“It started as a thought.” Bill Ramos, Executive Director of the Alano Club of Angola, said the idea for the nonprofit came from a similar club in Detroit. He thought that Steuben County could benefit from a safe meeting place for people in recovery from alcohol and addiction to socialize and talk about recovery. Ramos reached out to community members he had met through meetings and asked for their advice and expertise, which helped Alano Club become a tax-exempt nonprofit organization with the ability to provide hope and direction for people. Today, it’s a welcoming place in downtown Angola for those who are in recovery or still struggling, to come in and ask for help from people who have been in their shoes. It’s also a family-friendly place – especially for karaoke night on Saturdays!
Since Alano Club opened in 2017, people in the community have learned more about its programs, and Ramos shared that he regularly has people off the street come in asking for help. When that happens, Alano Club acts as an information center, providing resources like meeting lists, social events, and game nights. They host AA and NA meetings, along with Al-Anon and Buddhist meditation based meetings. They work with many other nonprofits to help direct people to the services they need, referring people to TLC House, Northeastern Center, Four County Transitional Living, and more. Even if it’s not Alano Club that provides assistance, they try to send people somewhere that can help.
“You have no idea how you’ll impact a person’s life,” said Ramos. Each day, Alano Club is working to break the stigma surrounding addiction. A big challenge is the support from the community and getting people to see the big picture of the issue, beyond those who personally suffer. The problem is not limited to the individual, but it affects the workforce and community safety. In the future, Alano Club would like to collaborate with other industries, such as companies that have workers who fail drug tests, to offer a more holistic approach to the issue.
If Alano Club didn’t exist, people might still seek out other centers for resources. However, Alano Club helps provide a friendly face and a helping hand so they can be there in the short window of time when a person who wants to recover is reaching out for help. “My favorite part is making a difference and helping others. I wish something like this had existed for me,” said Ramos. When people walk through the doors of the Alano Club, they feel something like “welcome home.”
Check out this 30-second video nonprofit spotlight with Executive Director, Bill Ramos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHIAlZJizd8