Let’s Hear from Our 2016 Dream Vacation Winner!

2016 WinnerFirst, a huge thanks to Mike Murphy for his help. He was very easy to work with and eager and willing to help in any way possible.

I thought about many options but in the end chose to go on a trip my son and I had been dreaming about for years. My son Corbin McKinnon (who is blind and a member of The Next Stop) is very invested in his Celtic ancestry. He is an accomplished musician on bagpipes, loves other Celtic music, and enjoys the Gaelic language. He has already taken trips to his ancestral homeland in Scotland where he visited the graves of the last McKinnon clan in his line that lived there and also visited the graves of the ones who first came to the eastern part of North Carolina in the Laurinburg area.
But the one place we really wanted to experience the Celtic culture was where many Scottish and Irish people came to North America and where it has remained a mecca of Celtic culture…. Nova Scotia (particularly Cape Breton Island) and Prince Edward Island.   Last July we took a glorious trip and enjoyed lots of fabulous music, exquisite scenery, history, lobster, oysters and mussels to eat, boat/ferry rides, Anne of Green Gables history, a cidery and a distillery visit and most important, tons and tons of fun together.

Corbin McKinnon

One of our reasons for going was the music and a favorite part of the trip was the participation in lots of live musical events called “Ceilidhs”, the Gaelic word for impromptu party with lots of kinds of music, dancing and joking.  We went to a Celidh (pronounced “kay-lee”) almost every night.  Corbin even got to participate in some of them.  He also was able to play his bagpipes in places rich with Celtic tradition and culture.

It was an amazing blessing and celebrated an important transition in Corbin’s life so it was extra fun and wonderful.  We feel so fortunate to have finally made this trip and to carry and recall the memories with each other frequently. Thank you to The Next Stop for making it possible.

Beth Allgood Justice

Stormin’ the Field

As recipients of the December, 2014 Braves Foundation $1,000 grant, The Next Stop was highlighted at the Gwinnett Braves game on June 6th. We were told that we would be presented the “big check” on the field in between innings.

We were excited to do this….AND have our game attending members stand alongside founders Vicki and Stu. Apparently the check presenter did not feel the same way as she had to be mindful of the time constraint between innings. Right before we were to go onto the field, we were told that not all 16 members could follow us–only a couple could.

Lined up and ready to go on field

Well….all of a sudden it was time to go….and there was no stopping our members! After all, we had told them they should follow us and re-directing doesn’t happen very easily for them.

Stormin' the field

Even though our check presenter was saying under her breath “make them stop!”, we all got there and smiled for the camera and got off the field without any delay of game. Mission accomplished. Thank you Gwinnett Braves!

Perfect way to accept this generous gift--all together

Dancing the Night Away

When Andy Bedford, the Youth Pastor of The Bridge Church, approached The Next Stop about providing a formal dance for our members, we couldn’t have been more surprised or grateful.

As Andy and his team of church volunteers and teenagers planned, members of The Next Stop began to look forward to a fun and glamorous night out. The night of the dance couldn’t come soon enough and when it did, it was a hit! The decorations, food and music were all first class and everyone had a great time.

This kind and ambitious gesture was a great example of community service that made everyone happy–donors, hosts and guests! The Next Stop would like to express our sincere appreciation to The Bridge Church for this generous gift.

Went to the Super Bowl

From the mouth of a lucky teenager….

“I had just gotten home after school and golf practice one day and my dad who is usually a very happy person had a certain glow about him. He said that a while back one of his customers asked him to buy some of these raffle tickets which if his name was drawn he would win two tickets to the Super Bowl and some extra cash to go along with it. Well turns out he won–my dad won tickets to a game that every sports fan dreams of seeing at least once in their lifetime!

Once we arrived in Phoenix we were just wowed by the beauty of not only the city but its landscape and all the sights there were to see and all the Super Bowl activities and other festivities. We spent the entire day before that Sunday walking around to all the awesome games that were around.

The next day was definitely the best! We arrived way before the large crowds of people did at the hockey arena and walked around the area where they had tons of restaurants, football passing games, and at certain times live music. We had these really great tickets into the hockey arena which allowed us a private entry and a sort of indoors tailgating party with live music, NFL player and HOF player meet and greets, and even pool tables and football and darts, plus all the food you could eat. We had a wonderful time inside listening to the band Dan + Shay and even Little Big Town.

