In the early 1940’s Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was growing at a rate unparalleled by any organization. Meetings were held in members homes and church basements. With limited meeting space many could only find a meeting or two each week. Members clamored for more opportunities. Some suggested AA purchase their own building so meetings could be held daily. In 1940 AA had taken the position that they would have no financial holdings “…lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose”. The trusted servants of AA pondered the situation and came up with a compromise. The concept of Alano was formed. 70 years have passed and many Alano Clubs have adapted to changing times. The question today is simple, what is the mission, the central responsibility, of Alano?
The word Alano comes from an acronym representing ALcoholics ANOnonymous. The essential compromise was this: Individual groups, or groups of individuals, would be allowed to purchase property and AA would agree to rent rooms for meetings. Every Alano Club was to be chartered as an independent not-for-profit charitable organization in their respective State. Every Alano Club would have a central mission of support for AA. When Alanon was formed by Lois W. the Alano Clubs expanded their mission to include the “AA Family Groups”. These groups had no direct affiliation with AA – other than a common interest in fighting the disease of Alcoholism. Alano established an early tradition of support to 12 Step programs beyond AA.
Alano recognizes the three legacies of AA: Recovery, Unity, and Service. These are guiding principles. 12 Step Programs rent rooms at Alano, providing the essential ingredient of recovery – the opportunity to meet together. Clubs such as the Alano of St. Joseph foster unity between AA, NA, and GA. The very nature of the “Club” is that of Service – a critical legacy. Without service to others no 12 Step Program can survive.
12 Step Programs blossomed. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) was freely granted use of the AA 12 Steps in 1952. Gamblers Anonymous (GA) followed in 1956. Today there as many as 200 12 Step Programs operating around the world. In 2002 the Alano Club of St. Joseph, Missouri, updated their State Charter to include support for all 12 Step Programs. Presently the Alano Club of St. Joseph rents space to AA, NA, Al-Anon, and GA. All social activities welcome all 12 Step Programs.
We can easily see that the mission of Alano has adapted to changing times. The one thing that has never changed is the concept of Alano existing as a support system – Alano does not exist in a vacuum – Alano’s purpose is to support others – Alano does not stand alone. The name itself, Al ANO, was derived from the grandfather of all 12 Step Programs – Alcoholics Anonymous. Alano exists to foster and support the three legacies.
As Alano continues to evolve and change with new medical, psychological, social, religious, and legal changes to our world we risk losing sight of our original mission – the support of 12 Step Programs and their members.
An important word was attached in the 1940’s – that word is Club, as in Alano Club. Wise people in Alano “Clubs” managed by retaining their mission as a support system to 12 Step Programs and ordered their Club in a manner that allowed the Club to be a financial support system. Other Alano Clubs over the years lost sight of their mission, the support of 12 Step Programs, and focused on the socializing concept of the “Club”. Those “Clubs” faced a whole host of organizational problems.
Some organizations focused on the social aspect of their Club. Some had pool tables and game rooms and snack bars. Successful Clubs recognized the need for socialization, but were wise enough to keep their focus, all activities had to conform to the three legacies. The focus, again, is the support of 12 Step Programs. The “Club” activities did attract new members, but all “Club” activities had to be financially solvent – the responsibility was to have the “Club” support the tenant 12 Step Programs. No club should exist that feeds off the rent of their 12 Step tenants. And herein lies the the problem facing the 21st Century Alano Club.
Many “Clubs” resorted to charging ‘dues’. In the beginning this was a method of making sure voting members were invested in the Alano. Over time the idea of dues expanded to include certain social activities. For instance, only dues paying club members could use the facilities between 12 Step Meetings. Amenities were added, like pool tables. Some dues paying members lost sight of the central mission – they lost sight of the concept of service to others – they began asking, “What about me? What do I get for my dues?” The ‘what about me’ attitude reminds us of the ‘terminal uniqueness’ of some in active addiction. This is a dangerous place to go mentally – this attitude can undermine years of hard work in recovery.
When Alano Clubs venture into charging dues for added amenities they provide opportunities for counter productive thinking. We are not saying that dues for amenities should be forbidden. We are only saying that we have to approach these ideas with great caution.
12 Step Programs do not exist to finance an Alano Club. The Alano Club exists to support recovery, unity, and service. The question is not what we get from our Club, the question is what do we give?
WHEN: Our dinner is traditionally held at 2:00 PM on Thanksgiving day
WHERE: 401 South 11th Street, St. Joseph, Missouri
Generally, Alano will supply the turkey or ham. Other than the meat dish the dinner is pot luck. We are always grateful for the many donations. The spirit of service to others is a central ingredient to a healthy recovery.
Thank you to all who participate.
Donations are accepted
Giving the Group Your Best
12 Step Programs center on the all-volunteer self-help group. In all cases, a group works best for its members with help from its members. To get the most out of your group, you should be prepared to put things into it. Consider the following suggestions:
- • Remain committed to recovery. This group cannot do its real job for you if your attitude is shaky. Keep your commitment strong.
- • Attend the meetings. Your absence takes from the group – your presence gives to it. As with so many things in life, just being where you know you should be can be half the battle.
- • Be open and honest with yourself and others. This group can be the right place to take risks, to stumble, and to learn to succeed and to be your true self.
- • Get to know each member and be available to each other. The problems and progress of others in the group affect you. We need each other.
- • Create friendship. Reach out and take chances. Others here might even become good, close friends.
- • Bring good cheer and optimism to the meetings. We need good feelings, and we all have the power to create them and not just wait for them.
- • Ask for what you need. If you want your issues addressed, speak up, Make the meetings work for you.
- • Learn through the group wisdom. Through the group, solutions to many problems are available to you. Pay attention to what others have to say, and you may hear many important things you did not even think about before.
- • Be prepared to act when you see a member going astray. Confront him or her in a respectful and honest way. If you need support to do this, get it.
- • Offer a good word when someone does well. We know how tough it can be. Sincere approval is precious.
- • Honor the group rules. The rules express the needs of a recovering group. Just as you should not cheat in recovery, do not disregard the rules in the recovery group.
- • Make your contributions count. Think, get to the point, and be practical. Do not show off or hog the time.
- • Help get things done. If something needs doing – do it. After all, it is a self-help group.
- • Be trustworthy. Honor confidentiality and do what you say you will do for others.
- • Strive to be a person of your word.
- • Share the group with your partners in recovery. Bring them to meetings when appropriate and encourage them to know this part of your life.
- • Give back to others. You will have valuable insights and experiences. Please share them so that others can learn from you and so you will not forget.