This week’s Here’s To Your Health, is a memorial to Joseph Daniel McQ. 1928-2007. He was commonly and internationally known as Joe on the Joe/Charlie Recovery Tapes. Joe peacefully passed from this life a few weeks ago with a serenity this world could neither give, nor take away. In his final interview by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette he said, “It’s Gonna Be Okay!” “It’s not an original observation,” he said, “that life is strange and my life keeps demonstrating just how strange it is.” Joe touched, indeed transformed, the lives of who knows how many tens of thousands of chronic alcoholics in his city, state, country and beyond. Joe started an enterprise on a shoestring budget—a $330 grant and some charitable donations—that grew into a publishing company, traveling mission, growing institution, and most important, a divine blessing. What was the secret to his astonishing success? “If I hadn’t been an alcoholic,” he confided, “I probably would have amounted to nothing.”
The Wolfe Street Foundation was founded in 1982 by three recovering alcoholics in Little Rock Arkansas—the late Gene W., a Little Rock businessman—and the late Bert J. and an internationally known expert on alcoholism named Joe McQ. In the fall of 1982, the newly formed Foundation leased 1210 Wolfe Street which had served most recently as a nurse’s residence for Baptist Medical Systems Inc., and before that as a funeral home. They began cleaning it up under the direction of its first president, Gerald Cathey, and in 1985 the Foundation bought the building.
The center wanted for little. And the chronically afflicted came in ever increasing numbers. On warm summer nights they gathered outside the house on Wolfe Street and laughed in the gathering dusk. When winter came, they found a congenial refuge from the cold in the Centers comfortable rooms. Many got better and were able to help others deal with their alcoholism. Last year, some 100,000 visitors passed through the old two-story frame house at 1210 Wolfe Street hoping to find some measure of peace and serenity. Many will find what they are looking for, tragically, others will not, but most will never again be the same. The Wolfe Street Center is owned and operated by the Wolfe Street Foundation, Inc., a non-profit tax exempt, charitable corporation governed by a 12 member board, most of them recovering alcoholics. Besides providing a meeting place for those seeking recovery it has provided a place where loved ones and others affected by addicted people can find solace. Today there are 40 meetings a week and a variety of special events for those who are participating in 12-step programs, men/women dormitories and Serenity Garden. Wolfe Street is engaged in programs focused on getting well rather than on financial retribution, or incarceration. A number of facts prove the Wolfe Street Foundation is practicing good stewardship with their funds. It costs only 80 cents a person to provide the Center’s facilities. Less than 20 percent of the annual budget goes towards administration costs and the Center maintains a prudent reserve to cover operating expenses in case of an emergency.
John Barleycorn’s first home group on Carew Street in Fort Wayne was influenced by Joe after several members of that group attended a Joe and Charlie seminar in Chicago in 1970. The JC tapes were passed to Barleycorn and he started a meeting based on those same tapes. Although Joe has passed from this world, his voice can still be heard every Tuesday night at the Genessee Avenue tape meeting…Donations or membership in the Wolfe Street Foundation can be accessed via their website. > www.wolfestreet.org <