I got sober doing a brief stint in a Correctional facility.
Over the years I have done Institutional work on and off with my friend Paul in a state prison called Calipatria many hours from home.
Few of these guys will ever get out and the world is a safer place that way. Trust me!
One of these men, (his name is best protected here), was a Hispanic with a huge mustache. He set up the meetings and kept them going. He had never been to an outside AA meeting, but he understood Service and Acceptance as we practice them in AA. He also became my friend.
One day he said that the Chief of the Mexican Mafia there brought him in to his cell and told him "We see that you are serious about changing your life. We're giving you a pass. You don't gotta stand with us no more."
People are regularly murdered there whose lives evolve away from the rigid gang hierarchy. Passes on that are almost unheard of. My friend's story rang true with me then and continues today in demonstrating the power of a loving and forgiving God as expressed through Recovery, Unity and Service.
Amazingly enough, a few months later, my friend disappeared__he was transferred to a much lower level prison and may be one of the few to actually get out of Calipatria and live a sober life.
Behind the wall at Calipatria are lifers, Level 3 specials can't leave the cell without an escort, cannot go out on the yard after dark, guys who never get out due to the extreme violence of their crimes. These guys die in gang wars and prison riots. Sometimes suicide is the only exit.
My AA inmate friend set an example that was noticed even there by both the Mexican Mafia and Staff--in the darkest and bleakest place one can imagine.
I began to see my friend's face when up we closed our eyes and prayed at AA meetings, (that still happens 5 years later).
I had the pleasure of telling him that before we last parted. His eyes lit up as only a sober drunk's can. He thanked me and we will always exist together in the language of heart that I first found in AA Corrections and treatment work.
Some in service forget why we are in service...to give back what was freely given us! One of the hardest and most spiritual things I have done is rotate and let someone else enjoy the gift and experiance being of service, not hold onto it like a mad dog. I have seen thousands pf examples of service and few of them brag about the decades they spent in a position. I've had many postions and loved them all but the best title is still member. How can I repay you all for my life? I pray each day to do God's will and not mine.
Lip service is easy to give to people already here count me in, but if you are talking about helping someone who knows nothing of A.A. and has never been here before, like pick them up and bring them? or go to a hospital and visit them?
I will have to think about that.
There are few things in a sober AA life, as thrilling as
bringing a suffering human being into a place where he/she can get well, and help others to get well. Bill writes that this is an experience you dare not miss.
Recently I searched and found a phone number of the friend of a family member. I had never met this mother who
is in despair over her son's addiction to alcohol and/or drugs. I explained who I was and shared some of my experience of what parents go through. I asked her to go
with me to a local AA meeting, although she in not an
alcoholic. She invited her son and he agreed to go with
us. The speaker that day expressed the remorse, regret,
and shame he felt because he had hurt his parents. The mother wept through the whole meeting. At break she came over and hugged me warmly. I have no way of knowing if her
son will recover. But I am convinced that his mother is
on the way to recovery.
But this not my purpose of writing this message.
I have picked up and brought many members to AA. I have
visited them in hospitals. I may have to think about doing that at the present time. But hopefully I will still go.
But my real purpose for writing this is this: Recently
an AA member shared that he visited someone he knew in a
hospital bed, suffering from alcoholism. He stated that the
first thing he said to the patient was "ARE YOU READY YET?"
This approach did not work. The patient was drunk the day
after release from the hospital.
When we visit someone on " a twelth step call" we are
doing it to preserve our own sobriety. We only ask for a
few minutes of the patient's time, and share our own story,
what we were like, what happened and what we are like now.
Thank them for their time and exit, leaving a meeting
schedule and a phone number where you can be reached. It
really is that simple, and how can we go wrong if we just
share own story.
