A local institution is ending its time in Newcomerstown after 70 years.
The local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous will no longer have meetings in Newcomerstown after a final meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at the former Newcomerstown Lions Den on Church Street.
Hank Zimmer of West Lafayette said there that while as many as 15-30 people come to the Newcomerstown meetings, there are only three (himself, Sara and Curtis) who are considered the "home" group and tasked with arranging for the meetings, chairing the meetings, lining up speakers and getting the site ready.
"Like a lot of things, there’s no longer a sense of community," Zimmer said. "We just can’t keep it going with just three people doing the legwork. The others just come and leave and aren’t part of the work needed to put on the meetings."
Zimmer said the AA group originally met at the Newcomerstown Police Station but moved to the former Lions Club building on Church Street in the early 1980’s.
"This was a hard decision to make," Zimmer said. "We discussed this for 6-8 months. AA is not set up to where we’re supposed to be a ‘slave’ to the meetings. When we close, we’ll send whatever money is left in our treasury to a regional office or maybe some other local group."
There are other AA chapters in the area, including Coshocton, Cambridge, New Philadelphia, Uhrichsville and Dover.
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.
According to the AA website, "the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous can be traced to the Oxford Group, a religious movement popular in the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. Members of the Oxford Group practiced a formula of self-improvement by performing self-inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation, and carrying the message to others.
"In the early 1930s, a well-to-do Rhode Islander, Rowland H., visited the noted Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung for help with his alcoholism. Jung determined that Rowland’s case was medically hopeless, and that he could only find relief through a vital spiritual experience. Jung directed him to the Oxford Group.
"Rowland later introduced fellow Vermonter Edwin (‘Ebby’) T. to the group, and the two men along with several others were finally able to keep from drinking by practicing the Oxford Group principles.
"One of Ebby’s schoolmate friends from Vermont, and a drinking buddy, was Bill W. Ebby sought out his old friend at his home at 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn, New York, to carry the message of hope.
"Bill W. had been a golden boy on Wall Street, enjoying success and power as a stockbroker, but his promising career had been ruined by continuous and chronic alcoholism. Now, approaching 39 years of age, he was learning that his problem was hopeless, progressive, and irreversible. He had sought medical treatment at Towns Hospital in Manhattan, but he was still drinking.
"Bill was, at first, unconvinced by Ebby’s story of transformation and the claims of the Oxford Group. But in December 1934, after again landing in Towns hospital for treatment, Bill underwent a powerful spiritual experience unlike any he had ever known. His depression and despair were lifted, and he felt free and at peace. Bill stopped drinking, and worked the rest of his life to bring that freedom and peace to other alcoholics. The roots of Alcoholics Anonymous were planted."