Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter November 2005

Dear Marina Dock Members and Patrons alike:

It's November 4th 2005, the building sale has been finalized, escrow has closed, and we now have a new Landlord(s). The Marina Dock looks forward to a long, and harmonious business like relationship with the new owners. As I mentioned in a recent newsletter, every time a building is sold in San Francisco it incurs additional costs to the buyers, like higher mortgage payments and property taxes, which in turn leads to rent increases for tenants.

I know we, the Marina Dock, will have a rent increase probably in January 2006, if not sooner. I have not heard anything official yet, but we expect it to be somewhere in the region of five hundred dollars. That would bring our rent up to $4,750.00 a month. When you consider a few months ago we were faced with a situation where the future of the Marina Dock was uncertain, an increase of $500.00 a month, although substantial, is with your support, definitely within the realm of manageability. On reflection, the strategy of soliciting a recovery friendly consortium to purchase the building was the best decision all around.

Our goal now, is to keep our doors open, and pray that God's will for us, is to do the best we can on a daily basis, to be there for the ones who come to our facility everyday seeking help. It goes without saying that we could use some assistance in this area from our members and patrons, in the form of donations and contributions. In the words of Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882 "what you are, means far more than what you say." Again, on behalf of the Marina Dock recovery community I would like to, once more, take this opportunity to thank everyone who helps us out every month. We are forever grateful.

San Francisco's slippery slopes

If anyone has any questions about the need for a place like the Marina Dock, a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle should remove any doubts. A few weeks ago, they ran an article about the cost of ferrying the homeless, over a thirteen month period, to various hospitals and health facilities in San Francisco: almost five thousand ambulance trips, and $11,5000.000 in financial costs to the city's taxpayers, not to mention the price in human suffering and loss. The report found that almost all of these individuals were under the influence of drugs and or alcohol.

Statistics have shown that most of these homeless people will ultimately die on the streets, from alcoholism and drug addiction. A study conducted some years ago on "Deaths Among Homeless Persons-San Francisco, 1985-1990" found that 644 deaths were identified as homeless, 35% died on the sidewalks or parks in the City, 24% died in emergency rooms, 21% were found in abandoned buildings, 5% were found in vehicles in which they lived, and 14 % were found in a SRO hotel in which they lived. The average age at death was 41 years. Either drugs or alcohol were detected in 78% of the decedents. It's important to note that this study was done when Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) greater than or equal to 0.1 g/d L was considered legally drunk in California; in 1990, this was reduced to greater or equal to 0.08g/dL. I know, some may say "wait a minute, I'm not under the influence or homeless, and I haven't been to the hospital in years. I'm sober twenty years, I live in a nice neighborhood, I have a good job, with lots of friends and family support, this in not my world or concern." Complacency has a dictionary definition that reads as follows:  "self-satisfied, usually in an unreflective way, without being aware of possible dangers", or to use a quote from our basic text "it's easy to let up on our spiritual program and rest on our laurels." (p. 85 The Big Book).

Staring into the abyss

My relationship with the Dry Dock/ Marina Dock has brought me into to contact with thousands of people over the years, most of whom I still remember by name. Sometimes that can be painful, like in the case of Jay-Walker (not his real name) who first came to the Dry Dock around fifteen years ago. When he first showed up he was somewhere in his late twenties and participating in a Walden House program for alcohol and substance abuse.

Jay was friendly, articulate, well educated, well liked, and attending meetings several times a day. He and I would talk about the program, sobriety and the insanity of our drinking experiences. Jay put together multiple years of sobriety and then he fell off our radar. About two years ago, late at night, I was approached on Van Ness Avenue by a scrawny, inebriated, demented individual hollering at me out of the darkness for "change." He looked like an escaped prisoner-of-war. His hands held out for alms, wearing a jacket that was about two sizes too small for him and a pair of pants that were about 6 inches above his bare-feet. My first thought was, "that's why Goodwill doesn't want you to leave clothes outside their stores at night, the homeless do their shopping there." This guy was crazed and bordering on the aggressive, so I decided to give him a wide berth, and not engage, period. But as I got closer and he practically blocked my path, I realized it was my old friend Jay from the Dry Dock years. I turned my face away from him, so he would not recognize me and walked on. I was actually scared of him, and he looked psychotic and homicidal. When I got home I thought about Jay a lot: "did I do the right thing?" Should I have tried to talk to him, given him money, at least acknowledge him? After a while I settled on the concept of "powerlessness" and what that meant for both Jay, and me, and that seemed to be the end of it.

