Stories

New Freedom, New Happiness

Success Story: Rossetta Eldred

In the winter months of 2014, I was hopelessly addicted to meth. I was facing two felony charges and my son was in foster care. I was facing termination of my parental rights. I took a plea deal for drug court and was mandated to attend three 12 Step Recovery Meetings a week. My life was in shambles; I was homeless, hopeless and friend-less. That is when I met the wonderful people at The Alano Club of Battle Creek.

Momma and JerahI was staying at Safe Place, seeking protection from the mistakes of my past. I had no friends and no support for my recovery. I was so very alone. I started taking the bus across town to The Alano Club of Battle Creek. They have meetings all day long, seven days a week. When I didn’t have to work, or go to appointments for treatment through Drug Court/DHHS, I would sit at ACBC all day long. I would go to meetings and visit with people between meetings.

The Alano Club of Battle Creek gave me hope, support, friends, and a new way to live. I have been in recovery since April 15, 2014, was given full custody of my son back in July of 2014, and graduated Drug Court in June of 2015. I began working as the Outreach Coordinator of ACBC in June of 2016 and completed Recovery Coach certification and SMART Recovery Facilitator training in the fall of 2016. I will graduate from Spring Arbor University with my Bachelors of Social Work in May of 2017, and I hope to be accepted into the Master’s program at SAU in the fall of 2017. I could not have done any of it without the loving support that was so freely given to me by the folks at ACBC.

The Alano Club of Battle Creek was an integral part of my recovery. They house the greatest group of people in recovery! Kind faces, understanding peers, and supportive friends frequent this amazing place. I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me and my family.

Thank you Rose for being an inspiration to others, and thank you for all the great work you do for us and our community as the Outreach Coordinator for The Alano Club of Battle Creek!

A Life Filled with Peace and Grace

Success Story: Lauren

Like many others who struggle with addiction, when Lauren first came to the Alano Club she was not ready to begin her recovery. She didn’t believe it was real-everyone seemed so happy and at peace. About a year later she realized that everyone at the Alano Club has something she wanted, and she couldn’t achieve that happiness and peace by herself.

LaurenLauren’s story with addiction begins at a young age. She started binge drinking when she was young and couldn’t understand how people could only have “just one” drink. Lauren’s life started to change, when she became married and had children. She wanted to be a great mom, and never wanted to drink again. Looking back, she realizes that while she was sober, she was not in recovery.

Fast forward ten years, and Lauren’s marriage had started to fall apart. She was prescribed anxiety medication, and while taking them as prescribed, she had started to drink again. She describes it as reverting back to her twenties at thirty five. She was drinking alone and using alcohol as a coping mechanism. She started seeing a counselor who told her she was okay, wasn’t an alcoholic, and only needed new coping skills.

Lauren knew the counselor was wrong, and decided that she didn’t want to live her life this way. She had worked hard and was proud of her college education and career. She didn’t want to lose her home and everything she had worked so hard for. She was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” For her sake, and her kids’ she needed to make a transition in her life, however, she knew it couldn’t be done alone. Lauren had support from her family, but her dad told her, “I don’t want to hear about it, I want you to show me.” This is when Lauren looked to the Alano Club and decided that it was time to find the happiness and peace that she knew she couldn’t achieve alone.

The Alano Club and the people there helped Lauren put her life back together. Lauren describes the atmosphere of the club as clean, friendly, and warm. She says the people are genuine and helped her understand what was happening in her life. She learned that recovery was the only way to make the change she longed for. The people at the Alano Club became family and she knows as much as she depends on them, they depend on her. She also found spirituality while in recovery and became spirituality in touch with herself. Her family now tells her how proud they are of her.

Lauren says one of the most helpful things in her recovery have been the events at the Alano Club, especially New Year’s Eve and the night before Thanksgiving. She has also been involved in Recovery Nights for four years. Lauren likes how the Alano Club approaches the awareness of addiction, and how the community needs to accept people in recovery-they are not black sheep. Anyone can be an addict.

When asked about what she would tell others battling addiction, Lauren said that long term recovery is what works. As hard as it is to hear, get through the first ninety days, have an open heart and mind, and always have hope. Work the steps and trust in them.

She says, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You may have to battle a lot of demons to get there, but it is so worth it.” By working the steps and finding her spirituality, the Alano Club has helped Lauren find “a life filled with grace and peace.”

Thank you Lauren for sharing your story with us!

