Local man seeking help from community to start Friendship Club for addicts
IDAHO FALLS — A local man is trying to form a group where all those seeking help for their addictions or are recovering from them can spend time together in a safe place.
Joe Shumate has been an addict his entire life. He remembers a Friendship Club being open in Idaho Falls in 1996 when he got clean. He was coming out of the “bar atmosphere” and was grateful to find a place he could go to that was drug- and alcohol-free. He said the Friendship Club contributed to him staying clean for about nine years.
Shumate said the last Friendship Club in Idaho Falls that he’s aware of went away roughly five years ago, and he wants to bring it back.
“There are very few, if any, places in Idaho Falls where somebody can play pool that does not serve alcohol,” he said. “There are a lot of recovery places, even more opening up all the time here in Idaho Falls, that deal with treatment, but they’re affiliated with the court system or making money. The Friendship Club does not want to make any money.”
The Friendship Club is not affiliated with 12-step groups, according to Shumate. He added that Friendship Clubs are in Pocatello and Rexburg.
Right now, a sub-committee is brainstorming ideas and trying to raise money through fundraising and events for a building for the Idaho Falls Friendship Club to call home. The group is also in the process of applying for nonprofit status.
“(We want to) try to keep the lights on and the doors open because there is an addict dying every 30 seconds that couldn’t reach past one small moment,” Shumate said. “We want to be there when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help. We are responsible.”
The club would be free, but private monthly and yearly memberships would be offered. People who sign up for a membership will receive a coffee cup with their name on it, free coffee and a spot to hang their cup on the “pride wall.”
Shumate said he plans to have the Friendship Club open seven days a week, all day long. He said nobody will be turned away, and there will always be somebody there for people to talk to about recovery.
“A lot of people are like I was back then, coming out of the bar atmosphere and trying to get clean,” Shumate explained. “They might have a significant other at home that still drinks or uses, and home isn’t necessarily a safe place.”
As for what activities the Friendship Club will offer, Shumate said, “The possibilities are almost limitless.” From playing pool, a Friday night jam session to Saturday poetry readings, he looks forward to helping those in need, but he said he can’t do it alone.
“We need your support,” Shumate said. “We will not survive without community support.”
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