Club Oasis History

A Brief History Of How We Came To Be

About Club Oasis

In the late 1970s, many of the local AA community members of central Palm Beach County felt that there was a need for an AA clubhouse north of the Triangle Club location in West Palm Beach.  They also felt that a new, additional clubhouse would allow for a relief of some of the troubling activity experienced by the club patrons due to the surrounding neighborhood at the original location of the Triangle Club on 4th street in downtown West Palm.  

Club Oasis was founded in 1978 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and incorporated as the current not-for-profit 501(c)3 on August 31 of that same year.  Club Oasis was named collectively from the group conscious of the original founding members.  One hundred original founding members’ membership cards were issued at $100 each to help fund the establishment of the new club.  Seventy of the 100 cards were sold and two or three were refunded at the request of the purchasing parties. The original meeting location was at the corner of Prosperity Farms Road and PGA Blvd at 2538 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, in what was the old Winn Dixie plaza.

Club Oasis was founded by Henry (Hank) S.  Born on December 17, 1935, a 10 year veteran of the United States Air Force.  Hank got sober on March 18,1975 following a failed suicide attempt. Hank came to under his airplane covered in his own vomit. The airplane never left the ground as Hank was too drunk to even get in the aircraft. Hank then broke into his own office and called Jimmy W.  The two of them attended an AA meeting upstairs at the Old Horse bank in Riviera Beach. Hank never drank again.  Hank served as the original President of the Club Oasis Board of Directors for the first year (1979) until the first members’ elected Board of Directors was put in place approximately one year later (1980) under the guidelines according to the Club Oasis by-laws documented in the interim. 

The original Club Oasis Board of Directors included Henry Silvia (President), Michael Puder-Harris, Betsy Strickland, Newton Burnett, Doris Woods, Charles Barnes. Mary Lou Clark became the first President of the Board of Directors as the result of the first members’ elected board following Hank’s interim President board position.  Mary Lou is also reportedly to have been the first ever female President of an AA Clubhouse in the country at the time.  

Club Oasis relocated temporarily from the original PGA Blvd. location to 420 U.S. Hwy 1, North Palm Beach, in 1988 before moving to the current property at 10859 Prosperity Farms Road.  The current property is owned by the Club Oasis Inc. entity and the property was acquired through the sole effort of Lou S in cooperation with Thomas B.

Lou S. was born in the Azores, an autonomous group of islands west of Portugal, on September 3, 1946 on the island of Santa Maria. Growing up in the Azores, Lou’s family was poor. Living conditions were without electricity or running water. Lou’s father was an alcoholic and fisherman.  Lou’s family moved to Canada when he was a young boy and eventually the family moved to Palm Beach County, Florida where Lou subsequently got into the real estate business.

Lou did get sober on May 21, 1986 when, for the very first time, he was able to accept complete powerlessness over alcohol, admit to himself, and to all those that mattered, “My name is Lou and I am an alcoholic.”  Lou never took another drink. The desire to drink had left him. A transformation had taken place and Lou’s life was set on a new course.  Lou discovered genuine purpose and new accomplishments that far out-weighed any previous success he had.

During the late 1980s, Club Oasis was looking for a new meeting place to move to from the location on US1.  Groups of alcoholics coming and going, meeting together in outlets at strip malls brought many challenges and unhappy folks that viewed them from a distance.  Not well received, it was obvious that somewhere more suitable for a meeting location was going to be necessary.

Although at one time in the earlier days of the club, there were grandiose plans of building a brand new 2-story waterfront complex/clubhouse across the street from the current location on Prosperity Farms road that would include docks and a swimming pool, Lou’s idea for the acquisition of 10859 Prosperity Farms road was not well received and garnered no interest from club members or the board of directors.  With no real money or capital at the time, it seemed impossible or at best, highly unlikely that Club Oasis would be in any position to acquire a property assessed around $360,000 in the late 1980s. Sober just 3 years at the time, Lou was on his own and faced what seemed an impossible venture. But intuition told Lou that the current property was destined to be the real home of Club Oasis.

