A History of the Origin of The Way Out Club in Greenfield
By 2001, A.A. had grown to ten meetings per week in Hancock County. Most of these meetings were naturally being held in various churches, and numerous conflicts such as scheduling, parking and smoking begin to arise. In the Spring of that year a small group of individuals began to speak of the need for a more stable and friendly environment for meetings. On July 1st, 2001 a meeting was held to see how much interest there might be in an A.A. club. Thirty-two people attended this meeting and were asked to pledge $ 100 each towards start up costs if they were really interested. During the next few weeks $2600 was collected, various committees were formed and trips were made to several A.A. clubs for information, education and direction. On September 27th, 2001 the first annual membership meeting of the Club was held. The first order of business was to vote on a name and The Way Out Club won the vote. A draft of By-Laws was presented, and each Article was read, explained, discussed, amended and voted on until they were complete. The last order of business was the election of a Board of Trustees. Then began an exhaustive search that lasted for several months to find a suitable and affordable site. Over forty locations in and around Greenfield were explored. In March of 2002 the bottom floor of the old Leary's Bottled Gas building became available and a lease was signed on April 10th. An urgent call for assistance was issued, and the response was overwhelming. Donations of furniture, appliances, building material, money and help poured in from the membership and the A.A. community at large. Members worked day and night erecting walls, building bathrooms, meeting rooms, offices and the coffee shop. On May 1st, 2002 the Club opened with the Greenfield Guys Gratitude Group being the first meeting. There were only three meetings during that first week, but soon others moved in and new meetings started up. By the Clubs 5th anniversary, over 60,000 people had attended meetings and workshops at this facility.
It became apparent by the second year that space would become a problem in the future. Also, in studying the history of other clubs around Central Indiana, seldom does a club that leases space stay in one location permanently. With this in mind, the Board of Trustees set up a dedicated "Build or Move Fund" during 2003 and began to direct as much of the Club's operating capital into it as possible.
During 2006 the Board appointed a Building Committee consisting of past and present Board Members and interested Club Members. They established the criterion to be used in searching for a new location. These consisted of geographical location, square footage needed, parking availability, zoning and price.
The search began and was to last many months. Dozen of possibilities were explored and rejected; realtors were contacted, all to no avail. Finally, in May of 2007, an article in the local newspaper hinted that the Eagle's Lodge might be closing. Contact was made and negotiations were opened before it could go on the open market. Zoning, permits, utilities and local regulations and ordinances were researched. Financing was firmed up and a deal was struck late in July.
Remodeling began in August, although it more resembled demolition in the beginning. The ceiling and insulation were torn out, the office area leveled, the rest rooms gutted, the floors stripped, and the old flat roof taken off. About all that was left were eight bare walls, the floor and the bar. Two months, dozens of volunteers and hundreds of man hours later the Club was ready. The first meeting at this new facility was held by the Greenfield Guys Gratitude Group on Wednesday, October 31st, 2007. By the Club's 11th anniversary, over 144,750 people had attended meetings and workshops since the Clubs beginning.