Clean and Sober Social Space
Since first opening its doors in April 1983, the mission of the Castro Country Club has been to serve as a clean and sober gathering place for all people and to be a home for the queer recovery community. Bars have historically served as a place of shelter from the prejudices and secrecy many LGBTQ people were forced to endure. For many people for whom alcohol and drug use have become a problem, there was a need for a place in the Castro to socialize and support one another. The Castro Country Club was formed to meet the needs of this community.
As a safe space where all can seek wisdom, serenity, courage, and joy, the Castro Country Club has become a haven for many sober LGBTQ folks and our allies in San Francisco, a welcome refuge for those new to recovery, and a place often frequented by visitors to San Francisco in search of a recovery meeting. The Club is open 365 days a year and features a welcoming casual environment, a spacious back patio, and a full-service coffee shop proudly serving Peet’s coffee and teas, and other beverages and food.
Home to Recovery in the Castro
While there is no requirement that users of the Castro Country Club be actively involved in a program of recovery, serving the recovery community is paramount to the Club’s mission. To that end, our meeting room is home to dozens of groups in many Twelve Step and recovery fellowships. Over 3,000 people attend meetings in the Club every month. Outside of meetings, the meeting room, café, and patio are used daily as a place to engage in recovery-related work, whether individually, in groups, or with a sponsor or mentor. The Club further supports individuals in recovery by making available for purchase a variety of recovery fellowship resources, such as books, workbooks, and daily meditation guides.
Community, Fellowship, and Peer Support
Recovery can mean an end to isolation and the start of experiencing being part of something greater than one’s self. While a sense of fellowship and peer support may develop naturally from socializing in our space and sharing experiences, the Castro Country Club actively fosters the development of this vibrant community. The Club sponsors a softball team, and hosts monthly and periodic events including drag and talent shows, holiday gatherings, and rafting trips and other recreational activities. The Club is also available to and frequently used by patrons for parties, weddings, and other celebrations.
This sense of community is both exemplified and maintained by the thousands of hours of service provided by hundreds of volunteers throughout the year. Not only is the café operated and maintained by volunteer baristas, many more Castro Country Club volunteers contribute to community improvement projects by participating in CCC We Care as well as support community events such as Folsom Street Events, AIDS Walk, SF Pride, and the Castro Street Fair. Many of the our volunteers have shared that having the opportunity to be of service at these iconic San Francisco events gives them the ability to continue to enjoy them in a new way that doesn’t jeopardize their recovery.
Job Training and Skills-Building Program
The Castro Country Club café is operated and maintained by over 50 volunteers. Volunteering at the Club provides an opportunity to strengthen one’s recovery through service to others – an integral component of many recovery programs. For many people whose lives have been impacted by addiction, volunteering can be instrumental in the preparation for returning to work.
Recognizing this, the Castro Country Club established a formal Job Training and Skills Building (JTSB) program in partnership with PRC (formerly Positive Resource Center) in 2016. Eligible volunteers who elect to enroll in this program receive education, training, and supportive services to aid in finding and maintaining employment, or to further prepare themselves by enrolling in school. The JTSB program is designed to utilize the Club’s full-service coffee shop to develop participants’ job-related skills and attributes in a structured environment that is empathetic and supervised. In addition to the practical job-related duties performed on-site, enrollees in the program have the opportunity to participate in employment counseling, interviewing and resume writing, computer skills training, and are introduced to additional resources and support services.
Community Arts Program
The goal of the Castro Country Club Community Arts Program is to provide an opportunity for our community and the general public to experience, appreciate, and understand various art forms. The Club gallery routinely exhibits work by local artists, both professional and emerging, in a safe space that garners recognition and respect for artistic expression.
Castro Country Club patrons spearheaded the Club’s drag and talent extravaganza in 2010. Since then, Mascara has been a venue for artistic expression, featuring the talents of the San Francisco drag community as well as debuting local performance artists, singers, and dancers. We endeavor to offer a welcoming and festive atmosphere that grants opportunities for amateur artists and those interested in discovering their artistic talents to collaborate, share experiences, and engage in dialogue about personal expression and artistic process.