17 Aug Meet Bo!
If you happen upon a group of members laughing at our Minneapolis Clubhouse, there’s a very good chance that Bo Johnson is at the center of that set. A Vail Place member for the past 11 years, Bo’s effervescent smile and infectious sense of humor have become a mainstay in Minneapolis.
Laughter didn’t always come so easily for Bo, however. A native Mississippian, Bo joined his sister in the Twin Cities in 1996 after his mother passed away. For the next several years Bo struggled with alcoholism, staying sober for three or four months before slipping yet again. Demonstrating the determination and resilience that is so common among Vail Place members, Bo refused to give up. On November 24, 2004 we are pleased to report Bo began a period of sobriety that continues to this day.
Bo’s life took another major turn in 2005 when a case worker suggested he check out Vail Place. He arrived for a tour of the Minneapolis Clubhouse in July of that year and has been a member ever since. “Coming to the Clubhouse woke me up as a person, as I really had to relearn how to live life in sobriety,” Bo says. “I’m a new man now and I owe it to Vail Place.”
Bo’s initial job at the Clubhouse was vacuuming before morning meetings. Like so many new members, however, his first big responsibility was running the snack bar. It was taking on that role that helped him, as he says, “get his self-esteem back.”
“I still have family here in town, but the members here are also my family,” Bo says. “For many members, this is their only family now. I do my best to sit back and get to know those folks first. When I can figure out the best way to reach out to them, I let them know I’m available if they need to talk.”
This empathy, and an understanding that each member may be responsive to a different type of approach, have turned Bo into a mentor within the Clubhouse. He tries to help new members, many of whom know they can rely on him when they need someone to listen. And although it’s been a long time since Bo ran the snack bar, he helps out in the Clubhouse wherever it’s needed, whether it’s helping carry groceries downstairs or mopping the kitchen floor.
“Vail Place is somewhere I can come to settle my mind down,” says Bo, who typically frequents the Minneapolis Clubhouse each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. “Out on the streets there’s nothing but trouble but here, it’s safe.”