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LARSON: For some, success never stops

Susan Larson

Susan Larson

I love keeping up with all the wonderful people that I feature in my column, especially those who are performing a service to the community.

A few month ago I mentioned Tom Kincaid’s website www.volunteergwinnett.com where anyone anywhere in the county can post volunteer opportunities or outreach. Needs vary from foster homes for dogs to new voices for the Gwinnett Choral Guild.. Offers include free classroom space for non-profits at St. Leo University in Duluth to free disaster preparedness training from the Gwinnett Community Emergency Response Team.

In 2010, I wrote about Trail Dames, founded by Duluth resident Anna Huthmaker who just wanted to take a hike.

“In 2003, I attempted to hike the Appalachian Trail,” Huthmaker said. “I took six months off from work, hiked 700 miles, broke my foot, and met more amazing people than I ever dreamed.”

But she said one thing really bothered her, and it wasn’t the broken foot.

“I was the only overweight woman out there!”

She discovered that many women “of a curvy nature” would love to hike, but feel self- conscious and are afraid of being too slow to be part of a group. So in the spring of 2007, Trail Dames was born. They now have ten chapters covering ground from Louisiana to Maine. Membership is open to all women, curvy or not. (www.traildames.com)

That same year Stu and Vicki LaRoche founded The Next Stop, where adults with special needs can gather with peers and mentors to grow and move forward in their lives. Since then they’ve grown sixfold, filling their quarters at Suwanee Sports Academy to capacity. There’s no stop to community support including volunteers from Siemens, occupational therapy students from Brenau University and generous grants from Jackson EMC Foundation, The Enterline Foundation and the Scott Hudgens Family Foundation.

Their next event, Watch Us Grow, will be their annual dinner and music event on October 11, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Members will be preparing a lasagna dinner complete with dessert while Paul Sanner and Daniel and Brennan Warren provide the music. This is not a fundraiser but an opportunity for the community to see how The Next Stop serves their population at each stop along the way, as well as all the steps in between. (www.thenextstop.org )

Twice I wrote about my encounters with local poet Kodac Harrison, whom I met while judging a poetry interpretation contest at Parkview. We also participated together in several other Gwinnett writing events. I just happened to get an e-mail from Kodac last week announcing the publication of his latest book from Poetry Atlanta Press, “The Turtle and the Moon.” The book includes 40 years worth of his poems and songs along with some of his paintings.

If I may steal a phrase from the LaRoches, I love being able to follow my column crowd to the various “next stops” in their lives.

Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at susanlarson79@gmail.com.