Lou became aware of the property at 10859 Prosperity Farms Road through his normal real estate business dealings.  The property was originally developed in 1976 by John B., a well-known builder and developer in Palm Beach County for Lemar Parrish who owned the property at 10859 Prosperity Farms Road prior to the Club Oasis acquisition.

Lemar Parish is a former professional football player who played defensive back in the National Football League from 1970 to 1982  for the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins, and Buffalo Bills.  Lemar’s football career was worthy of mention for him to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Lemar graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Riviera Beach, Florida.  Played football for Lincoln University of Missouri from 1966 to 1969 and was named All-American in 1969.

After some years of struggling with alcoholism and addiction Lemar Parrish lost the property at 10859 Prosperity Farms Road due to foreclosure by the bank which held the mortgage on the property. Lemar went to treatment and got sober in 1986. He later returned to his alma mater, Lincoln University of Missouri, and earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in psychology. Parrish eventually served as head coach of the Blue Tigers football team from 2004 to 2009. In 2012, he was inducted into the Lincoln University athletic hall of fame. 

 

In 1988 the property at 10859 Prosperity Farms Road was held by the bank that foreclosed on the mortgage.  John B., the original developer of the property for Lamar Parish also happened to be a trustee of that same bank. John’s father, Lou, a retired Air Force colonel, reportedly died of alcoholism and John’s son, Thomas, had his own struggles with drinking.  Thomas had attended a noontime meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and remained sober. John B. and his family were no strangers to the struggles of alcoholism or strangers to the fellowship and program of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous.

While Lou had attempted to broker a deal for the property from the bank through the help of John, Lou knew any deal would need to be structured appropriately for the future health and stability of Club Oasis. As a result Lou had to turn down a deal that would have allowed Club Oasis to start meeting at the former home of the NFL star Lemar Parish, but the deal would have left the Club off the deed for the property. Lou could not compromise, the property had to belong to the Club and be in the Club’s name regardless of the fact that the financial condition of the Club was in no position to take on that kind of debt.

Lou S. and Thomas B. were acquaintances in the rooms of AA.  Brothers in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and brothers in the Fellowship of the Spirit.  With the help of Thomas, a deal was structured that included a quitclaim deed of the property from the bank to John B.  Then 2 mortgages were taken out on the property, one assumed by John B. and the second mortgage assumed by Club Oasis Inc., allowing for the transfer of the property to the Club Oasis Inc entity on February 23, 1989.  The very first meeting at the current location, 10859 Prosperity Farms Road, was held on Saturday February 25, 1989 at 12 noon.

These individuals responsible for establishing Club Oasis have in common the interest of the opportunity for the alcoholic to recover and the society in which we carry the message to self-sustain.  Remarked one of them.. “It is one thing in my life I have done right.” Altruistic in the truest sense – unselfishness, entire absence of profit motive, and community spirit. Never have they desired any accolades or even recognition for their part. Always forthcoming that they did not do anything without the help of many other people, who without which nothing would have been possible and that divine intervention as intuition and a greater knowing guided them.  

 

It is known that Lemar Parish is well aware that the former home he had built in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida after retiring from a very respectable and successful career in the NFL and which he had lost to the bank, defaulting on the property mortgage as the result of ever more serious alcoholism and drug addiction is the location of a well-respected, much-loved, and model AA clubhouse.  

 

Credit for the wall art in the Serenity/Jaguar room and the mural of the seascape in the big room goes to Dale McGrinn (1960-2020). Sober since 1992, a member of the club and a very dear friend of the recovery community, Dale was a local artist who studied under the famous artist RW and had his studio in the neighboring village of Lake Park, FL. Credit for the painting of “The Man on the Bed” behind the desk in the big room was a contribution by Douglas Montross (1933-2004). Douglas was a painter, illustrator and member of the local recovery community, sober 36 years at the time of his passing.

The Club Oasis Board of Directors encourages anyone with additional information that may be beneficial to expanding on the current history or has information that may be contrary to anything contained herein to contact the Board of Directors at – cluboasisbod@gmail.com.  It is the mission of the board of directors to record and promote our history of the club that has meant so much to so many and that we may use this history as a bond that builds a stronger community for those to follow.