Akron: The Recovery City

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Akron in 1935.

Founders Day this year is June 7, 8, & 9, 2019 Akron, Ohio. Akron is known world-wide as the birthplace of A.A.

Akronite, Dr. Bob Smith’s last drink was on June 10, 1935 (a beer to steady his hand for surgery), and this is considered by members to be the founding date of AA.

The Smith family home in Akron became a center for alcoholics. It’s at 855 Ardmore Ave, Akron Ohio. They would often bring alcoholics into their house.

I didn’t primarily use AA to quit drinking. Although, I always enjoyed a good AA meeting, and still do. I found help in something called Smart Recovery. It’s behavioral therapy based. I liked it so much I became a certified facilitator.

My belief is that there is never going to be one method that will treat all addicts and addictions. Humans are too diverse and complicated for that.

I often hear addicts tell me that they don’t feel powerless and they don’t feel connected to any higher power. So AA isn’t a good fit for them. But others swear by it.

If there is one thing I have seen that has incredible power, it’s community. People coming together creates energy that is beyond simple, rational day to day existence.

It creates what Carl Jung called Synchronicity. Being together creates something that is different than random coincidences. There is a mystical, undeniable power of community. It creates meaning out of seemingly unconnected events and people.

Even our most ardent haters in the homeless services community were forced to acknowledge that we had created something no one else had ever created before: A community for people that no one cared about.

There was a level of acceptance and inclusion in our tent village unlike anything seen anywhere else.

Take a person who everyone else has said is no good and a waste of space and invite them into your community. You will see a transformation unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Bringing people closer to us is how we solve conditions like addiction and homelessness and even anti-social actions like drug dealing. Pushing people away makes things worse. Bringing people closer makes things better.

I believe Akron will be the city where people of all different backgrounds come to test and learn new recovery methods and practices.

We simply have to get our leaders over one simple wall. They must be brave enough to ask one simple question: what do we do with these people?

The answer is simple: We work with them, of course.

We have the land. We have the buildings. And we certainly have the people that care.

We also have the people that need the help.

Akron is the place where this Synchronicity is meant to happen. That’s why I know it will happen. It’s meant to be.

Akron is the city where all people are welcome. The addicts, the homeless, the sex workers, the drug dealers, the thieves, the pedophiles. (They are already here. We simply have to acknowledge their existence and accept them as part of our community.)

Once we welcome the shunned into our community then that’s when the magic will start to happen.

That’s when people from all over the world will come to Akron to work with them.

We will open our city to the old recovery methods and the new.

This will be the transformative Renaissance of Akron. We must make our own way. We have challenges that are much different than Detroit, Cleveland or Pittsburgh. Those cities have embedded big businesses that will push them out of their slumps. Akron doesn’t have that. We are not those cities. We must begin anew.

Akron will rise up as the place where we learned how to care for those that no one cared for. It’s as obvious as the potholes on our roads.

Dr. Bob Smith gave us our founding. Now we must go to the next level. We must welcome the unwanted into our house.





2 responses to “Akron: The Recovery City”

  1. Nicole Avatar

    I absolutely adore the passion and love that you have for others! I think it is entirely ridiculous that on a private property that you cant home others in “tents.” I am nothing compared to what you have done but since i turned 18 ive either tried to help or house friends that were addicts or homeless. Then i myself became an alcoholic and i still try to help others but my minimum wage job with high rent has made it very difficult. I most recently had 8 people living in my 3 bed 2 bath apartment and the personalities ended up clashing..not to mention 1 month of staying turned to 6 months. They finally moved out for many different reasons but my kids finally got their own room…for a bit. As of now…i share my room with my 2 children and a roommate…i gave their room 2 others(who dont even know each other lol) my living room has been turned into a bedroom and the 3rd bedroom is shared by my disabled mother and addict sister. When i feel like im going to lose my “spit” i just think of everything you have been doing for MANY others in our city. You are a light that reminds me why i do what i can do….and i cant do much…but i still have an apartment and electricity and….thats ALOT more than what others have in our city. Keep doing what you are doing and keep your head up….and i will try to stay sane and keep doing what i can do….1 extra person in my home is 1 less person off the streets. God bless you sage!

    1. That’s an incredible story. You are amazing.