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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Next Step Fund, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Centers to Support the Independence of Specific Populations

Mission: To shatter limitations and elevate aspirations of teens and young adults impacted by cancer and life threatening blood diseases.

Results: Next Step has served over 3,000 deserving young people at retreats and educational workshops across the country.

Target demographics: Teenagers and young adults with cancer, HIV and sickle cell disease in New England and beyond.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 350 beneficiaries per year

Geographic areas served: New England, National

Programs: Strive for teens and young adutls with Sickle Cell, One Love for teens and young adults living with HIV, Face2Face for teens and young adults with cancer and Family for our young adults who are care dependent.

Community Stories

38 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Sarah50

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended the Face Forward program through Next Step for the first time last summer. I have Mitochondrial Disease which is a progressive energy metabolism disorder that causes multiple organ failure. I was a little hesitant when I first got to the camp, but it was probably one of the best weeks of my life. I met so many amazing kids and after just 4 days it felt like we had known each other for a year. The staff were all so kind and awesome and the environment was incredible, very supportive, encouraging and positive. I love that there is a camp where I could go even with all my medical needs and one where all the other kids understand what it's like to live with a disease that changes your life and still keep on going and living a happy life. I made good friends who I am in regular touch with. Overall it was incredible and I am counting down till the next summer session! Face Forward gets me through the hard times!

Peg C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been associated with Next Step since it’s beginning. My daughter, Emily was one of it’s very first members, and actually attended the first retreat on Thompson Island back in June 2004. Em was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 12. She attended an incredible camp which gave her love, support and understanding like no other. When she aged out, we tried in vein to find a place for her. That was a useless, frustrating endeavor. Then wonderful Bill Kubicek founded Next Step. She was no longer alone. Next Step gave her a community when there wasn’t one. Next Step gave her the love, support and understanding she needed. Next Step, with Bill and his wonderful staff, opened another world for her, and for us. Our beautiful Emily lost her battle with her brain tumor, and passed away almost 3 years ago, but Em’s spirit will always be with Next Step. We want to share her story, so you will know how very important Next Step was to Em, and still continues to be for other young adults who are struggling and feeling very much alone.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Next Step is one of the best program my daughter ever participated. We have learned so much in their two-day program. I sincerely hope that we can join its program again in the future. Thanks so much! You are the ONE!!

Daniel Szeto
Weston, MA

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was diagnosed at 28 with acute leukemia. At that time I knew literally no-one of my age who had been diagnosed with cancer. I attended a Next Step event a couple of years after my diagnosis and it was of tremendous help to me. Sharing experiences and stories with others in a similar situation was priceless to me. I still have friends from the event and am so very and fortunate that I attended !

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Kathy and I have been diagnosed with three different cancers at young age. Next step included me in their young survivors group and the expereince is truly an expereince I will never forget. relationships and friends are made and these are the kind of programs that truly need to continue to be funded. Thnak you Next Step for stepping up. kathy

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a brain tumor survivor of 10 years and I had the wonderful opportunity to go to a young adult survivors retreat held by next step and had a chance to meet other survivors as well as others who are still in treatment. This was my first time attending any cancer related retreat and I truly benefited from it. I made life long friendships and got the chance to understand what life is for other survivors. I look forward to attending Next Step events in the future. The staff members are amazing and made my experince unforgettable.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My husband and I had the pleasure of attending the NextStep/Livestrong Cancer Couples Retreat in New Orleans this past November. This retreat really helped us in understanding the difficulty of each others roles during his cancer treatment. Being the caregiver I was especially relieved to have been able to meet other caregivers as well and to be able to express the difficulties in having this role freely. I also learned a lot about what my husband was going through as well. This really strengthened our marriage and helped us become stronger as whole. Being around other couples that had similar experiences was great as well. There was this certain camaraderie that was pretty unique and strengthening. To have been around couples that actually do know what you went through was a relief. This retreat was such an amazing experience.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is John Thorne and I live in Carver MA At the age of 11 I was diagnoised with a cancerous brain tumor. I had the chance to go to the next step program and learn about the wonderful work they do for diaabled people. I was able to go to CT thru the next step and meet surviors of different kinds of sickness. Being with next step people helped me forget my sickness and have fun doing outdoor activities like rock climbing zip line and walking and sitting around a fire and telling about each other progress I always have fun being with the next step people and the staff. Long live next step because they help people above and beyond the call of duty.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have known Next Step's founder, Bill Kubicek, for more than 20 years. We first met him at Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, where he was the assistant camp director. Bill started his own program to serve the needs of young cancer survivors as they aged out of the camp program, the "Next Step" in their lives. We feel blessed to know Bill and the wonderful staff at his programs. He is a big part of our lives. My daughter is a brain tumor survivor since 1982. We look forward to the Next Step weekends to learn from other patients and caregivers, and to just have fun! Kara's Mom

