0419 – Proposal 7 and 8: Online Sponsors

Proposal 7: Discontinue Online Sponsors

Proposals 7 and 8 were submitted as 2 proposals, but the rational applies to both. I am posting 2 proposals with the same rational attached to both.

Proposal 7 and 8: GROW will better support newcomers to our group and to AA. This will involve a two-pronged approach, 7 and 8.

Proposal 7: In order to assure that newcomers have access to a sponsor, GROW will: Discontinue GROW’s webpage “Available Online Sponsors”.

Proposal 8: The Sponsor Listkeeper will work with the Temporary Mentor to assure that newcomers who want a sponsor are assigned a temporary sponsor.

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.

Summary of Comments on Proposal 7 and 8

  1. For the reasons given in the proposals, I agree with both proposals.
    • While I was temporary mentor (just outgoing presently), I was dismayed to find that newcomers had sought out a sponsor from the list, only to be turned down (sometimes by more than one on the list), or not even replied to until weeks later, when they were again turned down. In one case, a person on the sponsor list had been out drinking again (she’d been very honest about it with our group) yet her name had remained on the list (which I disagreed with as I know in my first days and years with AA, when I was slipping and sliding, I would have been of no use to anyone, and could actually have been a harmful influence on a person trying to get sober.
    • One lady had tried with two different people, to be rejected twice. I have a hunch this lady might now be drinking. Through me acting as temp mentor, I did set her up with a potential sponsor from a member on our newcomer group. I did this with one or two others.
    • This of course doesn’t reflect that there might have been cases where those on the list did respond to others and established good sponsor/sponsee relationships. But the fact that it did happen at least a few times (from my experience) and more instances of it apparently since our last business meeting (!) is evidence enough that it doesn’t function well at all i.e. not fit for purpose.
    • Further, no rotation is not a good thing, as for one, it is never clear whether the names on the list are still available, or even participating in Grow. There’s a sense of it being a ‘dead’ list.
    • Also, as stated, it gives the false impression to newcomers that available sponsors are only those on the list.
  2. I believe we should not have a sponsor list. In a face to face meeting, there are no sponsor lists. You pick someone based on what they have to say and based on a connection to their story. A random name on a list is not helpful and if they get the nerve up to ask and don’t get a response, imagine how detrimental that would be. I believe that it is part of sobriety to ask people if they would sponsor you and have to deal with whichever response they get. There are people that are willing to sponsor that don’t want to be on that list. It’s just not something I’ve ever seen a group do and it doesn’t actually always help someone needing a sponsor. There’s my two cents. Thanks!
  3. My first issue is the wording of this proposal. How will discontinuing the Available Online Sponsors webpage help assure that newcomers have access to a sponsor? Everything before the colons should be struck from the proposal language.
    • After talking to several people who have used the sponsor list, I am convinced that it does not serve our group well. The major complaint was that no one on the list responded to members seeking a sponsor. That people volunteered to be on the list suggests they would be responsive. Not responding is a terrible message to send, especially to newcomers. Grow can’t police the actions (or lack of) of the potential sponsors. It is better not to offer the information than to set people up for feeling rejected or abandoned when no one responds. When Grow publishes a list, it appears to endorse the women on it. When those women do not respond or respond inappropriately, Grow itself is letting people down.The Sponsor Listkeeper can’t screen the volunteers or assure that they are really “available.”
    • It is more important, I think, that people know they can ask anyone in Grow to sponsor them.
    • At f2f meetings, we do not help people find sponsors. We tell them to get a sponsor, but we do not offer them candidates or monitor the sponsor-sponsee relationship. Finding a sponsor is up to the person who needs one. Being responsible for one’s own recovery is critical to staying sober. Again, we need to let people know they can ask anyone to sponsor them, but we should not point them to specific individuals.
    • Another issue is whether we should send out a list of available sponsors at all, which this proposal does not address. The problem is the same – people on the list not responding. Personally, I think we should seriously consider eliminating the list altogether. It is not working as we hoped it would.
  4. I have spent years in the sponsor list. I was rarely contacted. When I was I responded and sometimes I was turned down for scheduling issues or others….
    • Sometimes a relationship was established for a short time.
    • The sponsor list keeper also checks monthly to see if I am wanting to continue my commitment. So in that fashion the list should be considered current
    • The drinking person should have been removed.
    • I am still a proponent of dissolving this position as I also see it isn’t doing the job we hope it will. And finding a way to combine some language in the temporary mentor and twelfth step lists for those requiring more immediate support
  5. Based upon what I am hearing about sponsors being unavailable when called upon, I believe it is time to disband the position. I agree with the comment that we don’t hand out a list of sponsors at f2f meetings, but allow members to seek their own by listening to them at meetings and watching how they treat others.
    • The Temporary Mentor stays with the new people and helps them to get organized. At the same time, she could advise the new ladies how to select a sponsor in our group (without the Sponsor List) by reading all of the shares and asking someone to sponsor her.
