Beswick tapped for recovery space

  • by Cynthia Laird
  • Wednesday May 27, 2009
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Terry Beswick, who informally managed the Castro County Club clean and sober social space for the last several months, has been named interim manager by Baker Places Inc., the nonprofit agency that oversees the project.

Beswick, 49, said that he had assumed managerial responsibilities several months ago when former manager Dan Cusick's health declined. Cusick died April 23 of complications from hepatitis C. He was 50.

The volunteer-run Castro Country Club has been a fixture in the gay neighborhood for over 26 years, providing a clean, sober, and safe space dedicated to the health and well-being of San Francisco's diverse recovery communities and their supporters. Open to the public every day, the club hosts 12-step meetings and other recovery celebrations and community events.

Beswick, who used to be an assistant editor at the Bay Area Reporter, is a gay activist who worked as an AIDS advocate in the Clinton administration. He also is now part of the recovery community, and credits the Castro Country Club for his success.

"It is an honor to step into this role in the wake of Dan's passing," Beswick said in a statement. "The club has played a vital role in this community and has saved many lives, including my own. I am confident that the club will continue and expand this work."

Jonathan Vernick, executive director of Baker Places, told the B.A.R. that the agency has overseen the country club for about 15 years. No city funds are used; Baker Places generally provides between $30,000 and $40,000 to help cover the club's operating expenses. Some revenue also is generated from sale of coffee and other non-alcoholic beverages and facility rental for events.

"Generally there's always some kind of shortfall," Vernick said.

Baker Places provides services to San Francisco residents with mental health, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS related issues.

Vernick added that Beswick will receive a modest stipend for his work, which is full time and also requires him to be on call 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Beswick said there are about 30 active volunteers who each work several hours per week.

The country club is located at 4058 18th Street, between Hartford and Castro streets. The club can be reached at (415) 552-6102 or

Cusick memorial Sat.

In related news, a community memorial service for Cusick will be held Saturday, May 30 at 1 p.m. at Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 100 Diamond Street in the Castro.

Entitled "A Life Lived Out Loud," the memorial will pay tribute to Cusick's work as a longtime AIDS activist, LGBT community leader, and friend to San Francisco's recovery community. A potluck reception will follow the service.