Columnists

Club Opens New Recovery Center ‘For All Who Seek It’

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Mike Malan, 70, of Noblesville, president of Suburban North Club, is pleased to announce today’s opening of a new recovery center, which offers a large space, with moveable partitions, that seats more than 200 people.

Suburban North Club’s new recovery center opens today, just eight months after the building’s ground breaking in September.

Club members, friends from the community, other recovery groups, Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen, major donors, contractors and many others involved in the project are expected to be in attendance at today’s grand opening.

The new $1.9 million recovery center was constructed on property the Club purchased in March 2020 at 16065 Prosperity Drive in Noblesville, and provides three times the square footage of the former recovery center on South 10th Street.

The one-story building — designed by Noblesville architect Darren Peterson — is beautiful and functional. Black wooden rocking chairs greet members on the front porch, where double doors lead inside to a common area, “a safe and sober social Gathering Place” where members can sit around talking with a Coke or cup of coffee in between meetings or before meeting.” On the wall, members will find the latest meeting times displayed on a television screen.

The 6,000-square-foot building, with 85 parking spaces, is designed to accommodate a wide variety of meeting sizes, which could not be done before, and the property also provides parking without infringing on neighbors.

The center has a large room that will seat more than 200 or it can be divided into four 50-person rooms with moveable partitions. There is a medium-size meeting room for 20 and three small rooms for study groups of one-on-one time (each of the three rooms has an historically significant name, Ardmore, Mayflower and Wit’s End). There is a warming kitchen for food service but not cooking. There is a space for kneeling to pray. There is dedicated space for the selling of books, sobriety tokens and Suburban North Club. There are also rare and collectible books written about Alcoholics Anonymous, some signed by AA co-founders Bill Wilson (William G. Wilson) and Bob Smith. There is a lot of “recovery literature.”

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Mike Malan, president of Suburban North Club, will greet guests today at the opening of the Club’s new recovery center, which will offer 6,000 square feet of space and 85 parking spaces.

There is more storage in the new building. And because the Club owns its own building, unlike the former leased location, the club has a lawn mower and trimmer and will be having volunteers to mow and trim the property.

Earlier this week, I caught up with Mike Malan, the club’s president, who was preparing for today’s 3 p.m. gathering, which includes a 3:15 p.m. dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony opening, speakers, food and live music, until 9 p.m.

“It’s as stressful now as it’s ever been,” he said. “I’ve been more stressed this week than ever.”

Malan, a 1970 Noblesville High School graduate, describes the center, a nonprofit serving Hamilton County, as a “very basic building without many amenities” but “functional and cost effective.”

Suburban North is a local, stand-alone entity that while it isn’t affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon and other recovery fellowship groups, the Club is certainly supportive of the groups. “We’re not a treatment center. We offer no professional, psychological, no clinical, no services,” he said.

The Club’s new building will allow the nonprofit to serve many more people in need of recovery.

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Black wooden rocking chairs greet members on the front porch of the new Suburban North Club recovery center, where double doors lead inside to a common area, “a safe and sober social Gathering Place” where members can sit around talking with a Coke or cup of coffee in between meetings or before meeting.”

Malan said he’s “very grateful for the support” received from both inside and outside the recovery community. “Many have given freely of their time and expertise as well as financial support,” he said. Without that, we could not have completed this project to be able to fulfill our Vision of Recovery For All Who Seek It.”

The largest donation for the $1.9 million project came from the Indianapolis Colts, who was represented at the ground-breaking last September by Colts project manager Pat McGuinness of Noblesville. “It’s about sharing the hope,” he said of the Colts organization during that groundbreaking. McGuinness said Colts team owner Jim Irsay wanted to help fund the project but did not reveal the donation amount.

Something rare and unique for Suburban North Club, is that the Club will house and display the original manuscript from which the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was written. The book — by William G. Wilson, co-founder of AA and first published in 1939, and lays out the 12-step method for addiction recovery — is owned by Irsay, who purchased the book at auction for $2.4 million in 2018. The book (which is being digitized) has been placed in a secure Gallery Room in the new Noblesville recovery center on a special display built in Germany.

“It is the foundational document for all 12-step programs. We believe it will touch many lives and provide inspiration and courage at a time it’s needed most. To be in the presence of that document will be special to those in the recovery community,” Malan has said.

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
On the wall of the common area in the new Suburban North Club, a chair hangs alongside the saying on the wall that reads, “We’ve saved a seat for you.”

After the Club got the Colts’ commitment, the Club then contacted Charlie Hill, vice president of Mattingly Construction of Fishers, owned by Steve Mattingly, to talk confidentially about the amount of land needed for their plan.

Malan differentiated between treatment and professional service, which the Club doesn’t provide, and recovery, which can be found at Suburban North Club. “We are one recovering person or group helping another,” he said.

When Malan needed help with an addiction, he came to the Suburban North Club in Noblesville. He has “been clean and sober for 26 years.” Malan spent the first 30 days in a residential treatment center and the rest of the 26 years have been spent in places like Suburban North Club and involved in the recovery community. He came for the club’s 12-step recovery, but he stayed because he found a quality of life in sobriety that he didn’t know was possible.

Malan is still involved because, he said, “Recovery is a connection, a commitment and a way of life.”

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Suburban North Club’s new $1.9 million recovery center was constructed on property the Club purchased in March 2020 at 16065 Prosperity Drive in Noblesville, and provides three times the square footage of the former recovery center on South 10th Street.

Being that the building’s property was purchased just before the pandemic, there were endless delays and setbacks, price increases and delivery issues, Malan said. The weather has also played havoc for paving the parking lot, landscaping and outside preparation, he said. The building’s signage went up on Friday.

At today’s grand opening, Malan will emcee the event, which kicks off at 3 p.m. Dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony begins at 3:15 p.m., with introduction of speakers, Mayor Chris Jensen with opening remarks about the significance of recovery services in Noblesville, former Sheriff and board member Mark Bowen representing Hamilton County Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs, Larry Hall representing the Indianapolis Colts (Hall is the primary keeper of The Jim Irsay Collection and the Original Manuscript), speakers on the history of recovery meetings in Noblesville and on the history of the club in its 24th year in Noblesville, past president and current board member Mark Miller speaking on the club’s mission and vision, and board member and project manager Leigh Michel detailing the  project history.

Following an intermission, Mike Fitzpatrick from Colorado, author and recovery historian, will talk on the “Golden Thread” history of the Original Manuscript. Food will be served by City Barbecue, Ginger’s Cafe, Penn Station, at 6 p.m., and live music from Derek Palmer and the Band Striker until 9 p.m.

Malan said, “It’s been a crazy finish to a crazy project. Today (Tuesday), security is ready to activate, parking lot paved, gazebo for nonsmoking fellowship erected, all keys distributed for secure access, phone and internet service activated, fire marshal and building inspector gave partial approvals, displays set up for literature and sobriety tokens.”

He said, “It’s all coming together at the last minute.”

The Club still needs financial help to complete the project and be able to serve the needs of more people who are in need of hope and recovery. The Club hasgofundme.com and PayPal donation links. 

“We are not a treatment center. We provide no diagnosis, medical or counseling services and are completely non-professional by design,” Malan has said. “It’s one recovering person helping another or doing so in a group.”

More than 50,000 meeting attendees per year come through Suburban North Club, and all meetings and activities are free of charge, although a basket is passed for those who can contribute a dollar or two, he said.

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.