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I was done drinking. I was done feeling like crap in the morning, physically from the hangovers but mostly from the shame. When I moved back to Santa Barbara I had already been sober 8 months. But I had no idea what to do socially that didn’t involve drinking. My weekends were either going to the bar with my friends, watching them get plastered and then offering them rides home, or staying home alone watching TV. Giving up alcohol seemed like the end of fun
I came in to the Alano Club on what felt like a dare. At the 5:30 Sundowner’s meeting, which meets 7 evenings a week, there were people laughing. People smiling. People telling stories about how good their lives were going. I wondered if all of these people were crazy. But there were people in there that remembered my name when I came in, people who smiled like they were happy to see me and I got a lot of hugs.
Then one day I met a guy named Ricardo. He said I should come to a punk rock show with him. I hadn’t been to a punk rock show in well over 20 years. I couldn’t imagine going to a bar and listening to music could be any fun without alcohol. I’m sure I declined the first 10 or 15 times he asked me, but he was persistent. There was a group of five or six people that we’re going often. So one day just to get him off my back, I agreed to go.
I had a really good time. I started going regularly with this group of people to listen to music sober. I went camping with a bunch of sober people. I started going with other people after the meeting to have dinner, and talk about the solution they had found to their unhappy and unmanageable lives. Pretty soon I noticed we were always the loudest table in the room, because of our laughter.
When I came into the Alano Club I was renting a room from a friend and all of my possessions fit in a duffel bag. My life is much different today. I own my own home, I travel, I am of service, I have a close relationship with my children and a pack of grand kids.
I still volunteer at the Alano Club and hang out there often. Partially because I really enjoy seeing my friends and making new ones. But just as important I realize that the Alano Club is a treasure in this town that I want to see thrive. There’s no greater thrill in life for me than watching an addict who is completely hopeless, some as young as 17, come in and hear the solution, do the work and watch their lives flourish.
The Alano Club of Santa Barbara holds a very special and personal place in my heart for many reasons. I first came to the Alano Club in the 1980s when I found myself desperate to learn a new way of living. I attended recovery meetings at the Club and those meetings saved my life.
Ten years later, my father was the guest speaker from Van Nuys at the Sunday Night Speaker Meeting. My two sisters and I gave him his 35 year cake that night and we heard his story for the first time.
Most significantly though, 3 years ago I brought my combat Veteran son to meetings at the Club in an effort to help him with his self-medicating for P.T.S.D. suffered as a result of serving in Iraq. We weren’t able to save my son, but my hope is that we will be able to expand our Club meetings to serve the Veterans in our community who so desperately deserve our help.
My service on the Alano Club Board is driven by my passion to serve the Recovery Community. I am humbled daily as I seek to do all that is within my talents and abilities to serve our membership, those who hold meetings here and anyone who walks through our doors seeking assistance.
My sincere desire is to see the Club stay open into perpetuity; so that anyone who reaches out for help will be greeted by a smile, a warm handshake and a feeling of welcome. I love watching people change their lives in order to become the special, beautiful and amazing individuals they are meant to be. This is by far the greatest gift the Alano Club of Santa Barbara has to offer.
“I am honored and grateful to have been asked to share what the club has done for my family and me. From the beginning of my recovery, the club has always been part of my journey to sobriety.
Thankfully, the club was founded in 1963, and in 1964, I attended my first meeting and also became a member. I relapsed twice in the next five years, the club was there in 1969 when I walked through the door and began my new, happy, joyous, and free life.
It was the AA meetings, functions, dances, dinners we put together, and being a bingo caller that kept me busy. Most of the relationships and fellowships were created around the pool table and hanging out together after meetings that
made me realize what a sober life was all about. Thanks to my first sponsor, the manager of the club, who made it possible to call him at almost any time I needed help.
I have been a board member 6-7 times also during the transition from the old club to where it is to today. I was one of the persons that created the lease option contract from Mr. Gene. We got it painted, cleaned, and ready to go.
Years later, we executed a lease with option to buy and now it is all ours. My goal is to pay off and burn the mortgage so it will be here for all of us and for future alcoholics and addicts to achieve sobriety.
May God bless us all and with his help and our efforts (as a whole) the Alano Club will live forever. Remember not the Alamo but the Alano Club.”
“The Alano Club is a place that I started coming to in 1983, on a court card. I did over 1,000 meetings there in one year, every morning, noon, and evening! I hated AA and the Club. That’s because I was not a part of and did not want to be a part of. That was my disease talking to me.
When I got sober in 2003, I met my sponsor at the Club and started doing the program and found the Club to be a very safe place to go and to meet others just like me. Our program states that we are like people who normally wouldn’t mix. That is so true at the Club also. I fell in love with the Club after I was invited to join their Board of Directors in 2007! I saw then and still feel very strongly that this Club must stay open! This is a place where healing takes place. It allows the newcomer to learn about fellowship and the program, and gives people a safe place to be. I know for a fact that many families are still together, many people still maintain their sobriety, and that Santa Barbara is a safer place because of the Alano Club.
If I ever need to remember “what it’s like out there” all I need to do is come to the Club and look for the newcomer who is coming in off the street of alcoholism. That helps keep me in my seat and staying sober!!!!!”
I remember when my outlook first changed and I finally realized that it was the way I looked or didn’t look at things that were getting in my way. I felt like I had a “wax on wax off” moment, it was spiritual. I was living under the bridge, and I came across a feather. Upon first glance it looked like a dirty bird’s feather. I kept looking at it, thinking about it, when I saw how sad and beautiful it actually was. I thought about where it had flown, over the land and sea. Had children played with it? Where was the bird now?
For twenty years I dealt with everything aggressively I was full of rage. Back then I thought that being passive meant that I wasn’t going to get what I wanted or get my way. For example, back then I was on the methadone program and one day the Director called me into his office. He tells me he has to kick me off the program. I flew into a rage, I went into the screw it all mode. I ended up handcuffed, on my way to jail. I calmed down and heard the doctor say “Jimmy just sign this paper and you won’t have to go to jail” I signed and went to the Psych ward for three weeks.
Because of this program I have changed. It’s been almost thirty years now. When I look at things, I sort of double take. I studied the ministry and AA, I found that most people live in their own reality. Some look at me like I’m egotistical, but I only speak on what I know. My mindset is that I look at all sides. What I can honestly say is I’d rather be passive