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hi, my name is Paul and I have three children with Sanfilippo Syndrome.
We had the honor of being guests at one of Bill's weekend retreats. Immediately we felt part of the group. Often when we go places we feel judged but as a part of this community we felt the love and caring from Bill and his volunteers.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Teri, and I am the 10th woman on my mother's side of the family to develop breast cancer. I was 31 years-old at the time of my diagnosis, which is the same age my mother was when she died of the disease. We are a BRCA1 family, and this seems to be my heritage.

Before the diagnosis, I was working full-time as a teacher and caring for my daughter who was 9 months-old at diagnosis and my husband. We had recently purchased a new home and were making the place our own when we got the news.

It became nearly impossible trying to raise a daughter, nurture a marriage, undergo drastic treatment and surgery, and work full time.

I eventually went on disability, so that I could finish chemotherapy, and I struggled to keep up with the rest of my responsibilities.

While there was much joy during that time of my life, there was also much hardship. In particular, marriage was difficult. My husband fell apart, and in some ways, I felt like a single mother raising our daughter.

It's funny: no one tells you how hard a cancer diagnosis will be on your marriage. I mean, when I went to support groups for breast cancer, the women were post-menopausal, if they had children, the children were grown and out of the house, and if they were married, the husband was usually retired and able to concentrate on helping the wife sustain treatment.

Not me. I was an anomoly.

That's when I heard of Next Step. They were planning a couples retreat through Planet Cancer. It was a retreat where a person could rebuild a relationship in the face of cancer.

It's funny because of course the marriage needs help. Both partners are given this diagnosis; it wasn't just me.

During that weekend, we met other couples who were struggling like us. We engaged in various activities, and we normalized our situation. We weren't alone. We weren't the only ones dealing with such issues.

I am really glad that I went to the retreat with my husband. It was a turning point for us, and now we are building a wonderful relationship--one that is better than before cancer.

Thanks for your powerful intervention. I hope you can continue to offer your services to others in need.

Sincerely,
Teri Fuller

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a young adult cancer survivor & have been blessed to have attended 2 Next Step retreats. The 1st one was for young adult cancer survivors only. I cannot say enough about this retreat. There were 25 of us, with different cancers, different stages of treatment/survivorship & to be able to share a whole weekend with people who understood was…priceless. We could talk about what we went through, were going through & how we truly felt about it. We didn’t have to “be strong” & act like everything was great. We also didn’t have talk about cancer at all & still knew what the other was going through & feeling. Every emotion out there; happiness, sorrow, grief, guilt, hopefulness, helplessness…..etc. I have made friends for life! We all stay connected through different social networks & encourage & inspire each other daily. No one can understand what we’ve been through, except those, our own age, that have been through it themselves. It was a much needed self healing & self renewing weekend for all of us. The 2nd retreat was a couple’s retreat for young adult survivor & their partner in LA. This was exactly what my husband & I needed. To be able to get away from it all & spend it with other couple’s that knew the struggles & strain cancer can put on a relationship. To be able to relate with other couples that have been through what we had been through & to hang out with them was so amazing. We have good friends that we hang out with, but it is not the same, especially for the caregiver. I was so happy my husband had the opportunity to meet other caregivers/spouses & be able to talk with them, bond with them & form friendships with them. For us to able to do this as a couple really brought us closer together. It gave both of us an outlet to talk, vent & share with others & it gave us time to just be together. Not have to worry about money, debt, fertility & most importantly Cancer. I cannot say enough about the Next Step retreats & how they have truly changed my life for the better. The staff & volunteers are so great! They are very kind & helpful but they are more than that, they are passionate about what they do & very genuine. They welcome us all into their lives with their arms & hearts wide open, no hesitation, no feeling sorry for us or making us feel like we’re less than we are. They are there to help us shine, help us grow, help us live again & show us, through their actions, that helping others is a key to happiness! I love them, I thank them & I would hug them all right now if I could!

