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Anchorage supporters hear tales of the facility’s early days

Local substance abuse facility welcomes new board members at annual meeting

ALBANY —“I’ll cook for one more,” Elise Detweiler said one early December day in 1953 after her husband Stauffer Moses told her about a phone call he had just gotten from a woman whose brother was battling alcoholism and needed a place for him to go to recover.

A day later, another call, and another extra meal cooked. By Christmas the couple, new arrivals in Albany to run a fledgling, Christain-based alcoholism facility, had eight men and a Christmas tree in their apartment and thus the Anchorage was born.

When originally founded in November of that year by Judge Hudson Malone and members of his First Methodist Church Sunday school class, the plan was to have the former Royal Air Force facility across from the Albany Airport renovated and ready to receive clients in March of 1954.

But as Detweiler tells it, the Lord had other plans. Despite hearing from the treasurer at the first Anchorage board meeting that the organization had $300 in the bank and $1,100 in bills, Elise and her husband pressed on, having faith that the Lord would continue to provide.

By the time the organization had reached it’s one year anniversary, that treasurer had another report for the board and he delivered that report, Detweiler remembers, “with tears streaming down his face.”

“It did not work on paper,” Detweiler recounted the treasurer as saying. “This is just not working on paper, but today we’re in the black.”

Of course Detweiler knew why there had been a change, “God provides.”

Such were the nature of the stories Detweiler shared with former and current Anchorage clients, board members and supporters gathered at First United Methodist Church Thursday night at the substance abuse treatment facility’s annual meeting.

Detweiler recounted how she and her husband had previously worked in missions in the northeast, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with what she called people on “skid row.”

Frustrated that many of those they ministered to returned to the streets, the couple travelled to Albany, answering God’s call to help Malone minister to the alcoholic men of south Georgia.

Detweiler held the crowd in rapt attention as she told them about the 10 years she and her husband spent at the facility, telling stories about the first men to complete the program and the outpouring of the support given by the community.

“We thought it was a wonderful city,” Detweiler said. “We were so pleased to have the support of the city and the community.”

It’s been that support, not only given then, but throughout the past 60 years, that has helped the organization bring recovery through Jesus Christ to nearly 15,000 men.

In hopes of being able to help even more men in the future, the annual meeting also served as a way of showcasing the recovery facility and welcoming new board members who help advocate and raise awareness and donations for the program.

“Albany is very fortunate to have something like this in our midst,” said board chairman Clay Chester. “We need to say thanks to God for putting it here and blessing it.”

In addition to hearing remarks from Detweiler, the meeting also featured a testimonial from a former Anchorage client, songs performed by a choir of current clients and the installation of new board members Harold Boling, Lin Harris, Ed Hudson and Matthew Melvin.