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Sobered Up & Ready to Help


"Before I came to Amherst, I lived in Holyoke, and I was a terrible alcoholic by that point-- at 43 years old-- I was finally sent to detox, and they determined that I probably needed a little more time for my sobriety, so they offered me to be manager of this halfway house in Holyoke, on Beach Street. I’m not sure whether it’s still there or not… But I was manager of that house for three years, and I only lost one person. My unorthodox way of doing it was every guy that wanted to smoke marijuana, and did anyway-- uh, whenever they wanted a drink, I would tell them to go down to the cellar and smoke a joint and pretend that was their shot, or their drink. So they did that, that lasted for three years, and I only lost one person who was a reporter for the Gazette who found out we were smoking pot and tried to report us! But he couldn’t, because he was alcoholic. However, the manager of the program that hired me to run the halfway house came to inspect the house one day, and found a joint of my assistant manager’s on the basement floor, and me, stupidly, opened my mouth and said “Tommy! What did you do?” He was like, “I didn’t do anything, Dave!” and it was so funny, but I was so embarrassed after that that I left that job. So, I came to Amherst, fortunately, and the Methodist church kept me sober by giving me a job, and sent me to the university. After three years at the university, I became a professional pipe organist and got a job at St. Brigid’s, which lasted for 40 years, and now I’m retired. Again, I’m working on the streets with alcoholics. But it’s not the same as the halfway house was, that was a great experience. After I went to the university and got the organist choir director job at St. Brigid’s, I totally forgot about my alcoholic experience because I just… I just didn’t think about drinking anymore at all. For 40 years. It wasn’t until after I retired from the church that I didn’t know what to do with my life, ‘cause I’m used to working. And I thought in my mind, well, what did Jesus do? He had these same problems in his time-- he helped the homeless, he fed the poor; I just try to follow that for the rest of my life to make up for the first part of my life that was, uh, pretty bad because I was so alcoholic. After I sobered up, now-- finally, after retirement-- I can go back to what I’m really supposed to be doing."

Earlier Event: October 6
On the Reservation
Later Event: October 16
A Big Boy Scout