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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Leaside Celebrates 50 Years
members of the Leaside Group have more than a Millennium
celebration to think about in the year 2000. This January
11, the group will mark 50 years of continuous service and
the gratitude is just spilling over. The anniversary celebration
will be held January 13.
M. has been a member of the group for 32 years. He remembers
joining the meeting just before it moved in 1968 to its
current location at 670 Eglinton Ave. East, at Hanna Road.
Though nearly blind now, Gene travels every Thursday to
the church, walks down the two small flights of stairs,
and waits to greet his friends by the meeting's kitchen
B., a member of Leaside for the last 10 years, asks Gene
if he wants some coffee. Yes and make it black.
remembers his first sponsor, a man by the name of Rusty,
who, along with his wife Alice, started the Leaside group
on January 11, 1950. Back then it was one of the first few
Alcoholic's Anonymous meetings in Toronto, recalls Gene.
told him I'd be back if I could stay sober for 17 hours,"
33 years of continuous sobriety in March, Gene's one-year
medallion was held at the Hanna Road location.
remembers the church basement was new and everyone was excited
because of the group's new location.
then Gene has seen it all. "We've had a lot of new
ones (alcoholics). They come and go," he says, adding,
"a lot of the old ones are also gone; either they moved
away or died."
Leaside Group members, four in total, are used to that,
says Debbie. Though membershipmay be small at this group,
the people who regularly frequent this meeting like the
intimacy that is shared there.
says. "I find that's what really keeps us going right
now, people from other groups, such as Noreen F., and Jim,
who really help us out."
one point, before Debbie's time, the meeting had 22 members,
recalls Gene. "We were never what you call a large
my favourite part," says Debbie, "the intimacy."
adds that he doesn't really like large groups. "It's
too easy to get lost," he says, but adds quickly that
he would never discourage anyone from wanting to join Leaside.
stay open because the newcomer keeps coming," Debbie
says as she passes Gene his coffee.
all anyone can ask after 50 years of service.
© January 2000, Better Times, GTA Intergroup, Toronto,