Review from Guidestar

Erica

Client Served

Rating: 5

Next Step is an incredible organization that provides retreats and services to young people with cancer. I attended a weekend retreat as well as receiving local wellness services. The organization and the staff are all incredible. I was given what I didn't know I needed but they clearly anticipated.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Next Step fosters a sense of community bound by compassion and understanding crucial to those of us anesthetized by unspoken fear. As a young adult participant in a cancer retreat in 2010, I was newly diagnosed and awakened to the strength in others and then myself. That inspiration from other survivors and The Next Step staff was quite powerful. To support The Next Step is to support the core of humanity, those of us who were/are vulnerable. Their prosperous program growth and partnerships over the years is evidence of their commitment to others where there is an absence of direct, meaningful service. I am proud to have experienced the retreat where I formed meaningful connections of friendship.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our daughter Emily as there at the beginning of Next Step, so we feel more than qualified to tell you just how very important Next Step is. When Emily aged out of her beloved camp, she needed a group, a place where she could find the support of her peers. Em’s brain tumor left her with significant permanent disabilities and medical problems. She was struggling and socially isolated. Our search for a support group was a difficult endeavor. At one group we attended, Em was the youngest there by at least 40 years. We realized there were limited programs for young adults survivors of serious illness. When Emily joined Next Step, she found support, friendship and community. It was also a great comfort to us, her caretakers. Through Next Step, we were able to access resources, and network to other young adult programs. Next Step was extremely important in Em’s life until she passed away a little over a year ago. It is vital that Next Step receives the financial support and attention it deserves so it can continue to reach out and help the many young adult survivors out there who feel very much alone.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went with my disabled daughter to a retreat weekend. I can say that these weekends are most important social events in her life. She is able to get together with people who have and are overcoming the same issues in their lives. But the most important thing for her is that she gets to play. Even though she can't climb, she can still zip and feels included. For my part, I get a break too. I don't have to prepare and clean up after every meal or activity. I get a chance to play, too. And there is little out there for caregivers.

Next Step gives us a change to pace and a time to be happy.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was my first and only retreat after finishing the cancer treatment. Having gone through this illness at this young age, kind of left me alone from my normal world and at this retreat I found that I am a part of this world too, there are people who have been through or going through what I have been through. I found my second family there. Very empowering, compassionate and stress free retreat it was. Great work done by all of them. Thank you so much and wish you all the best.

Review from Guidestar

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been to several Next Step weekend retreats for young adult survivors and their caregivers. These weekends are an unmatched experience because no other organization in our area provides this type of service to this population. They are restful, fun, and empowering, and are an amazing opportunity for fellowship w/ others who 'walk the walk'. Seeing someone who is wheelchair bound be team lifted to the top of a climbing wall is a priceless experience for all involved. Then. to watch them break into a full smile as they descend a zipline is the icing on the cake.
The ice breakers, fun and creative games, and singalongs, encompass everyone's needs regardless of their challenges. This is not an easy thing to pull off, and Next Step does it VERY well. You leave the weekend feeling renewed, loved, and cared for.

Review from Guidestar

Brenda L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The perfect place to meet people with your same condition, very friendly place to be when it seem that the world is coming down on you, very helpful and the people in charge are the best, i really enjoy my self. So many topics where covered , you will walk away with a lot of information, i really didn't want to walk away but got to let others enjoy too. Good luck with all.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to a retreat they did in partnership with Planet Cancer. I was newly diagnosed and lost and they introduced me to a group of patients and survivors who have become good friends. They created a supportive, informative environment which allowed me to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Review from Guidestar