Alcoholics Anonymous History In Your Area
Panama City Beach, Florida
Beach Unity Group
The Beach Unity Group began with a small cadre of alcoholics on the East End of Panama City Beach, interested in having daily meetings for anyone with a desire to stay sober. The group became official within District 15, holding their first meeting in the small lobby area of the Beach YANA Club in January 1991. Memo reports have the first meeting with only 5 attendees: Ray S and Joann S (the founders of the Beach YANA Club, Inc.), Frank M, Mike D, Janelle S, and Beth L (with her young daughters Kelly and Katie). During the first year, some of these recovering alcoholics were the beginning members: Ray S and Joann S, Charlie W, Bob W, Jack M, Warren G and Eloise G, Mike D, Jan and Larry S, Frank S, Frank M, Fred B, Janelle S, Robert H, Bill F, Darrel D, Rusty, Miss Ruby, Joe W and Jackie W, Joe G and Jane G, Mike D, Andy T, Dan P, Hank M, Joy G, Beth L, Laura R, Brian G, Kerry E, Bridget, Jimmy C (Wormy), Vince M and Barbara, Barb K, Hilary J, Jimmie A, Missy J, Nancy, Chuck P, and Mike (fisherman). There were many others whose names cannot be recalled but these early members met often to encourage each other and help newcomers. One important story is that Janelle S came in January 1991 and picked up the first White Chip given out by the group. She is the one-chip wonder of this group and stayed sober until she died in a work-related accident sometime in 1998 (I think). She was a great inspiration to many men and women in the group.
As of this writing, in March 2006, the group has grown from the few original members to over 30 regular attendees. At one time, in the mid-1990’s the group attendance was often around 50 people, but the nature of AA on the beach has always been seasonal and fluctuating. Over the years, we have had active Group Service Representatives (GSRs) and other members who are vital in District 15 affairs, service work in the community, and Area One volunteer work. The Beach Unity Group contributes monthly to help support the District, Area, and AA General Service Office (GSO) in New York as a consistent member in good standing. The group is self-supporting and pays rents each month for space to meet at the Beach YANA Club, Inc. Location of the Beach YANA Club is 8715 Laird Street Panama City Beach, FL 32408. The phone in the lobby can be called (850) 230-1821, any time to ask directions or talk to an alcoholic.
The group meets every day from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in hopes of attracting the after-work Happy Hour crowd and other wayward travelers off the beach (and off the barstool) after the sun goes down! The timeframe works well for many people, making it easy to keep a reasonable schedule for supper, or planning a nice evening at home. It also feels good to sit down after a busy day, sometimes stressful, and hear the message of hope the group offers. There are many new members and many transient visitors to our area that grace the meetings every day, which gives this group a perpetual freshness and a sincere desire to share recovery experience, strength, and hope with all who enter the doors of AA. We have a mix of young and old, men and women, short-term to long-term sobriety, and lots of newcomers that come back again and get sober, as they become more willing to admit their disease and seek the solution that the AA program gives alcoholics. Most of our meetings are open and there is a Speaker meeting on Sunday afternoon. We have a real good time poking fun at each her, laughing at ourselves, and sharing honestly with each other. We encourage people who are court-ordered, out of Detox, out of jail, and out of answers to Keep Coming Back! One day at a Time is another favorite motto of our group.
Some features of the group: We have a chip system to gauge the first year in sobriety since it seems to help track our progress. We celebrate Birthdays of members on the last Sunday of each month at the 5:30 Speaker meeting in order to show the program works! We welcome newcomers by giving them a Where and When schedule with people’s phone numbers (guys # for the guys, ladies # for the ladies) and talk after the meeting. We have a Visitor’s Book for our many visitors to write in after the meeting. Currently, the group has a team that takes a meeting into Detox every Thursday evening at 7 p.m. During the mid-90s, we had a team to take meetings into the Hwy. 390 Workcamp. We look forward to carrying the message of recovery to many more alcoholics in our area!
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