The Unity Club is 30 years old. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to imagine life before it existed. It has had many face-lifts since I’ve been coming, but to think it was ever anything but the Unity Club is unfathomable. So I found some of the founding members to get the real skinny on how everything got started. Their story follows.
Before the Unity Club there was another “Club” located in Baileys Crossroads. All of our founding members were part of that club until one day there was a major disagreement. That club was engaging in behavior that many did not agree with – including the newly elected President of the Club. Well, rather than change their ways – the”club” ousted the President and continued doing what they wanted. Being a bunch of good alcoholics, it marked the beginning of a major resentment. A key group of 10 (the Ad Hoc group as it would later be known) banded together to decide how to deal with the situation. Should they stage a protest and an uprising to get their way, or drop the rock and the resentment and start a new club? Sane minds prevailed and the idea of the Unity Club was born.
The Ad Hoc committee realized they needed funding and a location to begin. For funding, they solicited an additional 30 members and sold annual memberships to the Unity club for $50.00 each. With money in the coffers, they started their search for the location. There was a small Cape Cod house on Rte. 50 that was under serious consideration, and then there was our current location. The Cape Cod was less expensive, but when members of the Ad Hoc committee first saw the Unity Club facility, they knew instantly it was the right place. “ When we walked up the steps – at the time there wasn’t a wall. The first thing we saw were those wonderful windows overlooking Broad Street. In front of it was a platform and a speakers’ podium facing us. At the moment we knew it was meant to be”. Even though they would need more money, the decision was made. To support the rent increase, they went to the annual members and sold lifetime memberships for an additional $100.00 each. With $6,000.00 in the bank, a Resentment, and 40 new members, we were on our way to establishing the Unity Club. Dan T, one of the Ad Hoc committee members, spoke to an existing club in Houston, Texas. This club gave him suggestions on how to be successful:
1 – Have paint on the walls to show warmth
2 - Have plants in the space to show life
3 - Have a Coke machine.
The first two were already covered, but there was no money for the Coke machine. So Dan T. subsidized the first “coffee bar”, providing coffee for $0.25 a cup and Cokes for $0.50 a bottle. “People were none too happy to have to pay for their coffee – but it survived and we grew. I had to leave my regular job during the day to sneak back to the Unity Club to restock the Coke Machine”, says Dan T. It was only one of the things that the Ad Hoc committee did to make the Unity Club a success. They took turns opening and closing the Club every day, to be present for anyone walking through the doors looking for a meeting.
I asked both Dan T. and Brian D. (members of the Ad Hoc Committee) what was the turning point for the club. Theyvoffered me two key incidents. The official club opening was September 1, 1987. There had been a few pop-up meetings before then, but there was considerable angst as to whether anyone would actually show up. The first official meeting was 10 AM that Sunday. Much to their surprise, 120 people appeared for that meeting. Thanks to Larry R.,the Chairman of the Unity Club Judiciary Committee, almost the entire Sunday morning group from the other club showed up at Unity. That was the first sign that Unity Club was going to make it.
The second key incident was later. Through September and October, they continued to worry if the Unity Club would make it. Word hadn’t spread fast enough and the attendance was still low. Brian D. came up with the idea of asking Sandy Beach to speak at the Club, and he agreed. So the advertisements went out - “Sandy Beach speaking at the Unity Club”. Everyone knew Sandy Beach but where was the Unity Club.? The event was a huge success and finally the Unity Club was on the map. Did you know that the Unity Club was the first non -moking Club? And that the morning meeting started by John H. was the first meeting in the country to meet 5 days a week?
A lot has changed over its 30-year history. Rent has tripled, we have a formal snack/coffee bar, and four meeting rooms. We have over 120 meetings and 2500 people ar the Club each week. Best of all, it has kept me and many more like me, sober.