In 1952 Eisenhower was elected President in a landslide, Queen Elizabeth took the throne, and under the leadership of six men founded the Alano Club of Kent County. Perter D., David T., Fred L., Earl S., Arthur S., and Wellon B. saw the need to bring what Bill W. had started in Akron seventeen years earlier to Grand Rapids. A fellowship of men and women sharing the desire to stay sober and helping other alcoholics to achieve recovery.
Clearly the need was there. For within eight years, the Bond Street building where the Alano Club first met could no longer hold all the people who came to meetings. Typical of Grand Rapids’ generosity, Dr. O. Nathan French donated his home at 1020 College where the Alano North Club is today. (AL is for alcohol, AN for anonymous, O for the organization as we are a non-profit.)
Because alcoholism is a family disease, the Club has expanded our programming to reach others in need through such programs as Al-Anon and Ala-teen groups for families and friends of the alcoholic. And as over the years, the face of addiction has changed, we’ve added programs like Narcotics Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, along with family support groups like Nar-Anon and SMART Family & Friends.
We have also continued to expand by hosting recovery programs outside the 12-step traditions to SMART and Refuge Recovery among others. Because it’s not uncommon for people in recovery to replace one addiction with another, we now have Food Addicts in Recovery and Eating Disorder Anonymous.
The Club carries on the perspective of Bill W. (Wilson) who said, “The roads to recovery are many, and the resolution of alcoholism by any method should be a cause for celebration by AA members.” Indeed we have heard many life-altering testimonies from each of the different programs that we host. Any and all roads to recovery should be valued and celebrated. We don't all wear the same shoes, and in the same sense, the best program is the one that keeps you sober.
The Alano Club has had two major renovations in 1982 and 2006 plus a foundation repair in 2015. We hear all the time from out-ot-town visitors that they’d have to go “a long way to find a club as good as this one is." We are grateful to have this big house of ours and strive to be good stewards of its use.
For over 65 years, the Alano Club of Kent County’s mission has been to serve those recovering from addiction by providing a welcoming place for support meetings and fellowship. People come to us in a variety of ways: some are referred by the Kent County Court System, a health care provider, at the urging of family and/or loved ones, and some on their initiative. Regardless of how a person ends up at the Alano Club, when they get here, they are immediately part of the Alano Club family.
Our Club mottos confirm our welcoming spirit. "Keep coming back," "we'll save a seat for you" and "stronger together." We welcome everyone to call our Club, a second home!