Proposal 10: GROW Sponsors
GROW will better support newcomers to our group and to AA. This will involve a two-pronged approach.
In order to assure that newcomers have access to a sponsor, GROW will: Discontinue GROW’s webpage “Available Online Sponsors“. The GROW members on that list will work with the Temporary Mentor to assure that newcomers who want a sponsor are assigned a temporary Sponsor.
Other ways GROW can improve our support to newcomers and others in need of sponsors might include sending out a monthly announcement to the effect that “If any person here does not have a sponsor and wants one, please contact [Temporary Mentor/Sponsor Listkeeper], who will arrange a temporary sponsor. The Sponsor Listkeeper could continue to send out a monthly list of available and willing sponsors, but the women on that list will rotate on a regular basis.
To further support newcomers to the AA program, GROW will Open a closed beginners’ meeting similar to how we are running the biz meeting.
Examples of how this could be accomplished include:
Interested members can ask the listkeepers to sub them to the beginners meeting.
GROW can provide a moderator and a meeting leader (length of time to be determined). The meeting could include topics such as Living Sober, the first three steps, sponsorship, etc. Examples of weekly topics include Steps 1,2, and 3 for week 1; Living Sober for week 2; general discussion or topic of choice for week 3; sponsorship problems and opportunities for week 4.
Rationale: During our discussions on the Temporary Mentor (newcomer committee and providing links to AA resources), it became clear that there are issues related to the Online Available Sponsors list/webpage because the people on that list do not always respond timely (or at all) to newcomers’ requests for help. Further, Available Online Sponsors do not rotate, and the only members that rotate on both the 12th Step List and the Sponsor List are the listkeepers. The Available Online Sponsor webpage creates the impression that only people on the sponsor list can sponsor, which in reality is not the case.
The AA pamphlet Questions & Answers on Sponsorship offers suggestions on how a group can better support new members. The following excerpt is from (pages 23-24) of that pamphlet:
“What procedures can a group set up to sponsor new members?
Carefully planned sponsorship activity within a group is often likely to produce better results than sponsorship left to chance.
A typical pattern of planned sponsorship within a local group might include the following:
- A regular committee on sponsorship or a Twelfth Step committee, with members rotating frequently. If there is an intergroup or central office that keeps a list of local groups and the members available for Twelfth Step calls, such a committee may check to see whether the group has enough of its members on the office list to fulfill its responsibility.
- Regular beginners meetings (also called newcom-ers meetings) — particularly in larger communities where there are many newcomers. A Guide for Leading Beginners Meetings may be ordered from G.S.O.
- Regular assignment of members to greet newcomers at meetings and introduce them around. In large groups, people on a hospitality committee may wear badges for the benefit of the newcomer. In smaller groups, the secretary may, during the announcements, simply ask newcomers to come up and make themselves known after the meeting, so they may be introduced to other members.
- Another suggested announcement. “If any person here does not have a sponsor and wants one, please see the secretary, who will arrange a temporary sponsor.” Where this practice is followed at each meeting, members say, it reminds the group of the value of sponsoring and being sponsored.
- Closed-meeting discussions of sponsorship problems and opportunities. Some groups schedule meetings especially for this purpose.”
Summary of Comments on Proposal 10.3
This proposal covered a lot of territory. Discussions on the two proposals related to the Temporary Mentor (both adopted as Group Conscience decisions) led to this proposal when concerns were raised about the support GROW offers newcomers. We took a new look at the way we manage information about available sponsors and whether we give newcomers enough opportunity to talk about common issues during early sobriety. Because the proposal contained different subtopics, the Chair split it into three subparts: discontinuing the “Available Online Sponsors” Webpage (10.4a), managing Information about Available Sponsors (10.4b), and Beginners Meeting (10.4c)
Fifteen (15) participants commented on discontinuing GROW’s “Available Online Sponsors” webpage, giving greater responsibility to the Temporary Mentor in managing information about potential sponsors, and establishing a Beginners’ Meeting to operate parallel with GROW’s main mailing list.
Available Online Sponsors Webpage (10.4a)
The Temporary Mentor reported that some newcomers had contacted women on the webpage list but did not received responses timely or at all. Others questioned whether the list of sponsors was updated frequently enough to assure that the women listed were still interested in being sponsors. In addition, many of the people on the list do not share regularly; therefore, women seeking sponsors can’t get a sense of potential sponsors’ program. Finally, the list of “Available Online Sponsors” on our website may create the erroneous impression that these are the only women who can or will be sponsors. Participants felt that we should discontinue the current “Available Sponsors Webpage” and rely on the Sponsor Listkeeper’s monthly email.
