Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter March 2005

Dear Marina Dock Members and Patrons,

The Marina Dock continues to provide the highest quality service to the Bay Area Twelve Step recovery community. We attribute our success, primarily to our donors and supporters, as well as our flexibility in making adjustments, in a rapidly changing world. Thank you again for your continued monthly support without which we could not exist. I believe it's fair to say the new people we see coming through our doors today are very different from the new people of 25 years ago. The stigma associated with alcoholism still exists but public awareness and the collective level of consciousness have definitely been raised.

I remember when I first started to come around the program in 1981, that people in meetings would jokingly allude to their $20,000 "Big Book." That was in reference to the various detox programs then available through some of the hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area. These hospital programs cost around $20,000 for a 28-day detoxification. At that time the patient's health care provider picked up the tab. Then, in the early Nineties, the HMOs became the dominant force in the health care industry and they quickly realized that treating the disease of alcoholism was a costly business due to the high degree of recidivism, characteristic of this particular malady. It was no longer "cost effective" so they essentially got out of the business, paving the way for the residential and outpatient treatment programs that are now de rigueur.

The Marina Dock works closely with treatment facilities in San Francisco. Our staff has a solid working knowledge of City and County substance abuse services and other treatment options. On request we will assist individuals in finding residential and outpatient programs as well as long-term recovery oriented housing for those seeking safe, clean and sober living situations. We also refer people to the Oznam Detox Center at 8th and Harrison Street, the McMillan Drop-In Center 39 Fell Street (at Fell and Market), which is open 24 hours and will assist substance abusers in finding a higher level of long-term care. We also call the Mobile Assistance Patrol (MAP) for individuals who are under the influence who request transportation to a hospital or detoxification facility. When people contribute to the Marina Dock they are not only helping to provide a Twelve Step meeting place and social club, they are indirectly helping many other individuals who are still suffering. For $30 a month or one dollar a day you are helping out and making a huge difference in the lives of people you don't even know exist. Tonight, for example, I ran into an old friend William W from Orinda. He was on his way to the Monday Night Workshop at the Marina Dock and we got to reminisce about his early days at the Dock. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote as a testimonial to the Marina Dock/Dry Dock:

Great spending time with you earlier this evening, and always great fun to reminisce. And thanks for the offer of assistance with the screenplay. Never know what life has in store.
Text follows-let's stay in touch more often,

Life On The Dock:

The Marina Dock is a magical place. Thousands of people have been touched by it. Great and miraculous events transpire within its walls.

It was in February of 1990 that I first passed through those doors. As an alcoholic and a drug addict, unemployed, homeless but for the good graces of my parents, and had just gone through a tough break-up with a woman I cared greatly for ... all of which had collectively brought me to Alcoholics Anonymous.

I was fortunate to spend long hours at the Dry Dock - it served as a field expedient spin-dry, particularly for those on a budget. Through the course of my first year, I attended roughly 400 meetings at all hours of the day. The Dock was absolutely vital in this early stage of sobriety, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to David, Georgie, and Irish Tony as well as the many other members in attendance there. Each person in those meetings helped me, whether they knew it or not.

After the first month, I was soon renting a small room in an old Orinda mansion. I would leave in the morning and walk over the hills to the local BART station, where I would hop the gate and steal aboard the San Francisco train. I would slip between the cameras at the Montgomery Street end, jump on a 45 Muni, and arrive at the Dry Dock. This would average about four to five hours round trip. And in between, I would spend the entire day at the Dry Dock, going to meetings, sharing and being of service.

Recently I celebrated my 15th AA birthday; I was sober at my Father's wake. He died following a long illness, and had finally achieved sobriety after years of alcoholism. Being in recovery had restored our relationship, once broken for decades, and I had the honor and privilege of being there for him in his final hours.

My childhood experience with my father, his love of flight, his reawakening through AA, and his passing were all represented in that final moment of time. Once again, the program and my Higher Power had quietly brought me full circle.

Over the years, the pink cloud comes and goes, directly in proportion to my level of commitment to sobriety. I find that when I clean house, trust God and help others, I'm living in the solution. The Marina Dock is where it all started for me and I am greatly indebted to this place - it changes people.

William W, East Bay and San Francisco Fellowship.

