I have chosen ‘Service’ as my topic this week in memory and appreciation of how my AA journey started 25 years ago.
Being of service in AA is something to which we can all relate from the minute we start showing up at meetings and sharing at the tables. From there, the possibilities and opportunities for service are many. Thank heaven for all of those alkies who came before me to keep AA going and growing! Without their service, who knows where I’d be today?
From the get-go, my first sponsor gave me a great picture of how alcoholics pass on to others what they’ve been given. At my 6-month sober mark, she and her husband took me to a meeting in a correctional institute for men that they set up every week and had been doing so for a number of years.
Although I was a bit leery at first, the meeting was worth it (driving through a snowstorm, getting checked out by a guard, and drinking whatever it was that they called, “Coffee” LOL). To see a rough, tough-looking group of guys sitting up, paying attention and sharing was an eye-opener for me. Grant you, some of them were likely not alcoholics but they were there and were well-behaved. (I half-expected trouble of some sort but that didn’t happen.) Because of this experience, a few years later I applied for, and received, clearance at the women’s correctional institute to help put on meetings there once a month (groups in the area rotated on chairing the meetings). However, once I realized that this was not the best kind of service work for me, I stopped going and continued with my service at the group level.
During my first 6 months, I learned how important it was to participate in service to my group. ‘Someone’ had to open the church, make coffee, set up the meeting, pass out the books at the discussion meetings and put them away again, clean up after the meeting, and lock the doors.
I volunteered to make coffee for 3 months and was paired up with someone to show me the ropes. That was a fun time for me. I made fast friends with the set-up people and my co-coffee person, and really got to know the people who always arrived early to the meetings. Once the coffee was made, I’d go outside to have a smoke and shoot the breeze with whoever was out there.
After the coffee pots were cleaned and put away, a group of us would then go out for coffee and a light snack. I heard lots of great and horror stories at those after-meeting meetings and came to realize that those AAers weren’t saints but were very much like myself. It helped me even more to realize that I finally fit in somewhere – here with a bunch of drunks/good people who I would never have met if I were not an alcoholic.
I took the risk and began to share at meetings. I had a sponsor (a lady who had what I wanted) who encouraged me to share with others about how I got sober and how my life had changed. As a result, I was privileged to sponsor women, most of whom are still sober today.
For many years, I’ve been involved in AA online (email) groups and have held positions such as Secretary, Listkeeper, Birthday Announcer, and Business Chair. Also, as part of my giving back to AA, I maintained and updated the Toronto Intergroup Meetings on their Website which involved approximately 400 meetings.
I am also an online sponsor and enjoy the challenges and joys of working with sponsees.
Part of my service also involves donating to the 7th Tradition in order to help keep AA alive. Because I go to very few f2f meetings any more, I contribute annually during Gratitude Month in our area. Also, I have the opportunity to contribute financially to GROW on a monthly basis when the 7th Tradition is passed in order to cover expenses such as list server, website fees, and contributions to the General Service Office of AA.
In AA, we learn that the more we give away, the more we receive. Have you started your service work yet? I would like to hear from each of you about how you got started in service and the rewards/blessings you have received or are receiving as a result. I look forward to hearing from you.