An editorial tribute to Joe McQ

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An editorial tribute to Joe McQ

Postby avaneesh912 » Wed Jul 01, 2009 6:36 am

Just wanted to post this article to illustrate the miracle of program AA:
I was deeply touched by this man and after reading this I was re-invigorated and found this program is not just about staying sober 1 day at a time.


An editorial tribute to Joe McQ. in the state-
wide newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette,
November 2, 2007.


The word from Joe
'It's gonna be okay'

LIFE IS STRANGE. That's not an original obser-vation, since life keeps demonstrating just how strange it is. Consider the life and saving
times of Joseph Daniel McQuany, 1928-2007. Mr. McQuany, who became much better known as just Joe around Little Rock, was one of the most
successful people we've ever heard of.

Joe touched, indeed transformed, the lives of who knows how many tens of thousands in his city, state, country and beyond. He started an
enterprise on a shoestring or less -- a $330 grant and some charitable donations -- that grew into a publishing company, traveling
mission, growing institution, and, most important, a blessing.

The secret of his success? If I hadn't been an alcoholic, he confided to one of the many groups he addressed, I probably would have amounted to nothing.

And all because one day back in 1962, Joe McQuany decided he'd get sober. In those days, he'd recall, white men trying to get on the
wagon could find a treatment program, black men were sent to the State Hospital -- aka the Nut House in the patois of the times --
and as for women alcoholics, the only place for them was jail.

Once detoxed, Joe McQuany knew he'd have to find some way to stay sober. His way was Alcoholics Anonymous, even though, in 1962,
as a black man he would be left out of the social bonding that's such an important if informal part of its program. No matter. He had the Twelve Steps, AA's version of the Ten Commandments, and the Big Book. A testament and a faith. What more does a natural leader
need? Build on it and the people will come.

Soon the man was organizing AA groups himself. He was a whiz at it. Not only because he'd been there and knew the cravings and excuses, the
real desperation and false exhilaration of it all, but maybe because to save himself he had to save others.

JOE McQUANY wound up founding an offshoot of AA himself. He called his program Serenity House before it had a house -- an old one on Broadway
in Little Rock. As his program grew, he moved it to larger and larger quarters.

Serenity House became Serenity Park -- an extended-care sanctuary for all, black or white, penniless or professional, who needed
to get that monkey off their back. You might be surprised at the nice, outwardly successful people who are chemically dependent slaves.
Then again, if you've had much experience of the world, you probably wouldn't be.

Mainly people came to Serenity House not because of the books Joe McQuany would write, or lectures he would give, or the programs he
devised, but because of Joe himself. To quote one of his coworkers and admirers -- but we repeat ourselves -- his soft, unjudging brown
eyes would connect with the souls of others. Joe seemed to look past all the superfici-alities that separate us from one another and
see within the whole creature, sinner man.

You may have met people like Joe on rare occasion -- if you've been fortunate. They've got something special about them, a kind of
almost palpable aura. And you never forget them. They're always there for you; they're always there for everybody. The short word for them may be saints.

The man never tired, not even during his last, four-year struggle with Parkinson's, and he never stopped dreaming. His last great dream
was a treatment center for women. When the ground was broken for that project two years ago, and folks asked where the money was coming
from to finish it, Joe told the paper: I had $300 [when I started]. People said, 'How are you gonna do it?' I said, 'I don't know,' and
I stepped out. I've always stepped out into things, and people have always helped me.

They did again. Construction was completed a few weeks ago, and Joe was there to admire the finished work. It was another of his dreams

He didn't seem surprised. Sitting on a patio overlooking the new building just days before he went into the hospital for the last time,
Joe McQuany kicked back and observed, It's gonna be okay.

JOE McQUANY could have been talking about a lot more than a building; he could have been summing up the message he'd brought to so many,
whatever their station in life, who were poor in spirit. Then they would read one of his books, or leave one of his lectures renewed and resolved, or check out of Serenity House rich in hope and determination. That might've been all they had, but they knew it was going to be enough, it was gonna be okay. A short word for that attitude is faith.

Joe taught folks faith, or rather he would let them come to it. Much as someone might point out the quality of the light on a beautiful fall day, or a harvest moon shining above, or the grace all around us. When it came to knowing how to live a full life free and unhindered, Joe McQuany was his own best example.

At his death last week, condolences poured in from all over, including nearly every state in the Union and 10 foreign countries at last
count. His obituary noted that Joseph Daniel McQuany left behind his wife of 48 years, Loubelle, numerous family (including 12 greatgrandchildren), and friends around the world. Many of those friends have the best
of reasons to be grateful for Joe: a life of their own -- rather than one dictated by the current addiction.

Joe always lived simply. He was interested in a richer life: helping others. Reading this today may be someone out there who is heavy-burdened,
convinced that if it weren't for the particular chemical cross he has to bear, he'd live fully, do great things, amount to something. In 1962
Joe McQuany found himself in that spot, desperate over his weakness, and proceeded to . . . turn it into a strength.

So can you, Troubled Reader. If I hadn't been an alcoholic, I probably would have amounted to nothing.

This newspaper editorial was passed on to me by John Barleycorn, who writes the AA column in the Waynedale News
John was sent this copy by Sherrel J. of El Dorado, Arkansas, whom he met when he went to Little Rock for Joe's funeral.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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