The first Big Book was written in 1939. As the message of hope began to spread, it reached Houston, then on to Galena Park in 1950. The 24 Hour Club was established in 1955, for the purpose of detoxing men and providing AA meetings. More and more women were coming to “shake it out” on the porch, couch and chairs of the “24”. An idea was born of love and concern along with AA’s tradition of carrying the message. Old timers around the table discussed the need for a safe place for women to detox. The names included Bo Deal and Frankie, Travis B. and Juvine, Wayne J., Terry and Claire M., Jonell and Phil J., Neva T., Tuffy W., RuValda, Juanita, Katrina, Scottie and so many more. The guidelines kept the old place on Forrest Hill going for over fifteen years and seemed to be working. So, a few went looking. It is believed that Joyce and Jack Horne found the old house on Findley, and the fun began. A committee was formed to find furniture, paint, get dishes, linens, etc. Maryanne K. cleaned her first commode and chaired the first meeting (Tuffy was the speaker). She never took another drink. The house was called A WAY OUT WOMEN’S CENTER. The AA group was named THE JUG GROUP after Maryanne’s old sorority “Just Us Girls.”
All the members had small ceramic jugs, their names painted on in bright red nail polish and hung on a peg board, just as the “24” hung member’s coffee mugs. When extra funds were needed for maybe a refrigerator or new coffee pot, or if someone ran off with the money, a “blanket party” was held. A blanket was spread on the floor and money was tossed in. Coins, bills, checks, whatever could be spared. There was always enough for the needs of the house to be met. A discussion meeting was held 6 days a week at 1:00pm and a speaker at 11:30am on Sunday. Discussion meetings were held also on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings. Sunday breakfast from 8:30 to 11:00am was one of the earliest traditions and still gathers people there weekly. September of 1972 is the closest anyone has come up with for an opening date, though the idea began to take place in 1971. The first Anniversary was celebrated in 1973. The old two story house would be packed, with people sitting on the stairs, in the kitchen, around the dining table listening in awe as stories were told from the podium of miracles and recovery. Tears of gratitude flowed, laughter at troubles past and present shook the windows.
About 1989 we moved. The old Finley house was being sold. A house on Detroit was found and we lived there about three years. When the place began to fall apart sometime in 1991 or 1992, we moved to Howard Drive. Parking was tight and the rent kept going up. It was time to move out. JoAnn S. and Carla D. found this place we are now (3217 Iola Street). Howard P. made a deal to purchase this place. We moved into the place on Iola Street on July 26th 1994. Many improvements were made, and are still being made. But the house belongs to WAY OUT WOMEN’S CENTER, lock, stock, and parking lot. Some things have changed since. We now have a Secretary, Steering Committee, and Board of governors; a residence and a club house. Women are allowed to go through twice, possibly more depending on the circumstances rather than only once. House rules change, people come and go, but the message is still the same:
You never have to drink again if you don’t want to. The JUG group of Alcoholics Anonymous still meets here at 1 p.m. six days a week. Women are offered ten days in residence to detox in a safe surrounding. We are self-supporting through own contributions with no funding from state or government entities. Our residents are not charged anything to come through the Women’s Center. All their needs are met. Information is given to help them move on to further treatment if needed. We “have discovered the joy of helping others to face life again.”
We have a way out.
It still works.