When Tony Angelini speaks of visiting Akron, Ohio for Founders’ Day it sounds very much like he is talking about a pilgrimage. “For me, Akron is the spiritual centre of a miracle. When you think of all that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has done for us, it all started with two men who brought this powerful solution to the world,” says Tony, Executive Assistant and Office Manager at Renascent.
Just about six hours drive from Toronto is Akron, where Dr. Robert Smith and Bill Wilson began what we know today as Alcoholics Anonymous; with Founders’ Day – June 10, 1935 – being the day that started it all. “Founders’ Day is about honouring the incredible work done by our fore-founders to give us freedom from the bondage of addiction,” says Tony, who has made the trip on multiple occasions
Typically on Founders’ Day, Akron, Ohio is buzzing with activity as members of the recovery community descend upon the town to participate in fellowship and to show gratitude for their sobriety. It’s a trip that Tony is looking forward to taking again and encourages others to do the same once it is safe to do so.
Sober from drugs and alcohol for almost 24 years, Tony’s path to sobriety was challenging. After experiencing multiple relapses and attending different treatment centres, Tony “surrendered” to AA after having almost lost his life to addiction.
“Being gay and an addict felt like a double-edged sword to me. I had this deep seated incorrect belief system and I kept thinking that the reason for my addiction lay with my up-bringing and with me being gay,” explains Tony. “I had to realize that I was a garden variety alcoholic like everyone else,” Tony says with a chuckle.
Today, Tony speaks about how easy it has become for him to stay sober and what a pivotal role AA plays in his life – a stark contrast to where he once was.
“I struggled with accepting AA. I struggled with the religious aspects of it,” he says. “It’s hard to trust religion after hearing how much you are hated by it,” referencing his sexuality. However, after a moment of clarity and hitting his “rock bottom,” Tony decided to embrace the AA methodology and he hasn’t looked back since.
Confident in his sobriety, Tony shares three keys to his success thus far:
- I really benefitted from having a home group that I am actively involved in. I regularly attend meetings and continue to be very engaged in the recovery community.
- I’ve found sponsoring others to be very helpful. For me, sponsoring is about taking the time to help someone else find their road to recovery. We learn so much from others and as the saying goes, “if you really want to learn something, teach it to others.”
- I constantly work on expanding my spirituality. Whether that is through attending uplifting AA conventions, participating in meditation challenges, continually working the steps and being of service to others; I think it all contributes toward my spirituality.