Being a Good Neighbor in Recovery

Success Story: Kevin Rocco

Living just up the road from the Alano Club, Kevin had driven by hundreds of times. He had even attended a meeting once with a friend to provide support. He didn’t think he was an alcoholic, however, so it wasn’t a place he concerned himself with.

kevinThis changed in early 2014 when he was convicted of a drunk driving offense through Calhoun County sobriety court. He was sentenced with 18 months probation and required to attend a 12-step program.

Being on probation, he couldn’t go out much due to a curfew. Living close to the Alano Club was very convenient. He felt that it was a welcome and friendly environment and took advantage of opportunities to socialize with others in recovery. Once he acknowledged he was an alcoholic, he knew the Alano Club was where he needed to be.

“For a while it became my second home,” he says. “I attend meetings every day and haven’t missed a day since I started coming in August 2014.”

As required by sobriety court, he attended the Alano Club orientation program. “Attending the orientation is very informative, and a great idea for newcomers,” he says. “ The orientation provided information on the different 12-step programs and community service options. What he appreciates most about the Alano Club is that everyone is friendly, no matter what a person’s story is or where they came from. He also appreciates that there are safe places and events like Recovery Night to socialize without alcohol. He enjoys getting to know others at the Club. Sharing stories strengthens his recovery and life situation.

“Wish I’d had the courage to go there before I got pulled over,” he admits. We’re glad you’re here now and part of our recovery community, Kevin!

Grateful for a Second Chance

Success Story: Teri VanNortwick

Teri was given a second chance to get her life in order through court-ordered treatment by sobriety court in January of 2015. Since 2002, she’d been in and out of recovery. While the event in January wasn’t a high point in her life, without it she wouldn’t have made it back into recovery at the Alano Club.

teriShe has never considered herself a typical alcoholic and wasn’t a daily heavy drinker. However, she would run into trouble while drinking and socializing with friends at bars.

As part of her treatment, Teri attended the new orientation program at the Alano Club. “It’s a good introduction to the Club and to 12-step programs for people who are new to it,” she says. “There are a good variety of programs—one for just about anything you need.” Alano Club helped Teri connect with a sponsor, who has been an incredible help to her in recovery. Her sponsor, Danielle, has been guiding her through the bumps in the road.

“No one comes to a 12-step program in a good state of mind,” she says. “Everyone has problems.” She feels many people in this situation have a hard time focusing and their “thinking is just not right.” It takes time to sort things out, so things make sense again. Hearing the experiences of others and sharing helps put things in perspective for her. “Some people’s situations are better and others’ are worse,” she reflects.

Having social events available in safe surroundings is one thing that helps people in recovery, like Teri. “There are more bars than anything else in Battle Creek,” she says. She feels there are not many places to go where you can socialize or watch sports without alcohol. “Battle Creek needs the Alano Club more than it needs bars.”

Teri truly appreciates her second chance. “It’s up to our community to decide whether it’s better to invest in recovery and healing broken lives or if it’s better to just throw people in jail,” she says. “We all know someone who has struggled with some sort of addiction.” We agree with Teri that recovery and rehabilitation is better for people and for our community!

Not a Black Hole Anymore

Success Story: Jessica Belt

Jessica Belt grew up in an unstable home, with a mother who was an alcoholic. She was one of 10 living inthe home, and was responsible for looking after her siblings. At age 12 she also began drinking. She stole some liquor at a friend’s house, and the police got involved. When the police confronted her mother about the report, her mother only laughed. There was no punishment, no consequences.

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“There was a sense of relief,” Jessica remembers. Not only that there was no punishment, but also that she was released from having to be responsible.

Later Jessica moved in with her dad, which was a more structured environment with rules to live by. Still, she began spending her nights running around town drinking. At age 16 she was a dropout and basically unsupervised. She moved back in with her mother, who was now using drugs. Again, this was reassuring to her – this was normal life. Jessica had a job but it only supported her habits.

“I was a black hole,” she states. “I would digest everything that happened around me, my parent splitting, dropping out of school, ruining friendships for reasons I still can’t remember, and I would never show an emotion other than “screw it—let’s party.”

Jessica recalls that she often drove while drunk. The friends she hung around with congratulated her on how great she was at it. While she, thankfully, never harmed anyone while driving drunk, a close friend did. Every weekend was centered on using, and she began to use harder drugs. Eventually she met Logan Alderson and they began dating.

Logan was under probation and had a court order to attend 12-step meetings. He invited her to come along with him to the meetings at the Alano Club. While she was still using at that time, she couldn’t ignore what the people in the meetings were saying.

“They talked about the freedom and gratitude they felt about their lives in recovery,” Jessica says. Talking with the people at the Alano Club made her day better just by being around them. Their attitude was very appealing; it made her want to feel that, too.

