups?
    • I started Virtual STEPS to continue supporting our current members while we are social distancing. My Virtual STEPS catch phrase is “If STEPS can stay home, then so can you!” Part of the reason I’m doing Virtual STEPS from home is to model social distancing to the young adults I’m supporting!
  • What were your expectations?
    • I didn’t expect to have so many new members in the virtual program, especially global members! Virtual STEPS has definitely exceeded my expectations thus far and has reached young adults in Italy and Pakistan! We’ve had special themed walking groups like a “dance walk” where we all danced to music while walking and an international scavenger hunt in our respective neighborhoods and countries! It really makes you realize how small the world is, and how much we have in common despite our physical distance.
  • Which groups are the most popular?
    • The Walking Group and the Cooking Group on Instagram Live are the most popular so far!
  • What has surprised you most about Virtual STEPS?
    • I couldn’t believe it when people joined the group and said “salaam” and “ciao” and asked if they could join despite being located on different continents than STEPS. They have been able to share their culture and experience through the COVID-19 pandemic from another lens.
  • What is your favorite part about Virtual STEPS?
    • My favorite part is watching the young adults support each other through this challenging time. The young adults are what makes Virtual STEPS successful and a powerful resource to all.


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