Alano Club thrives after community restoration effort“A Place and Space for Community 12-Step Meetings”
By: Fleta Carrol/For the Pine Journal, Pine Journal
Four years ago this month, the local Alano Club faced serious trouble. There was discussion about having to close the doors and sell the facility, as the renovations needed to stay open cost far more than the cash on hand. Both the exterior and interior of the club had taken on a very “droopy” and dilapidated look, which began to inhibit its use.
Since 1974, this large building, located at 103 10th St. in Cloquet, had evolved from church to carpet store to Alano Club. The purpose of the Alano Club has always been to provide space for 12-step meetings for people in recovery from alcoholism and other addictions. The building is owned by the Alano Society of Carlton County, a legally incorporated non-profit organization which has no regular source of financial support other than contributions made by those who use the facility.
Years ago, a bingo operation at the Alano Club helped pay the bills, but when this operation was discontinued, the Alano Society could only hope that contributions made by the various 12-step groups would be enough to keep the doors open. Meeting contributions fluctuated a lot and often barely covered monthly expenses, much lessthe growing repair needs of a rapidly aging building.
A crisis point arrived four years ago when the building needed many repairs. The furnace was going out and safety upgrades were required, with no funds available to address any of these issues.
This crisis became a turning point for the Alano Society, and for the many people who rely on the Alano Club as a support for recovery from alcoholism and other addictions. Several individuals who were passionate about keeping the doors of the Alano Club open rallied others to join in a massive fund-raising effort to restore the
facility. A drive to increase Alano Society membership was begun, and serious fund-raising efforts launched. Many local businesses, local banks and service groups stepped up to the plate with contributions.
Fundraisers such as the annual Spaghetti Feed were organized. Large one-time grants, matching funds and material contributions arrived from sources such as the Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee, Bremer Foundation, Sappi Fine Paper, B&B Market, Lakes and Pines Small Cities Development Fund, Thrivent Financial, Lake Superior Initiative, Minnesota Power, Wal-Mart, Applebee’s, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, AmericInn, USG, and many, many others.
The cash match required for Lake and Pines Small Cities Development funding was achieved in August 2008, and the Alano Club building renovation began in spring 2009. Improvements included new siding, windows, a new furnace, foundation repairs, handicapped accessible ramp improvement, plumbing and electrical upgrades, a new canopy, roof repair and new signage. Interior upgrades included new chairs, ceiling tile, paint and lighting.
The upgrades and improvements made the Alano Club a more appealing destination. Since the remodel was completed, building utilization has more nearly doubled; between 150-200 people now utilize the Alano Club weekly. The number of 12-step recovery meetings per week have increased by 33 percent, from 14 per week in 2008 to 21 per week in 2011.
Alano Society leadership is now working hard to build a “prudent reserve” fund which assures the club does not face such a dire situation again. Alano Society membership of $24 per year is open to anyone who desires to support the continued operation of the Alano Club facility. Membership entitles one to participate in building and utilization decisions at quarterly meetings.
Alano Society leadership has also developed a mission, vision, policies and procedures which will help ensure the Alano Club’s long term sustainability, and they send a big “thank you” to the many business and community people who have supported the restoration and evolution of this important community facility.
If you would like more information on 12-step meetings, Alano Society membership or wish to make a contribution to support Alano Club operations, call 218-464-7369.