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Birmingham - February 2023


As I was beginning to write this article for February’s issue, I stopped to listen to a piece on CBS Sunday Morning. The story was called, “Friendships, the Key to Happiness.” The program began by asking, “What does happiness look like?” Is it the accumulation of wealth, fame, good looks or something altogether different?


According to Harvard researcher, Dr. Robert Waldinger, leader of the longest ongoing study for adult development – happiness comes from meaningful human connections. For over 80 years, with thousands of participants and file cabinets full of research, the evidence is pretty overwhelming. Simply defined, relationships matter.


Dr. Waldinger highlighted the results of this comprehensive study. People who are more socially connected to friends, family and community, are happier, healthier and live longer. And interestingly, meaningful relationships don’t just protect our bodies by nourishing our emotional well-being, but they also protect our brains. People who are more isolated than they want to be, are at risk of experiencing more cognitive decline than others.


As we grow older, it may seem harder to make those connections but Next is the ideal place to find that sense of community. We pride ourselves on our expansive life-long learning opportunities, but we offer many ways to meet new friends, gather and socialize. With over 250 activities offered each month, there are plenty of ways to get involved and become engaged. Weekly men’s and women’s coffee groups, the Friday Current Events Roundtable, book clubs, entertainment, card games, chess, and Mah Jongg - along with day trips, celebrations and meals to share, there are ample opportunities to develop new friendships. Meaningful relationships happen when there is a sense of belonging and shared experiences – just what Next is all about.


Along with the many ways to socialize, February brings with it a lot of exciting programs.


On Thursday, February 16 at 6 p.m. the one and only John U. Bacon will stop by. You may know him as a best-selling author or as a writer for the Wall Street Journal or as commentator for ESPN and the Big Ten Network. Nationally known, he’s coming to Next and we couldn’t be more excited.


On February 23 at 2 p.m. we reminisce about the radio station we all grew up with, CKLW. If you grew up in the Detroit area in the ‘50s and 60s, you’re going to love this stroll down THE BIG 8 memory lane.


And very timely, on February 23 at 6 p.m., Wayne State Associate Professor Aaron Retish, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., will present Russia’s War on Ukraine, One Year On. Professor Retish will share his expertise and perspectives on the war and talk about what has become the largest land war in Europe since WWII.


Next, your 50+ Community Center is just that, a community. Please stop in to Next and experience our warm and welcoming center – it’s very likely you will find that next new friend! We are located at 2121 Midvale, Birmingham. Our website, BirminghamNext.org has a full calendar of activities and the services we provide.


Cris Braun is Executive Director of Birmingham Next




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