Serving the People of Hawaii Since 1960
The Halfway House for Men opened its' doors in October of 1960.
The services to be provided included the basics; food, clothing and shelter. In addition, the men would be allowed to detox and would have classes through the day to allow for more in-depth study and discussion of the 12 steps of AA. Stabilization in a new and more satisfying way of life was the goal set for each man.
There was no money available to fund treatment at that time so there was no charge for these services. Dick, Sid and Jimmy worked for no salary. Dick worked the legal and political side, Sid ran the day to day operation and Jimmy the Hop became the "scrounger" for any items needed to keep the place going.
At one point Jimmy went to Kilgo's Hardware and told them to load up 15 brand new, shiny galvanized trash cans in the back of his truck. After having done so, Mr. Kilgo asked Jimmy who was going to pay for the trash cans. Jimmy replied " You are. " and drove away. Mr. Kilgo never refused to help when the Halfway house was in need.
Jimmy took the trash cans and placed them at various AA meetings around Oahu and group members would bring canned goods and put them into the trash cans at the meetings. Jimmy would periodically go around and collect the food and take it back to the Halfway House to help feed the men.
During lean times Dick and Sid and Jimmy and Johnny Holt would take turns digging into their own pockets to pay whatever expense might be threatening to derail the pioneering work being done at the Halfway House. This would continue to be the manner of operation for the first 13 years of the Foundation's service to the people of Hawaii.
On the patient's side, some of the men still had jobs and, where it was possible, they would be allowed to go back to work and then return to the Halfway House in the evening. Many men were simply dropped off by family members who just couldn't "deal with it" any longer.
The thing these men had in common was the "inability to maintain abstinence in the absence of a supportive environment that provided adequate external behavioral controls."
Further, without the "clearing " effect of a sufficient period of abstinence, they lacked the "ability to comprehend the true nature of their addiction and its' impact on their own lives and the lives of their loved ones."
Lacking this comprehension, of the nature of their addiction and its' damaging impact, these men had repeatedly "failed to invest sufficient energy and attention into developing a workable plan to establish and protect abstinence and to devise and then execute a plan to repair the damage that their alcoholism had caused in their lives."
The Halfway House filled the gap. It provided a secure environment, with external behavioral controls. Classes on the 12 step program of AA, along with the positive peer group support of the fellowship, provided direction for the development of individual recovery plans. Sid and Dick and Jimmy knew that environment and direction were key elements in assisting this population with recovery.
Dick also used to say " Alcoholics are not like bricks in a brickyard. They are all different and it will take what it takes to help them get better. We're not going to give up on them if they aren't giving up on themselves."
It was for this reason that the treatment term was allowed to "float" allowing each person the time they needed to adjust that which needed to be adjusted. Dick and Sid and Jimmy fully expected recovery and lifelong contented sobriety for each person, if the conditions that would allow that change were met.
Initially licensed for 15 beds, it soon became clear that the problem was much bigger than that. The first time Sid was faced with the decision to turn someone away, because there were no empty beds, he chose a course of action that would come to characterize our commitment to help.
Being surrounded by an auto junkyard, at the end of each day, those men without a bed would be assigned to sleep in one of the abandoned cars. The next morning a person could see scores of disheveled, but grateful, men emerging from those old abandoned cars and moving toward the Halfway House where hot coffee, breakfast and another day of growing sobriety was waiting for them.
Dick and Sid and Jimmy were real people who had suffered from a terrible and degrading condition. Their only motivation in all of this was gratitude for that which they had found and a desire to try to help end the suffering of those who were still lost.
They were not "polished" professionals. They had heart. They truly cared about the people coming to them for help and they had no shame when it came to helping someone on the bottom.
Although their actions, in many cases, lacked the level of tact and diplomacy that would have made them easier to like, their unwavering commitment to helping the person standing right in front of them, regardless of that person's position or standing in the community, caused them to be loved by all who benefited from the strength of their support for the suffering alcoholic.
Today treatment agencies need to try, very hard, to remember what motivated the best of those special people in each of their beginnings. When the "founding" spirit is gone away from any organization, intended in it's origins to help people, it becomes nothing more than a cash register.
I once heard Sid say, " Any a-----e can shut one of these things down. Starting one up and keeping it running for the right reasons, now that takes something special."
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