Next Step Ministries, a local nonprofit providing care for special needs adults, recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary and expanded its facilities, creating more room for participants to grow, learn and build confidence.

Next Step provides programs for moderately to profoundly developmentally delayed adults in Cherokee, Cobb and Fulton counties. Programs include a day program for people who need care daily, job skills, designed to provide clients with ongoing work experience interacting with the community as well as learning activities of daily living and a Saturday respite program.

These programs provide peace of mind for working parents while also building social skills and providing opportunities for participants to grow after they have transitioned out of high school.

The main office, at 7709 Turner Road in Woodstock, is equipped for profoundly developmentally delayed people with a full time registered nurse on site for tube feedings, medication, bathrooming and any other medical needs. The space has a sensory room for moments of tension, a kitchen for cooking or teaching skills, space for activities, an outdoor area with swings, a butterfly garden and a trail that leads to a prayer garden and wheelchair accessible tables.

The second location (which is actually the building the ministry was started in) at 3353 Trickum Road Suite 104, is equipped for mild to moderate disabilities and provides an environment of fun, learning and togetherness. The location was recently expanded to allow for more useful and meaningful space for clients.

Paige Reid, Program Director at Next Step, shared that before the expansion, they were all in one big room, causing an overwhelming situation. With the expansion, there are now separate rooms to meet different abilities and needs. Due to the large spectrum of needs, Reid said that they have created an application process that gets everyone on the same page when it comes to the client and their care.

“When we get the call from a parent, we first bring them in for a tour to make sure we are a good fit for their child. They then fill out the application which includes medical information and signatures from their doctors to make sure medically, everything is fine,” Reid said. “We then give the child a tier level which will decide which location they will be at, we meet with the parents and staff to discuss the client’s needs and abilities and discuss funding. Once everything is in order and everyone feels comfortable, the person can begin coming daily.”

Although this may seem like a lengthy process, Reid says that it ensures the likelihood of success for the client in their program. “If we don’t know how to best care for the client, how will they ever succeed here?”

Between their two locations, Next Step serves an average of 40 clients on a regular basis. Reid is hopeful that their next expansion will be their biggest yet: a three story building allowing them to triple their client count.

“(Lori Baker, founder and executive director) started this business with three clients,” Reid told the Tribune. “She saw a need and decided to fill it. We are now at a point where we regularly have a wait list and are finding ways to drastically expand to continue to meet the need.”

Next Step is a ministry first and a service provider second. Their mission is to improve the quality of life, not only for the individuals in their care, but also for their families and others who assist in their care. For more information or to get involved, visit www.nextstepministries.net or call 770 592-1227.

Born and raised in the Canton/ Woodstock area, a graduate of Reinhardt University and a lover of life.

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