Managing Information about Sponsors (10.4b)
Earlier in this business meeting, the group recognized an overlap between the Temporary Mentor (TM) in helping newcomers find sponsors and Sponsor Listkeeper. The proposal called for the women currently on the available sponsors webpage to work with the TM to find temporary sponsors for newcomers. It was pointed out that both the volunteers on the 12th Step list and the Available Sponsors might support the TM. When asked what a “Temporary” Sponsor is several participants shared their personal experience. Others talked about the awkward for newcomers before they understand the sponsor relationship and when they are still perhaps hesitant to make the commitment as an important reason for Temporary Mentors. We were reminded of the “Questions & Answers about Sponsorship” pamphlet.
The current list of available sponsors does not distinguish between those who are willing to sponsor newcomers and those who are not. It is also important to assure women who are listed as available sponsors understand their responsibility to be respond timely when contacted. It was suggested that we send out a monthly announcement that anyone who does not have a sponsor but wants one can contact [Trusted Servant(s)] for help. Another participant suggested that we rotate people on list of available sponsors, but others felt rotation would not be helpful.
One participant compared GROW to f2f meetings in the degree to which they get involved in sponsorship issues. She felt GROW sometimes became too involved in what is normally treated as a personal process – that people looking for a sponsor are responsible for finding one – and f2f meetings don’t usually go beyond advising people to “get a sponsor.”
We also discussed the overlap between the Sponsor Listkeeper and Temporary Mentor in this area was also discussed. In the past, GROW has not differentiated between those interested in being temporary sponsors or who want to work with newcomers, but this information is helpful to the Temporary Mentor. The Sponsor Listkeeper, however, maintains information for all GROW members, not just newcomers.
Proposal 10.4b adds a bullet to the Sponsor Listkeeper and Temporary Mentor job descriptions that calls for them to cooperate in potential temporary sponsors as well providing monthly lists of available sponsors to the GROW mailing list.
Beginners Meeting (10.4c)
There was a lot of discussion of the proposal to start a separate mailing list for a Beginners Meeting that would be configured like the business meeting mailing list as a subset of GROW members. The proposal called for a moderator and assumed that members of this list would volunteer to present topics similar to the way it is done in GROW.
Many participants supported the idea as a way to improve GROW’s service to newcomers, an issue raised in response to the Group Inventory. Others argued that GROW already focuses on newcomers through its Greeters, Temporary Mentor, and 12th Step Volunteer list and that a new dedicated Step/Tradition meeting will be valuable support for people new to the AA program. Several Beginners meetings are already listed on AA’s website, and it is not necessary for GROW to duplicate them. Finally, members were concerned about splitting our GROW’s focus.
The additional workload involved in running a separate meeting might be very difficult for the Trusted Servants who would to support the meeting. Assuring GROW’s guidelines are applied to the separate meeting is also problematic. It is to fill all TS positions now (we still have a vacant position), and the Secretary expressed concern about adding new positions.
It is also important for new members be responsible for finding what they need to have a healthy sobriety. While the women who commented were very receptive to and supported the idea of a Beginners Meeting, they also had many concerns about how such a meeting would be managed. We are voting yes/no in each subpart of Proposal 10 during the fourth 3-day session.
Results of Voting on Proposal 10.4
Discontinue “Available Online Sponsors” Webpage
Voting: Eleven (11) participants voted in favor (58%) and five (5) voted against Proposal 10.4a, meeting the requirement for a 2/3 majority. Therefore, the proposal is approved. The Chair called for those who voted against the proposal to submit a Minority Opinion. If, after hearing the minority opinion, any participant wants to change their vote, we will conduct a re-vote. Until we know the outcome of this phase of our process, the proposal does not become a formal Group Conscience Decision.
Results of Voting on Proposal 10.4b
Managing Information about Sponsors
Voting: Thirteen (13) participants voted in favor (87%), and three (3) voted against Proposal 10.4b, exceeding the requirement for a 2/3 majority vote in favor of the proposal. The Chair called for those who voted against the proposal to submit a Minority Opinion. If, after hearing the minority opinion, any participant wants to change their vote, we will conduct a re-vote. Until we know the outcome of this phase of our process, the proposal does not become a formal Group Conscience Decision.
Results of Voting on Proposal 10.4c
Voting: No participants voted in favor, and sixteen (16) voted against Proposal 10.4c, representing a unanimous decision not to establish a Beginners’ Meeting to run parallel with GROW’s email meeting. Therefore, the proposal fails and cannot be raised again for a year.
Group Conscience Decision: