LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The West End Token Club in Louisville is making a big impact on a small budget, improving the lives of those recovering from alcohol and drug addictions.
The Black-founded and operated center led by volunteers provides 12 Step programs including Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon (for friends and family of addicts), Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous.
What You Need To Know
- The Token Club provides a safe and welcoming gathering place for 12-step recovery from addiction
- About 18,000 people visit the center annually for meetings and support
- Up to 6 meetings are held 7 days a week and provides space to meet with sponsors
- Its low cost community kitchen offsets operation cost
The center provides services to 300-500 people on the road to addiction recovery daily, and its low-cost community kitchen keeps the center open.
Maurice Douglas is a volunteer cook at the center low cost community kitchen.
Every piece of fish he batters, chicken he seasons and French fry he fries with love, Douglas is making a difference in the lives of people recovering from alcohol and drug addictions.
“I get a crowd in here every day. Every day I get a crowd in here,” said Douglas.
Before he started volunteering in the kitchen, Douglas volunteered his time to keep the outside of the center clean and tidy.
“They were like man you here everyday and you doing this and that come on in, so I go on in and next thing I know I’m out there mopping. Next thing I know I'm behind the bar. Next thing I know I was in the kitchen,” said Douglas.
Volunteers like Douglas make hundreds of meals each day and that helps keep the doors of the center open.
“I love it. Keeps me out of trouble. Keeps me from the old neighborhood,” Douglas added.
Located in a food desert, the kitchen’s menu prices are kept low to increase accessibility and those unable to pay are provided meals at no cost.
“Now when they are not getting high no more, they like buying food,” he said.
Douglass knows that from experience.
He hasn’t always been a cook. It’s something he picked up while working in the kitchen during a prison sentence.
“It’s been five years. Five years out of prison, staying clean the whole time,” says Douglas.
Giving back is an important part of recovery at the center. It’s not part of the 12 steps, but longtime club member Travis Darby embraces the mantra.
“AA is a lifetime movement that helps you recover for life,” Darby said. “I give of myself by letting people who are not so sober see me volunteer mopping floors, setting up chairs, cleaning the bathrooms, which could be really gross.”
Darby found the help he needed to regain control over his life during his addiction battle at the center.
Now he serves on the board and as a sponsor, helping those trying to reach sobriety.
Since joining the token club family, Darby has had two daughters, earned three degrees, and is one year from upgrading his 14 years clean token to 15 years.
“It just made it where I didn't want to give this up for anything like it was my most cherished possession,” says Darby.
It doesn’t matter if a person has been sober for 20 years or 20 minutes. The West End Token Club is the place to hear shared stories, sober successes, and receive endless support on the road to recovery.
“It’s giving them a place to go. It’s giving them hope. They can see things in other people. They can be like well if he can do it, I can do it,” says Douglas.
The West End Token Club board is hoping to raise $50,000 to move into a bigger facility, upgrade its kitchen, and support more people on their road to recovery.
To learn about sponsors, sister organizations or how you can help make that happen, click here.