Once we left there we were heading to the game! I was so anxious to get inside and see what the stadium was like. We entered and I was incredibly shocked at how huge and jam packed full of people the stadium was. Even in the location that we were in the seats had a great view of the field and we didn’t miss a thing! The half time show was great as well and the stadium shot fireworks out of the roof! I’ve never seen something so entertaining and the best part was we got to watch the second half of one of the best ever Super Bowl finishes!

All in all I would have to say that the small investment you have to make for the raffle tickets is well worth it! Especially with all the great activities and events you get to see and do. I’ve never had as much fun in my life before until we got to go to the Super Bowl!”

Baylie Fowler

Going to the Super Bowl

How exciting it was to present our Super Bowl Raffle winner his prize—Two tickets to the Super Bowl and $2,500. Congratulations Jerry Fowler of Rutland, Georgia! Hope you and your son have a terrific time
in Arizona!

Board members Larry Larkins and Stu LaRoche present prize to raffle winner

Who Knew a Reptile Visit Would be so Fun?!

Knowing we had a group of interesting creatures coming to visit, we spent time with our members beforehand explaining how to handle any fear they might have. They certainly were welcome to stay in the back of the room, or at least not get near anything that made them uncomfortable.

Well, much to our surprise most of our members were VERY interested in touching and getting close to some very cool reptiles and “creepy crawlies”. Their curiosity was amazing….and quite impressive. We all learned a lot from our visiting teachers from Reigning Reptiles, a pet store in Buford.

This is a big bull frog!

Loving on the bearded dragon

This snake is sure making members smile

This member loves reptiles and is having the BEST time

Thanks Reigning Reptiles--we had a blast!

Around the World with The Next Stop

Our fourth annual family and friends fall event proved to be the biggest and best! Members of The Next Stop spent weeks preparing lasagnas and cookie bars to serve to our guests–all 250 of them. With a theme that opened up many possibilities, we enjoyed an Italian meal, listened to a Latin band, ate a variety of international desserts and best of all… members performed 3 different musical pieces from around the world.

One group played an African welcome song using many percussion instruments while others performed the welcome dance. Another group highlighted the talent of a member who plays the bagpipes to play a Scottish song–Loch Monde. While he played the pipes, others were backup with a variety of percussion instruments. The last group represented England and was led by members playing the guitar and keyboard….while others waltzed. This entire musical performance was choreographed and directed by our music therapist.

This truly was our members’ night. Lasagna and dessert prepared by them. Table flag decorations made by them. Australian Aboriginal art display painted by them. Musical performance performed by them. Members all put forth their best effort and that was especially appreciated by their audience of family and friends.

Good food, good friends

Performing Scottish musical piece

Part English piece performance

Guitarist for England's O Music, Sweet Music

Performing our African Welcome Dance

Some percussionists for African music

One of our Best Friends — Publix

Our local Publix (located at McGinnis Ferry and Peachtree Industrial in Suwanee) has supported The Next Stop in many ways over the last few years. Each year at our family and friends fall event, they make sure we have all the ingredients we need for the lasagna we prepare for over 200 people. They even send a crew of employees to serve the food to our guests–and even clean up!

This summer we asked for another form of help….and yes, they came through. During the summer, we offer a bowling day for our members on Fridays. Publix sent 5 volunteers each bowling day to help us staff this outing. Each employee who came to volunteer was encouraging, cheerful and attentive. We all loved making new friends–especially our members!

We want to thank store manager Dan Draves! He sets a terrific example of community service and we are so very grateful to him and to his employees!

The pink team enjoying each other

Half the fun of a good roll is the celebration

A strike creates 'double' high fives

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo at Annual Fundraiser

Our 8th annual golf tournament, dinner and wine event had a theme this year! Cinco de Mayo provided us the opportunity to incorporate a few new ideas to add to the festivities…such as….margaritas served along side the course, Mexican beer Tecate and Dos Equis on the cart, and fajitas for dinner. A great day of fundraising and fun!

'Margaritaville' - Thanks to our volunteer bartenders!

Guy and Jim play each year! Appreciate all our supporters!


'The Dos Equis Brothers' - Member and golfer become fast friends!