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June 2023

Sometimes you wanna go

Where everybody knows your name

And they're always glad you came.

You wanna be where you can see

Our troubles are all the same.

You wanna be where everybody

Knows your name. ♫♫



If you remember TV shows in the 80’s, then you probably couldn’t help but sing those lines instead of reading them. That chorus, of course, is from the long running TV show “Cheers”. I have jokingly closed our New Member Coffee presentations for years with the line — Next is like Cheers, where everyone knows your name and they are glad you came. Recently a new member, someone who has not had a chance to attend a New Member Coffee, said those exact words back to me. It was then that I realized those words are more than a catchy theme song: the words ring true at Next.


Coming in as a novice Pickleball player, this new member commented on how he felt welcomed in spite of his unfamiliarity with the sport. More experienced players showed him the ins and outs of Pickleball, giving him instruction and helpful tips. His game has improved but more importantly, he really looks forward to coming to Next because of the camaraderie.


Today, I looked into the gym to see 25 players lined up on the sideline waiting for their turn to play on the one court we have. Yes, we are working to relocate to a space better suited to our growing needs. But in the meantime, we are forging forward with so many opportunities to create meaningful, healthy connections. Too many players courtside isn’t ideal, but you would never know from the laughter and lighthearted fun drifting out from the gym into the hallways of Next.


When the United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was recently asked what is the leading disease affecting Americans today, he answered immediately, “It’s not cancer. . . not heart disease. It’s isolation. Ironically enough, while we’re living in the most technologically networked and interconnected period in history, we are feeling more isolated than ever. In this environment, human-to-human interaction is essential to your health.”


Next aims to educate, enlighten and engage. Where else can you find all that Next has to offer under one roof? In May and June, there are over 230 events each month including 32 guest speakers ranging from experts on Latin America, our regional focus this program cycle, along with many others highly credentialed presenters. Next will host six entertainment events, including a Bossa Nova Brazilian concert and Tango performance; important health concerns will be addressed by Henry Ford Health, our partner in Health and Wellness; new art classes; on-going fitness programs; shared meals; local travel; and so many ways to enjoy and relax. All this is added to our regular, recurring monthly programming.

Immerse yourself in what’s Next. Now is the time to join us – where everybody knows your name, and they are always glad you came! www.BirminghamNext.org.


Cris Braun is Executive Director of Birmingham Next

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