  6. Isn’t this organically leading to the Temporary Mentor and Newcomer Committee stepping into amended roles of Sponsor Listkeeper (Temp Mentor) and Sponsor list (newcomer committee)?
    • The temp mentor would send out the initial mail to the new person, offering help if needed. It could be made clear in the mail that temporary sponsors/ mentors were available from a list of those on the newcomer committee.
    • I found as temp mentor that we had such willing members eager to link up with new persons, in a spirit of acting as a bridge at least until a sponsor was found. However, apart from a spate last year of calls for help, most new members don’t even respond to the 1st and 2nd mails sent by the TM. Or respond with a thank you and saying all was well but they appreciated a TM reaching out. So the newcomer committee members were raring to go but there were no takers for the most part!
    • While that is going on, we really don’t know how much activity is happening with the sponsor list, except for the less than good experiences that have been reported here in the last and the present business meetings. I’m taken aback that it has continued to happen despite our pulling our bootstraps up at the last business meeting. I haven’t yet heard any positive stuff– I’d like to.
    • So, and considering the input here so far, I think we should do away with both sponsor listkeeper and sponsor list roles, and somehow make clear to the group that those services are now available within the TM and newcomer committee (whose role would be expanded to act as temp sponsors rather than simply point the new person in the direction of a sponsor list which isn’t showing a great record of response). This way we’d at least be assured that members were responding to the needs of new persons. The TM would keep some sort of group ‘chat’ going, perhaps on a monthly basis so I’m envisaging a more ongoing dialogue between TM and newcomer committee members than that of Sponsor listkeeper and those on Sponsor List.
    • I think as someone suggested too that we make it clear that anyone in our group can be approached for sponsorship. Just as in face- to-face meetings. It might be worthwhile putting out a monthly notice about sponsorship, informing/reminding us that seeming ‘rejection’ isn’t always a bad or personal thing!
  7. Just some thoughts on the sponsor list questions. It might be helpful to hear from some of the people currently on the Sponsor List as to whether they have been asked and gotten some sponsees from being on the List. In other words, what about the people who are genuinely wanting to sponsor someone?
    • When I joined Grow in 2003, I don’t remember seeing a Sponsor List but I wanted to find a sponsor so I read the shares and asked someone who’s shares I liked. I was turned down, but I kept reading and asking. I did find a sponsor and it worked out.
    • Perhaps it would be good to amend the language on the sponsor announcement to say something to the effect that one way to find a sponsor is to simply ask someone whose shares resonate with them as well as providing the list of names also mentioning that it may take several tries.
  8. I appreciated Sherrie’s suggestion. I have been on the sponsor list and it’s only been this year that I’ve been asked to sponsor via email. I have responded as quickly as possible and have made myself available. I think it’s a very important service to a fellow AA new, coming back to the program, or even someone with sobriety but new to GROW. I take it seriously knowing how important having a sponsor has been for me. This kind of service helps me to stay sober and never ceases to amaze me how this program works.
    • I think it’s important for anyone on the list to respond to all inquiries timely and not ignore anyone asking for help. If I can’t help either because of time or whatever then I should go back to the sponsor listkeeper and/or temporary mentor to let them know. I can’t help but wonder if we’ve underutilized our trusted servants in these 2 positions. There are a variety of ways finding a sponsor could be handled. Requests for a sponsor could go to the temporary mentor who fields and directs those inquiries helping to find someone suitable and then following up after a few days to see how it’s working and whether or not first contact has been made. The sponsor listkeeper keeps the list up to date adding or removing members as people’s ability to be of service change.
    • I haven’t looked at the job descriptions yet for these 2 positions so maybe those of you who have served in either position would be helpful in providing feedback.
    • I don’t want to keep pointing fingers at what the volunteers on the sponsor list are or aren’t doing. We are all responsible. We as a group can utilize positions/resources already in place so we don’t “lose” people from GROW and/or to drinking because of neglect.
  9. As the proposal is written, it would eliminate the webpage but not the monthly notice/list that the Sponsor Listkeeper sends out. To me, that is an acceptable solution.
    • My concerns about having the list on our website boils down to two things: the webpage makes it look like Grow is endorsing those women as sponsors, and it creates the impression that these are the only potential sponsors available to our members.
    • Like others, I appreciate the efforts of those women who have taken their roles seriously and do not mean to ignore their contributions. At the same time, I’ve heard enough complaints to doubt that the webpage accomplishes what we hoped it would. Also, having been the webkeeper, I know that the webpage may not always be up-to-date.

Results of Voting on Proposal 7

Proposal 7.2 was tabled with 8.2 until a member asked that 7.2 be voted on to give the ad hoc committee a sense of if there was a desire to eliminate the online sponsor list.

The results of the vote was 15 agree, 0 disagree.

Group Conscience Decision:

An ad hoc committee was formed to craft a proposal for the October 2019 meeting that is inclusive for all the Trusted Servant job descriptions that address helping members with sponsorship.