Around two years ago, she began her recovery from addiction. About a year ago she began talking with others about recovery at meetings and in the community. When she talks with her friends, some have been receptive but others she saw less and less. Her life has stabilized; she’s a homeowner and lavishes her pets with love and care.

If it weren’t for working the 12 steps, Jessica says would not really be alive – she’d just be breathing. “I’m not a black hole anymore,” she shares. “I’m someone who can handle the world around them and process it in a simple manner, with an amazing recovery family to support me every step of the way!” We’re glad you’ve joined the Alano Club family, Jessica!

Working the Program Works

Success Story: Logan Alderson

“Alcohol is not good for my family,” states Logan Alderson. “We have a genetic predisposition towards alcoholism.” He grew up in a small town, and the police were well acquainted with his family. He was often in trouble with the law.

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As a freshman at age 14, he started smoking weed and drinking. By the time he was 16, he had quite a few tickets and was ordered to attend his first 12-step meeting.

“I was young and dumb,” he remembers. “I said ‘I’m not an alcoholic.”

But the tendencies were there. He couldn’t stop drinking and he drank until the bottle was empty. His grades at school began suffer, going from As and Bs to barely graduating. He was accepted to college and went for a year.

Drugs eventually got him kicked out of college and he ended up back in Battle Creek, hanging with his friends and using heavily. He decided that must be what normal life was and what normal people did. At age 21 his mom was diagnosed with cancer. He helped her where he could – taking her to chemotherapy appointments and other things. When his mother passed, he had a hard time dealing with it and used alcohol and drugs to cope. Then he began hanging with guys who cooked meth.

Logan was involved in many petty crimes at this point. One night, he left a bar with his brother. They went drag racing out on country roads. He rolled his truck and almost killed his brother, but he was surprisingly physically unscathed. This was his 10th or 11th alcohol offense and the police were coming down hard.

“The judge told me, ‘I’m sick of seeing you. If I see you again, you’re looking at prison time.’” Logan says. He was offered two years probation and drug counseling. This time, he came back for 12-step programs at the Alano Club.

“The location didn’t feel like your typical meeting place for addicts,” he remembers. “It felt more like a sacred space.”

One of the people at the club told him that it only works if you do the program. “Instead of complaining, trying doing something to make it better,” one of his meeting companions suggested. This made him re-evaluate his life and his attitude.

He met Jessica and they began attending meetings together. He got a sponsor and they got involved in club programs. Logan’s been sober three years and truly working a program of recovery. Both he and Jessica feel giving back is very important to success. He’s been chairing meetings, going to rehab centers to talk, speaking at WMU meetings, and hosting Sunday football events. Thank you for giving back to others, Logan and Jessica! You help make the Alano Club a welcoming place for recovery.

Helping Women Find Recovery

Success Story: Barbara Cummings

“The disease of alcoholism and drug addiction is everywhere in my family,” says Barbara Cummings. And she’s no exception. Currently celebrating 34 continuous years in recovery, she first attended a recovery program 43 years ago. Her first visit to Alano Club of Battle Creek was 30 years ago and she remembers feeling accepted and at home.

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Like many people struggling with addiction, Barbara was desperate to find support and comfort by talking through her problems. “People that don’t understand addiction—it’s hard to talk to them,” she says, with understanding. But she felt a bond with her fellow attendees, that they were brothers and sisters struggling with the same problems.

Now in retirement, Barbara devotes her time to giving back to the community and organizations that have helped her throughout the years. Her focus and passion is helping women in recovery. Outside of Alano Club she volunteers in her church and in community programs, such as the Women’s Life Recovery Program. At Alano Club, she assists with luncheons and programs for the women in the different groups that meet at Alano Club. She attends various recovery retreats and brings insights and learning back to Alano Club.

“My life is a blessing in retirement and it’s an example that recovery is possible and is good,” she says. ”That is the gift I’d like to give—life can be happy, joyous and free.”

Some of the programs and retreats she holds at Alano Club focus on women’s issues like emotional sobriety, abuse, self-acceptance and spiritual issues. She also mentors and sponsors women who are in recovery. Barbara assists in coordinating the Wednesday Night Women’s Program at Alano Club, which features speakers and fellowship for women.

“It’s a cold world out there and Alano Club helps people find themselves,” says Barbara. “Whether you’re in recovery one year or 30, we all need this same thing—a non judgmental place.” All of us at Alano Club are glad Barbara found this place with us and deeply appreciate her work to help others find it, too.

