In October, Next Step turned 20 years old. I find it hard to believe, but then I think back to the early years: working “at the office” (otherwise known as my kitchen table) with my dogs at my feet as I wrote our next grant proposal; scrambling to secure the next opportunity that would pay for a Next Step program; hosting our board meetings in small apartments. I remember the ideas, logos, and numbers written on napkins; and of course, the community that believed in us and supported our mission.
Community is the unwavering foundation of Next Step and every group, music and mentorship program we deliver. It empowers young people living with cancer, HIV and rare genetic disorders to imagine their brightest future and fullest life. Next Step is a safe space made up of peers who “get it,” which allows these young people to share their story, take risks and fail safely, build meaningful relationships, and realize that they are so much more than their disease.
You’ve shown us that the most important thing we can do is to keep showing up for the young people we serve. The pandemic made this message clearer than ever before: community is critical. And you were there to back us up. Thanks to you, we were able to continue to provide life-changing opportunities for young people like Alex:
“I lived an insular life before Next Step. But at a Next Step, I met and learned to socialize with people different from me. I found a safe community to share things that hurt me, showed my underbelly, and learned how to stand up for myself.”
-Alex, age 25
There is still uncertainty and challenge ahead for all of us. But with dogs still curled up at our feet and your belief in our mission, I am confident that we can broaden our reach to even more youth living with cancer, HIV and rare genetic disorders. You can shape a young person’s life with community, connection and opportunity.
Please donate to Next Step this December. Thank you for believing in the power and potential of young people with serious illness.
Executive Director and Founder, Next Step
P.S. We can’t do this work without you. You can provide hope for young people living with serious illness.