I do believe that we are responsible to always have the
hand of AA available when an alcoholic approaches us. But that hand does not have to be my own personal hand. We
are responsible to insure that an AA meeting is available and that the meeting is conducted properly. There are many
ways we can be of service to our fellow alcoholic, but I
am convinced that showing up for a meeting is the greatest. ANONYMOUS
I was sentenced to AA august of 2001 . 1 month later my shrinking had become so bad, that when 9/11 happened , I had a nervos break down . Living in kansas, an wichita being the air capitol of the world, we were a possibility for a terrorists attack here. What a day to quit drinking. Every thing I knew as life was gone, I'm being evicted, no place to go. Treatment want sounding so bad. the day before I went to treatment I ended up at an a.a. hall. It had to be a god thing.the men or side the hall, said somebody in this meeting, knows your story. I couldn't imagine someone else knowing what my life was like . I'm different . I finally felt my self being nudged to go in . I was looking to die that nite. Not attend an aa mtng . I heard my story that bought . the mtng was about service. After the mtng.a lady came to me an said do you have a sponsor?" I said no, it's my first mtng . She told me, I'm your sponsor an were going to wash the ash trays . I was so sick an eaten up in side, that I went to 270 mtngs in 90 days . I was going to get better quicker than y'all, an I wouldn't have to wash these nasty ash trays. In all honesty I went to that many mtngs because I was afraid to leave. I just knew i'd get
drink . Somewhere in that 90 days I realized that I had begun to like washing the ashtrays. I loved the look on peoples faces when they picked up an ashtray on the way to their seat, an it was clean. Since this is an anonymous program, I won't share my sponsors name. I know when she reads it , she will have a smile on her face an I'll know she knows. Thank you to my group, for allowing me to be of service to you . Deb B wichita ks
I joined AA at age 18 after I realized I couldn't stop drinking once I started. I feared I would drink myself to death so I called the AA central office here where I live. The woman who answered the phone guided me to my first meeting. I began working the program. I listened, put some money in the basket, shared and learned about the steps. Then I saw an opportunity for service. I asked a sober member if I could come up to the club and clean between meetings. He thought that would be all right. I wasn't sober but I wanted to be so that sober member and I came to the club between meetings and cleaned. I am grateful for that man who helped me clean. He gave me the opportunity to do service. I am sober today and I believe it's because of that service work I did cleaning the club with the sober member because I got sober a short time after I did that service. A few years after I got sober I was on an intergroup committee at another club and had a key. I invited a newcomer to come up to the club and clean the club with me between meetings. He came up to the club and did a very good job cleaning. Then I started going to meetings at a different club and lost touch with that newcomer but I hope he is sober today too. Thank you AA.
With election season upon us, I am reminded of an experience I had several years ago. I have some strong opinions (imagine that!) about politics. I was wrestling with whether I should put a bumper sticker on my car for "my guy." I had picked up a newcomer for a meeting and on the way home there was a commercial on the radio for "my guy." My newcomer launched into a rant about "my guy" then sheepishly said "I hope I wasn't out of line." I didn't let on about whose camp I was in other than to say with a smile "we don't talk politics in AA." I had my answer about the bumper sticker. If I had one on my car, it may have made it difficult for me to 12 Step that guy.
Hopefully your car doesn't come into the meeting.
if it was'nt for some of the old timers that conned me into chairing meetings i probaly would not of stuck around. i was court ordered into aa and was just hanging around till my aa sentence was over with and some of theold timers tricked me into service but it was for my own good.every excuse i came up with they counter punched me with kindness. example i told them i couldnt chair meeting because i could not make it till 8:10 so they said we will get everything set up and when you get here you can take over. thank god for guys like them. i really dont think i would be sober if i had'nt got involved.being of service is the crux of the whole program. we alkies love to say (someone else will do it) thank god bill and bob didnt say that or none of us would have found a way out.get a job in aa and you will increase your chances of staying sober by 50% the other 50% comes from steps10,11, and12
I do think that a first service job should be something other than the chair.
My first service jobs were emptying ashtrays and sweeoing the floor.
Service is something you do and don't have to talk about afterwards -
Unless of course it's the outside sponsorship system lip service in A.A. you are referring to.
the best kept secret in Alcoholics Anonymous is Service. The West Central Regional Service Forum is life changing.