New Horizons in Recovery

Success Story: Heather Jett

Heather Jett first came to the Alano Club of Battle Creek in 2007 but was not able to commit to a lifeof sobriety at that time. Though she felt she didn’t have a problem with alcohol, she did pay attention to what was being said in the recovery meetings held there. After completing treatment in 2010-2011 she had a desire to stay clean. She remembered the Alano Club and came back to meetings, and has been in recovery for four years since then. Her life is in an amazing place compared to where she was just a few years prior.

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“For those who are struggling, Alano Club is a supportive place to be, especially when you don’t feel like you should be alone,“ says Heather. “If Alano Club wasn’t here, there wouldn’t be that safe haven for people with addiction.”

Currently she has a full-time position as a manager at a local restaurant, is also pursuing a college degree in computer programming full-time. “Before I came to Alano Club I had no desire to advance myself,” says Heather. “I didn’t even take the ACTs or SATs in high school.” Being in recovery has helped open her eyes to the possibilities that life can offer.

In the past she was involved with committee service at Alano Club, but right now is very busy with college and work. Even with her full schedule she still finds time for a literature study once a week and to be a mentor to others.

“There’s a comfort in being with people who are in your situation, but there’s also hope, especially seeing those who have over 20 years of recovery under their belts,” says Heather. “It gives people dreams – I can do it, too.” Congratulations to Heather on her recovery success and thank you for being part of the Alano Club family.

Recovery is a Family Affair

Success Story: Jolynn & Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith suffers from alcoholism, and calls himself a “textbook alcoholic.” This affliction grew to control every aspect of his life, and also affected his personal and professional relationships. He was behaving recklessly, and knew things needed to change. He found the Alano Club and it was a welcoming environment and an affordable, accessible and effective solution. He began regularly attending a 12-step program at the Club.

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From Jolynn’s perspective changes were happening and things were improving, but she still needed help in coping. Bryan’s sponsor suggested Jolynn attend a program for friends and family of addicts hosted at the Club. At first, she wasn’t sure that sounded like a good idea. She had a preconceived idea of what she thought that group would be. “I thought the people who attended would be negative or bitter,” she says. “But actually there were dozens of people just like me, and with a common factor — a loved one with addiction.”

The support Jolynn received through her group is more valuable to her than past experiences with traditional counseling or medication for depression and anxiety. She learned coping skills and learned to let go of some of her need to be in control. “I never felt like I was able to get that pressure off me before, like I was able through the Club,” says Jolynn. “I wasn’t there to fix Bryan, but I was able to learn to take care of myself.” Bryan has now been in recovery for 17 months, and they both regularly attend programs at the Club. Many of their friends and family members are also now seeking help through the programs at the Club. “We feel safe and comfortable in coming here and feel like we’re amongst family and friends,” they say. “We’ve built a lot of relationships with people we now consider friends.”

All of us at Alano Club are thankful Jolynn and Bryan found what they needed for recovery success, and glad they are part of our recovery community.

Helping Others and Helping Himself

Success Story: Dale Schumacher

Due to a drunk driving charge, Dale received probation and was ordered to attend 12-step programs. His brother, who was successfully recovered for 22 years, recommended the programs hosted at the Alano Club of Battle Creek. While he had always known the Club was here in the community, it was this event that brought him to be involved here. After successfully achieving 90 days in recovery, Dale began chairing one of the 12-step program’s meetings. He was later elected chair of the membership committee, which has a goal of attracting members and promoting membership in the Club.

spring 2014 2The Club had piqued his interest, and he wanted to do more to support its work. He saw a need for social gatherings in the evenings and weekends to support those who were struggling to stay in recovery. He brought his ideas to the Club’s board and began opening the Club as a social space on weekends and evenings.

Out of this grew Fellowship Nights on Friday evenings. The purpose of these gatherings was to create a safe and supportive activity on an evening that was often problematic for those in recovery. “It gave me a safe, clean environment to hang out in,” says Dale. “We often stayed late, even to 2 am – long after the bars had closed.”

Based on the success of the Friday Night Fellowships, monthly Recovery Nights were established through the membership committee. Held at the Club on the last Saturday of every month, multiple recovery groups host this meal and social event. Speakers share their experiences with recovery, and provide strength and hope to all who attend.

Having achieved three and half years in recovery, Dale credits much of his success to the open and welcoming fellowship he as found at the Club. “It gave me the confidence to be able to go out in situations where I would have normally drank and still stay in recovery.”

We’re glad Dale found recovery through the Club and are grateful for his efforts on behalf of his fellow members. Through his gift of his time and energy, the Club is an even more supportive place.