Service Experiences

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I have been in AA and sober since April 4, 1978 and my first sponsor got me involved in service almost immediately. He didn't ask me if I wanted to, he informed me that I did't hve to be ivolved in service, I could choose a different sponsor instead. My first exposure came at an Iowa State Conference in 1978 when I "volunteered" with my sponsor to chair a step meeting, the first step of course. From there I spoke at open meetings in the area and in 1980 spoke at a State Conferense Open meeting in my home group's city, Mason City. I was scared because there were about five hundred people in attendance but my sponsor just repeated what he ha told me many times before I spoke. "Speak from your heart and not your head. If you try to impress us you will look bad but if you tell us your story almost everyone will like it." This is still my direction for speking at any meeting and it still works. I went on to be a GSR, DCM Group and District treasurer and have chaired hundreds of meetings. I tell my pigeons the same thing my sponsor told me. Either get involvd in service or find a different sponsor. So far no one has fired me. I know this approach could seem too tough for some but I know that my servie work kept me sober through some rough times and recommend that all sponsors push their pigeons to get involved in Service.It is one of the better ways to work the twelf step.

Group Conscience Meeetings

These are my opinions, experiences, and observations. Every A.A. group ought to have
a group conscience meeting on a regular scheduled basis. The first or last meeting day of
the month. An absolute minimum of once a quarter, every three months. Only members who
consider themselves members of that group ought to participate. Others may attend as
observers. The Group Conscience meeting ought to be held outside the meeting time frame,
usually before or after the regular meeting.
The meeting format ought to include this statement: Our Group holds its Group Conscience
meeting on the last meeting day of the month, or whenever it is held.
At the Group Conscience meeting, which will be well attended,(laugh out loud), a chairperson
needs to be chosen to chair the Group Conscience meeting. It is usually the regular group
meeting chairperson, but if he/she is uncomfortable as chair, someone else is nominated
and voted in to chair.
The chairperson needs absolute control of the meeting. If any member speaks out of turn
more than once, that person can be asked to leave the meeting. Call the A.A. POOlice if
necessary. No one speaks from the floor until recognized by the chairperson. Order has to
be kept.
These meetings usually begin with a group treasurer's report, as detailed as possible.
Has the rent been paid? Is there money left over? Can we afford to make contributions to
our district, area and GSO? Are there checks and balances. I find it is best to pay
everything by check or money order. Everything to do with money must be documented and
transparent. The chair asks for a motion to accept the treasurer's report as read. The
motion is made and seconded. A vote is taken. Simple majority vote carries. BUT, there
must always be asked IS ANYONE OPPOSED. If there is any opposition, someone selected
by those opposing MUST be allowed to speak again for the minority opinion. After that
person has finished speaking, the question is asked: Does anyone wish to change Her?His
vote. If no one wants to change their vote, the motion carries. If even one person
wishes to change their vote, another full vote is taken. This vote is final. There
may be an event where the minority opinion will change the vote entirely. Bill W.
advised us about the value of the minority opinion.
Where there are important issues to be discussed and voted on, it is sometimes
best to table the motion to be further discussed at the next Group Conscience
meeting. Important decisions may take more time. Easy Does It!.
Our hope is to pass decisions by a unanimous vote. That does happen often.
When the vote is close, hard feelings may develop. Avoid this if possible,
but not at all costs. We need to be responsible and reasonable. Group
Unity is important. It is our first tradition, followed closely by our
second Tradition. Without an understanding of the Tradition Two, this
message is irrelevant. Comments, Criticism will be appreciated. ANONYMOUS

Concept V

I like how you worked concept five into the group conscience description without calling it that. I have watched this is action too, and it is a beautiful thing about AA. In other group (business) settings, the minority voice is not respected or listened to like it is within our fellowship. Sponsors can help this by going through the service manual with sponsees after the steps and traditions. The concepts for world service are beautiful spiritual principles.

re: Service Experiences | AA Grapevine

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.


I got sober 25 years ago. I started getting tomeeting before coffee maker. They gave me key to door. Made coffee for 20 years . My group closed in town. I go to telephone meetings now. Chair a Saturday speaker meeting one day at time group .

jail service

I volunteer for corrections meetings to remind myself that even though I haven't been incarcerated that I could be if I don't follow the program of AA each day,and to start the seed of there is a reason we do harmful things either by alcohol depression moments or just the fear of non acceptance.