Jay refuses to go away

Over the last several years Jay Walker seems to be everywhere. One night, I am at a gas station, at the corner of Van Ness and Union when here comes Jay, wearing the same outfit he had on several months before. Again I tried to disguise myself, crouching over and holding my head down as I pumped gas. Jay approached me, roaring like a madman and gesticulating frantically for money to get a bus to Marin. I decided a new tack, in my best non English-speaking accent; I told him I did not speak English. "What language do you speak?" he demanded. "German", I blurted boastfully, without thinking but with some degree of confidence. With that Jay, who did not appear to be as drunk or demented as the previous time I saw him, hunkered down, tilted his head sideways, to get a better look at me in the semi-darkness of the gas station, and shouted in fluent German: "Du bist nicht Deutsch. Du bist Irish Tony deer aus der Dry Dock stammt. Ich kenne dich. Ich bin dein freund Jay" (Translation:   "You are not German. You are Irish Tony from the Dry Dock. I know you; this is your friend Jay.")

Afterwards, I concluded, maybe I am been punished for being too anonymous. Then I remembered reading a piece by Dr Bob where he stated: "There were two ways to break the anonymity tradition: (1) by giving your name at the public level of press or radio; and (2) by being so anonymous that you can't be reached by other drunks." I really was not trying to hide my identity from the unfortunate Jay. He was not exactly reaching out. If he were, like most of us I would be there for him. Whenever I see someone being overzealous in carrying the message to an individual who is not ready to receive it, I try to remember how this whole thing got started. The chain of events that created our fellowship, came about when an eminent Psychiatrist told Roland H, after multiple failed attempts to get sober, that he could no longer help him. Paradoxically, it was through telling him this, that Roland, in desperation, cried out for divine intervention, and found a power greater than himself. If on the other hand, Jay walked through the doors tomorrow and expressed a genuine desire for change, like any one of us, I would do every thing possible to create the conditions to make that a reality for him. It's interesting that the conditions needed to make this a reality for us, are usually not to our liking, hence the insidious nature of our malady.

Marina Dock Meetings and Schedule Changes

  • We decided, with AA group approval, to have an 8:30PM AA meeting every night, instead of a different time on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, it was too confusing, many people were showing up at 8:30PM for a meeting, only to find the meeting started at 8:00PM or 8:15PM.
  • We have a new 4thStep workshop on Wednesday night from 7:00PM to 8:00Pm starting November 9th.
  • The Swami is back with his Meditation Workshop on Sunday Nights at 7:30 PM, it's a great class but it needs support.
  • Paul H's Monday night workshop on steps 1,2&3, at 8:30PM,is a sellout, standing room only most nights.
  • There is now an OA meeting on Friday, night 6:30PM that is also very popular.
  • Jody who facilitates the Art Therapy workshop is taking a sabbatical she needs a break, it was a wonderful experience for a lot of people, thank you Jody.
  • On the other hand the old Arts Anonymous meeting on Thursday Night is back on the schedule at its old time of 6:00PM, it needs support.
  • We now have an NA meeting every evening at the Marina Dock, and they have turned out to be hugely successful.
  • There are also a number of meetings that need service commitments ask at the desk for more information.

In closing, again I want to thank all our members and supporters for your support over the last twenty years, if you are not a member, please give us some consideration in terms of a membership or donation. Next month we will be sending out your annual statement of financial contributions to the Marina Dock thus far this year, 2005. Have a wonderful holiday season.

With Gratitude,

"Irish Tony"

From: Donna S

Hey Tony,
Sorry it took so long to reply... been really busy since I got back. My husband Stanley and I recently got the opportunity to visit The Marina Dock on our vacation to Northern California. We live in Honolulu Hawaii and love traveling to the mainland and checking out different states and always make sure we hit AA meetings wherever we are. Stanley had heard about your group and told me he thought it was somewhere near the motel we were staying at so we just set out exploring the city on foot and what a nice surprise to find you guys about 6 blocks from where we were staying. I think one of the best things about this program is that no matter where we are, we can go to a meeting and feel right at home. People always have slightly different ways to do things, but the
Program and support is there for you no matter what in every similar type club we have been in. The people at the marina dock treated us so nice. We got to meet Irish Tony and learn a little about how you guys operate the Marina Dock. We would for sure be paying members if we lived in the Bay Area. Of all the AA clubs we have seen, the Marina Dock was the cleanest and most organized. There were people milling about even though there wasn't a meeting at the time. It seemed like people liked to just hang around and be "part of" and it was great to get to share that with you. We both look forward to visiting the Dock on our next visit.


Donna S. from Honolulu

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