Mary discovered that Community is the Key. Donate today!

Mary, a mother of a Next Step participant discovered that Community is the Key and asks you to donate to Next Step and help unlock potential of youth like her daughter.

Read her story:

My daughter was 6 weeks old at a routine check-up when I was told she had sickle cell disease. At the time, I also learned that I carried sickle cell trait. I had heard of sickle cell disease but did not know much about the illness. I only knew it could be very painful.

Before her first birthday, I had my first taste of what a sickle cell crisis would be like for my daughter. Only as a new mom, I didn’t know what to look for. She was crying so hard and I thought she was hungry or teething – it was not until I brought her to the hospital that I learned she was having a pain crisis caused by her sickle cell diagnosis.

These kids want to be like other kids that don’t have sickle cell. They don’t want to be in a box. They want to be part of “the group”. High school is such a critical time in their lives for socializing and developing independence but my daughter misses 20-30 days each year to manage the pain she often faces. Next Step’s after school homework support and mentoring program is designed to address the issues faced by teens, like my daughter. At Next Step they not only get support around their academics but they connect with peers and talk about what really matters to them.

Fourteen years ago, I had no idea how important the Next Step community would be for my daughter and me. In this program, these youth become so free around their peers and they learn to start speaking up for themselves in other parts of their life. Now my daughter has a community of young people that are all going through the same stuff, so they can relate and support her in ways I, as a parent, cannot.

She has become more accountable to her Next Step community because it is so valuable to her. A few weeks ago my daughter couldn’t attend the program because of a doctor’s appointment. At the hospital, she told me she wanted to give a shout-out to her friends and the staff at Next Step to let everyone know that she was OK and would be there if she could. I am so proud to see my daughter maturing as she considers her own life and what is possible for her future – that is Next Step.

Next Step cannot do this work alone. I welcome you to be a part of the life-changing Next Step community and help unlock the potential of some beautiful and deserving young people. PLEASE DONATE to the 2017 NEXT STEP ANNUAL APPEAL, COMMUNITY IS THE KEY and help this wonderful organization reach their goal this holiday season of $45,000.

Happy Holidays and a heartfelt thank you to all of you.

With warm regards,


Stay in touch! Sign up for news and updates.