Sam B Area 40
I think I can rightly assume that many courts across the
country try to sentence defendents to AA when alcohol is
involved. Most of us know that legally they cannot do this
due to the religious nature of Alcoholics Anonymous. I
believe AA has rightly been declared a religion, by a
judge or judges.
I will ask this question: Can a judge rightly require
a defendent to do community service? If so, why not allow
the time spent at an AA meeting be counted as community
service. This way the 100 hours of community service
requirement, which would be voluntary, could include
We need the newcomer as much as he/she could
possibly need us. So the defendent would be doing a
service for us, and maybe even find help for himself.
I actually made this arrangement with a new
member about 20 years ago. His parole officer accepted
attendence at our meeting as community service. He
asked that attendence to be verified by the Priest
in charge at the church where we met. That was done.
That member is still in AA today. In my personal
experience, a young man was sentenced to 100 hours
of community service to be served by 10 hours a month
for ten months. So ten AA meetings a month would meet
the requirement. Does any of this make sense? ANONYMOUS
The judges in this area(Area 11)now send most people they perceive to have a problem with booze to some private programs run by their friends & paid for by the boozer.
I recently asked a judge who was one of the first to order people to A A in our state and also served our fellowship as a Non-alcoholic class A Trustee what she tought A A would look like had we never aggreed to sign court slips.She quickly replied that the landscape of A A would be radically different for the better! Just something to think about. ray.
Judges are now sentencing alcohol related cases to "pay" programs. Usually run by family & friends of his or some stste legislator.
I am new in service. I chaired for the first time 2 months ago in my 3pm meeting from their i was asked to chair in my womans meeting. Its funny how once i start something, even service, how contagious it is for me. I guess I realy am an alcoholic.ha ha. I realy love service work thanks to my higher power.
"giving back what was given"
I was so inspired to hear a speaker share his experience of getting sober while incarcerated. (even being incarcerated while sober and knowing it was a way to make "legal amends".
So often we hear about Corrections service work from the AAs going in, but we don't get to hear from those who gained from it...What a gift that there are folks who are willing to carry the message into jails, prisons & treatment centers. It shows me that anybody can get sober if they follow the program no matter what. And what a gift for all those "trusted servants" who carry the message that they stay sober...while carrying the message. Truly a gift and yet there is still a big need for willing folks to carry the message behind the walls.
Speaking through Exchange Meetings is a way to do service. Bringing in a meeting to another meeting in another area is service too. Although speaking is not always easy the fellowship is great and I get to to do service and recover, one day at a time, looking forward gratefully to another meeting.
Also meetings are desperately needed at times for the homebound..."I trudge the road of Happy Destiny" and hope that one day when I am sick and need a meeting, someone will bring one into me as well.
Service outside of A.A. has brought a lot of joy to my friends now in A.A. as they finally got introduced to the most important person in life - their self's.
Service is when you bring someone to A.A.
There is nothing wrong with helping someone across the street
There is something wrong with not letting them go!
Experience is when you run someone out.
Service in AA has added to my sobriety in ways I find hard to describe. From cleaning ashtrays to serving as a delegate to our General Service Conference service has been a wonderful experience.
We try to encourage otheres to get involved in service and I always remind folks that we call it "Service Work" because that is exactly what it is, otherwise we might call it "service play". Mike.
While I am the one that gets the most out of being in General service...sometimes I feel kind of alone...at least when I am with uninformed AAs. I feel it's my job to be responsible and share information, but sometimes it's it is challenging when they don't want to hear about it. I wish I could share the joy and spread it around to those who don't know, but I guess that is one good reason for rotation. It wasn't until I rotated in as GSR, then DCM, then Area Secretary, then Delegate that I have come to appreciate how much I still don't know. Each job teaches me more about humility
My enthusiasm for the AA service structure came as a result of having a spiritual awakening as a result of the steps. Someone suggested to me that the best way to get others involved in service is to help them have a spiritual awakening by guiding them to the first 164 pages of the Big Book.