Marina Dock Meetings and Workshops

We now have a Sugar Anonymous meeting on Thursday evenings at 6:30PM and the Monday Night Steps 1,2&3 Workshop with Paul H. is really popular. The 4th Step Workshop on Sunday night is temporarily off the schedule. Louis returned to Italy after many years in exile to reunite with his family. I am thinking about resurrecting the old Fourth Step Workshop I used to facilitate in the early Nineties, probably in April. I will keep you posted on that one. It was popular at the time and a lot of people benefited from it. If you are new or not so new and feel the need to clean house it's worth thinking about. I must warn you in advance this Workshop is about action and results, without pressure.

Jody H has a wonderful Art Therapy Workshop on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month. We are so honored to have Jody here at the Marina Dock. Jody taught art at the high school and college level, then one day she found herself at the Dry Dock attending a women's relationship support group. One day after a meeting a friend from the group who owned a small press asked Jody to write a book on her experience with a failed relationship. She quit her regular job and began interviewing men and women across the country that had similar experiences. The result was two years later: the publishing of her book entitled SmartLove (Changing Painful Patterns, Choosing Healthy Relationships). Later, Jody studied chemical dependency at UC Berkeley and expressive arts therapy at the California Institute for Integral Studies.

Art therapy is a powerful tool for recovery. Many people use a substance because they are medicating an underlying anxiety or depression. Some situations we face are beyond words. If we express our feelings about the situation on the page in vibrant color, we are less likely to drink, use, overeat or use relationships to fill the void within. My Art Therapy Workshop is designed to be fun, and everyone enjoys it. Sometimes we will create a piece of art we will want to keep. Fierce beauty comes from absolute honesty. It is only when we are committed to our recovery that we can be totally open and receptive to 'The Hero Within.'

Many years ago I worked as an Art Therapist counselor at a well-known residential Recovery House in San Francisco where I met Tony. I called him "Irish Tony" and the name stuck. Most of the clients were new to recovery and were overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions, in some cases suicidal. I encouraged these people through creative expression to explore these intense and/or painful thoughts and emotions in this supportive environment. We used paints, clay, and batik, to create visual images of thoughts and memories. I have found over the years of doing Art Therapy that anyone can benefit from this method, of exploring inner issues through using a variety of art materials.

Here are some of my clients' views on Art Therapy:

  • "It is the journey that matters, not the destination" Vicy B., Redwood City.
  • I am not trying to be an artist, I want to use visual symbols to access the wreckage of my past, and explore feelings and resentments that have imprisoned me for years." Johnny G., recovering alcoholic, San Francisco, Bay View.
  • "Art Therapy unlocked, not only the secrets to my own self-destructive addictions, but to the terrible beauty within yearning for recognition." Georgina S., co-dependent /addict, Oakland Hills.

If you are someone who feels stuck or trapped in an inner world of fear and impending doom, or are a CEO under pressure or overworked, or if you are problem-free but would like an opportunity to explore and confront "The Hero Within," this Workshop will definitely get you started.



Art Therapist & Author

Render Unto Caesar

There appears to be some confusion with Marina Dock AA Secretaries and their responsibilities when it comes to practicing the Seventh Tradition. Last year, working with a group within the Fellowship, we decided to reduce our room rents for AA meetings to reflect a more realistic meeting attendance to rent ratio. The Marina Dock requests only the stipulated rent for the meeting in question, no more no less. How additional money over and above the rent is distributed is not the Marina Dock's responsibility. A few weeks ago a new format was distributed to each meeting with the rent for that particular meeting clearly stated on the format. It is the secretary/treasurer's responsibility to announce to the group (a) how much the rent for the meeting is, and (b) how much they have collected at each meeting and how the money is disbursed. We, the Marina Dock, as a gesture of goodwill, made a room available free of charge to the Secretary's Workshop so all AA secretaries and other people interested in service can attend. The Secretary's Workshop is conducted the 3rd Saturday of every month at 1:30 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

February was very disappointing financially but we know with your help, March will be better. Remember, no contribution or donation is too big or too small and you have the option of having your donations paid automatically through your credit card every month. Thanks again for all your support.

With Gratitude,


Anthony T. Murray "Irish Tony"


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