|The Cabrito Foundation had its beginning
in the yearning for a Recovery House in the Central and West San Fernando
Valley. After two years of hesitation, one of the founders sought out three
or four interested members of Alcoholics Anonymous. They located a dilapidated
house in an industrial weed patch that had been condemned and ordered demolished
by the Fire Department.
They then contacted the owners and made arrangements to renovate and maintain the property on a free basis for a period of time to justify the tremendous task, after which a rental would apply. There were no windows, wiring, plumbing or other qualifications for human habitation. In addition to the house being derelict, the deal required the clearing of a 300-foot lot in back that had been overgrown and used as a dump for years.
Some of the group of nine were able to put in all of their spare time. The house and lot were cleared by many truckloads of weeds, garbage, trash and rubble. Walls were cleaned, scraped and painted; floors were cleaned and waxed; window frames, windows, doors and locks were installed. At the same time, this small group organized a rummage sale which produced around one thousand dollars, plus furnishing the House. Government money was offered but courteously refused.
SELF-HELP had become the theme! Alcoholics know that their chance to survive depends upon their willingness to take a spiritual direction and help themselves. For years, they had done nothing but take from others . . .financially, socially, emotionally and physically.
Paint, equipment, labor, furnishings, rummage and sometimes money began to seep in from other alcoholics. Still, the handful of founders were drained of time, labor and money. At no time though, did they doubt the success of the project.
One idea that possessed them was that recovering alcoholics released from State and private agencies, or straight off the street, would not have to live under clinical conditions as they adjusted...and that their residence should be cheerful and pleasant. One of the most pressing problems of the hard core alcoholic is his lack of a beginning point that stimulates his buried desire to live normally.
After several months of work, encouragement and success, the owners of the property notified them that after being vacant five years, they had found a builder of industrial properties who wanted the location. With the prearranged 90-day notice, the group turned itself to the task of relocation.
Attorneys had completed the bylaws and a meeting of the incorporators and interested alcoholics was called to elect a permanent Board of Trustees and a new set of Corporate Officers. An Executive Committee of nine, including the officers, was an amalgamation of the founders group with a dynamic and enthusiastic new group. This was the fresh vitality and dedicated combination needed.
All of the time, even before the windows were in (or the plumbing, lighting, painting and furniture) the House had started bedding men with no other place to go. As the men came, furnishings came; food was prepared; jobs were located and AA meetings were held.
With the beginning of the second organizational phase, the House had already aided many men. Welfare checks were refused. Men drawing unemployment or other benefits were told they must proceed to re-enter society on a self-supporting basis immediately, if they were to stay at the House.
No one was turned away because of lack of money, race or extraneous reasons. The only criteria was a desire to stay sober by not drinking and willingness to practice the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
It must be pointed out that AA allies itself with no organization, but the organization may base its precepts on those of AA without binding either in any way to the other. In the opinion of the founders and their successors, this necessarily involves the willingness to be self-supporting and to become productive members of society.
The revitalized organization had great
difficulties in finding a new location, with time running out. On two occasions
they found perfect locations beyond their wildest expectations, only to
have them crumble at the last moment. On one of these occasions the leases
had been signed and the money paid over, only to find the purported lessors
were without the authority they claimed.
In December 1970, six months after the
very nucleus of the beginning of the Foundation a site was located accidentally
in that it was not up for lease in an active sense, but was vacant.
It is here that the present House is located. It is a two story, custom-made,
beamed ceiling beautiful house with grounds that include a large swimming
Almost one hundred men had passed through the auspices of the Foundation in its first year. A recent study shows that of these twenty-five percent are known to be sober, twenty-five percent left sober but are unknown at this time and fifty percent have drank since leaving. Of that fifty percent, many are known to be sober today. Any authority on Alcoholism will immediately admit that these figures are unequalled anywhere outside of Alcoholics Anonymous itself where the figures are unknown exactly but acknowledged to be astounding.
The Foundation realizes that its dedication to AA, without affiliation, has been the moving factor in its success. The House is the Recovered Alcoholic's way of practicing the Twelfth Step of AA, which is "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." The Foundation furnishes the point for beginning, which is one dilemma of the alcoholic lost for years in an unreal world without a beginning or end. This beginning is partly the gaining of self-respect, confidence and hope.
In March 1971, Pat Boone, who is interested in the Foundation, hosted a complete show with his family and other celebrities of the entertainment industry. The money raised by that highly successful evening, along with the funds raised by the Founders' Day Banquet, will go to the purchase of the present premises.
The Foundation intends to continue these semi-annual events, using the funds to aid other communities of Recovered Alcoholics to open similar Residences in every area. The SELF-HELP theme will be the Order of the Day in all undertakings. The willingness to help one-self through a spiritual program of recovery is the only known mass solution to the monumental social problems of Alcoholism.