by Dennis Dalman
“D.K.,” a recovering alcoholic who lives in Sartell, keeps hoping more people will come to the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Sartell.
Many people, he presumes, do not even know there is an AA meeting place in Sartell and so attend meetings in other cities or do not attend meetings at all. Every Thursday, at 6:30 p.m., recovering alcoholics meet in the basement of “The Gathering Place,” the building on the east of the St. Francis Xavier Church grounds.
Anywhere from eight to 15 people, whom D.K. calls the “regulars,” meet there. Some nights, other people, new ones, drop in for a meeting or two, but usually it’s the same people, which is fine, D.K. said, although it would be nice to have more people come, he added.
“We’re not a clique,” he said. “We welcome anybody with open arms.”
D.K. has lived in Sartell for 40 years.
“Back then, there were maybe only 800 or so people here,” he said. “Now, with a population of more than 15,000, I’m sure there are lots of people who could benefit from our AA meetings, people who are struggling.”
D.K. joined the Sartell AA five years ago. “Each Thursday, a different member is given the key to get the room ready,” he said. “The person makes coffee, and that person can also pick a topic we discuss. We have a lot of good discussions on so many topics.”
D.K., who is in his early 60s, is also a facilitator for the “Recovery Plus Senior” program in St. Cloud, a treatment-and-support group for people 50 or older.
He said about 95 percent of people who suffer relapses into drinking or drug addictions back-slide because they either never went to AA-type meetings or they quit going to them. D.K. also said as soon as someone thinks they can successfully quit on their own, that right there is a sign of trouble on the way, of “falling off the wagon.”
AA groups, he said, give the kind of encouragement, support and camaraderie recovering alcoholics (or drug abusers) so badly need.
Some of the members in the Sartell group are out-of-towners.
“But that’s just fine,” D.K. said. “We welcome anybody. There are also four women who are regulars in our group. The youngest member of our group is a gal in her 30s. The oldest is a guy in his 70s.”
D.K. invites anybody who would like to come to the group, or give it a try, should just show up at 6:30 p.m. on any Thursday.
“We’ll definitely make them feel welcome,” he said.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.