Excerpt from `Alano South Chronicle' January,1987
From a humble beginning of about 10 people in early 1980, an AA meeting was started at a Bonanza Restaurant across from East Brook mall. The meetings were held at noon on Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Little did we know that a MIRACLE was in the making. After the restaurant was closed down, the group continued to meet in different restaurants up and down 28th Street until finally settling down at the Ramada Inn near Buchanan Ave., SW. When we arrived at the Ramada our roster was about 30-35 strong. Within 2 years some meetings had as many as 70 people attending. The Directory of Membership of the 28th Street group topped 100. During this time, a group of us met in an organizational meeting at the Gerribees Party Place in Grandville. Within a year after looking at many buildings and locations, the property at 256 Celia Street, SW was purchased. Bylaws were drawn up; building cleaned (all by volunteer workers),and the doors were opened to AA and Alanon on April 16, 1984.
April 16, 1984 was a day that was anticipated by many as a new beginning. Tables and chairs had been donated by a member (charter) for use until the club could afford our own...(eventually we were able to replace most through purchased from Steelcase)...a sharp contrast to the very first board and committee meeting that took place a month before...Just picture every room being bare and 20 to 25 people sitting on lawn chairs, or on the floor making plans for the grand opening. A food committee was set up and from day one a member would stop by Canteen Co. and bring sandwiches, salads, yogurt, etc. to the south club. A House Chairman was elected the job of buying and procuring supplies of toilet paper, soap, coffee and cups and sugar and cream, soda pop and cigarettes. The little things like cloth towels to clean tables...light bulbs to be replaced, a donated Hoover Sweeper or two that seemed to run just long enough until someone could donate another. Man it was fun and at the time Volunteers did it all. It was called a `Labor of Love'.
It’s strange the way some things happen in Alcoholics Anonymous. Here we are moving from location to location never knowing from one week to the next whether we would be at the same place the next meeting day. I remember standing in snow and cold at the last meeting place directing members to the newest location then joining them 10 minutes late. Thinking back, I remember the relaxed feelings we developed when finally we settled in at the Ramada Inn. Even here we met in different settings, once in a large room that had an adjoining bedroom and a small bar. People sat on the floor, on the sofa, on the sofa arms, around the corner into the bedroom, on the bed, in the doorway leading to the bar, someone even sat up on the bar itself. I think we had 35 people that noontime. As the group grew from 40 to 50 to 60 people or more they moved us to the 5th floor ballroom where even there we had to break into two groups.
From Bonanza to 256 Celia St, SW ... We’ve come a long way. On the 16th of April 1984 we opened the doors to our building for meetings. Our new (AA) group called the ‘Celia Street Group’ was formed. Lake Alano had to be pumped out every time it rained until one Saturday in November of ’84. We gathered together about 10 men and laid a drainpipe from the drain basin out towards the power tower, and from that time on the parking lot was rid of water when it rained. Expansion of rooms were needed... this too was accomplished by inside help… flowers were planted, a flag pole erected, the roof repaired, a sidewalk poured in the front parking lot, striped lawn seeded and de-weeded, etc. New more than 1000 people a week sit in meetings. This April we will have our Third Annual Gratitude Celebration.