The Alano Club of Santa Barbara has been helping local people with alcohol and other drug problems to resume an alcohol and drug free life since the early 1960s.  Our mission is to save lives “one day at a time” by providing a safe, clean, supportive and sober environment where recovering alcoholics, drug addicts and their families can work at changing their lives. The Club’s constituency includes teenagers, singles, couples, grandparents, the well-established and the homeless, the employed and the jobless, those referred by the court system and clients and graduates of recovery programs throughout the Santa Barbara Community.  The Alano Club’s doors are open 365 days a year, 13 hours a day as a home for more than 40 recovery meetings a week, as a place for sober social gatherings and recreational activities, for sponsors and sponsees to meet, and for holiday gatherings and the celebration of sobriety birthdays.  This holiday season, over 350 people gathered on Thanksgiving Day to enjoy a holiday meal prepared by volunteers, and more than 150 people rang in the New Year with a three day sober celebration.  Over 4,000 men and women of every age and every walk of life pass through our doorway each month on their way to a better life.

The Alano Club serves as a vital 12-Step meeting resource within the recovery network in the Santa Barbara community.  Some of the referring entities include the County’s Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Department, the court system, the for-profit and non-profit recovery houses, the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, the Salvation Army and the Mission.  There are other meetings in the community, however  these other meetings are held in churches, offices and at other non-profit organizations and limited to the one hour meeting time.  There is no other place in this community that is dedicated to housing 12-Step meetings and as a safe and sober refuge for recovering alcoholics and addicts open from 6 AM to 8 AM and then 10 AM to 10 PM seven days a week.  Often, the people who attend Recovery meetings at the Alano Club have no other place to go.  The Alano Club’s role in the recovery community has become especially important now as the County of Santa Barbara faces significant budgetary cuts for services in the departments of alcohol, drug and mental health.

The Alano Club has no paid staff, utilizing a bookkeeper and Non-Profit Support Center consultants for specific purposes.  All functions are performed by volunteers.  Daily volunteers work as a corps of Club Staff who are supervised by a board member.  They perform the daily maintenance duties around the Club, cleaning the facility and managing the Club’s Café, purchasing and maintaining inventory control of the supplies, collecting fees from the 12-Step meetings, and selling refreshments to the clientele.  Board members and committee chairs perform all other organizational duties.  The Club is exploring collaborative partnerships with other non-profit organizations such as the Mental Health Association and City Corps volunteers, and has partnered with Habitat for Humanity for a recent paint and spruce up project at the Club.

Building Purchase

In 2003, the community came together to purchase the building at 235 East Cota Street that has housed the Club for more than twenty years.  Until 2005, our only staff person had been a part time Club Manager, whose job was to ensure that the facility was open and prepared for meetings.  The purchase of the Club building in 2003 led to the hiring of a full-time Executive Director to oversee complex issues relating to a lot split with the Mental Health Association, parking issues, and design of a capital campaign to initiate extensive renovation, along with planning for the renovation itself.  Due to staff and volunteers’ tremendous dedication and determination, we were able to successfully complete the extensive negotiations with the Mental Health Association of Santa Barbara and the City of Santa Barbara to effect the lot split that was necessary to finalize purchase of the building.  The capital campaign raised over $525,000 which enabled us to renovate two fully accessible restrooms in 2006, as well as to establish a building maintenance fund, and to pay legal fees for the building acquisition and lot split.

Renovation Plan

In 2007, the Club hired Vadim Hsu, AIA to design the complete renovation of the building.  Master construction plans were approved by the ABR in March 2008.  Complete plans are now in process.  Community Town Hall meetings were held to solicit input from Club members about renovation needs.  The renovation will include major structural repair and replacement, upgrade of accessibility, plumbing and electrical systems to meet code requirements, and the addition of acoustical, heating and ventilation systems.  We plan to have a catering kitchen and café, a child care room, a library, volunteer work areas, and five meeting rooms.  Anticipated events include weekly movie nights, monthly sober dances and picnics, as well as our established Thanksgiving Dinner, Memorial Day and Labor Day picnics.