AA Service

I lived in Haywardt to , Ca: My service experience was at a place called the Alameda County Sheriffs Work Fulough Center, I was contact chair for a H&I meeting, it was Tuesday nites, I went to a regular meeting at the Park St. Center, in Alameda, then after the meeting, it was from 5:30 - 6:30 PM one of the regulars from the meeting asked me where I was going I said Into a Jail, his eyes got real big, I said not I am not a guest, I just go there to put on a meeting and then after the hour I get to leave, he said oh ok. It was one of our regular meetings, one of the men was going back east to his moms funeral, he had asked his parole officer and the judge if it was ok if he went, they both said ok, as long as he attended meetings while he was there, so before he left he asked me If he could have a couple of blank cards at this time they were double sided, I gave him a couple. so he went to the funeral and also went to meetings and when he came back the judge and his parole officer told him to go and get his stuff and go home. why because he asked first before he left and second he went to meetings while he was gone. This was one of the many men and women I had the privilage to put on meetings for, I started out as a contact chair, them became chairman, then was asked to be the coordinator of the meeting, it was a mandatory meeting so there was a signup sheet that went around, it was copies and went to the different sargeants of the Sheriffs Dept. That was a great meeting, I saw several men and women get sober and stay sober, at first in the Work Furlough center, and then at other meetings, they would say thanks, when they saw me on the Bart Train, yet I always replied that it was your choice and your higher powers to nurture the seed of sobriety that I and a few other men and women planted.

That was back in 1991= 1996, the county finally had to close the place due to budget cuts.


I was the GSR for my group and attended the monthly meetings
and brought the flyers and other information back to my group. I would give a GSR report at our monthly business/group conscience meeting. I was informed at one
business meeting that the local AA answering service system
was not working. I picked up the phone at home-there were
few cell type phones at that time- and dialed the number
listed in the phone book for Alcoholics Anonymous. I still
remember the answer I heard. "The number you have dialed is
no longer in service. Be sure you have the right number and
have dialed it correctly." I got involved and formed an
answering service committee. About three weeks later I
dialed the same AA phone number. The message I heard was:
The number you dialed has been changed, the new number
is:____. We are resonsible to insure that anyone who needs
AA can reach us. Service is anything we do to help the
suffering alcoholic, and anything that we do to make an
AA group available. The solution is found in the AA group.
Some may believe that the solution is found in the steps.
I believe recovery is made possible by the AA group. ANONYMOUS

Why does Alcoholics Anonymous go to jails and prisons?

Why does Alcoholics Anonymous go to jails and prisons?

Was asked this very interesting question by someone who does not think that AA should be inside.

My answer was "Have never gone, so I do not know."
Also provided the person the link to:

Please no slogans or a cliches. Straight answers only.
Quick replies greatly appreciated.


An old time bank robber from year ago who's name excapes me once was ask why he robbed banks, his reply was,"That's where the money is." We go into jails because that where the drunks are. M.

Because I know I if they came

Because I know I if they came in (well maybe I could of got some help sooner.)

Joined: 2012-03-04
re: Why does Alcoholics Anonymous go to jails and prisons?

Because approximately 38,664 of the USA and Canadian AA members are in correctional facilities at the moment. 1,555 AA groups are held in correctional facilities. (Figures from membership estimates, Box 4-5-9, Summer 2012, page 2)

More info can be found in the following: Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: pages 5, 6, 30, 89 f, 197. The Language of the Heart page 118. Hope this info helps.

Joined: 2012-01-14
The end result of alcoholism

The end result of alcoholism is either jail, institutions or death. Many alcoholics end up behind bars and have no access to meetings. There but for the Grace of God, go I.

If the cliche fits, use it!!

Joined: 2011-05-05
Because alcoholics are in

Because alcoholics are in prison and want sobriety. There are 1,589 AA groups in correctional facilities in the U.S. Why would anyone want to keep A.A. from anyone seeking sobriety?

GSR - New Freedom

Being a GSR showed me a new way of freedom from outside of myself. Many AA members kept suggesting on how to run the business meetings. What I discoverd from the last business meeting was to let the group conscience lead so that I may follow. Annoymous

GSR- New Freedom

By doing service work, I can completely relate with what you are saying. I have also found a new freedom by listening to the group and taking their ideas and suggestions. Although I don't always like what everyone hs to say all of the time, I do take the time out to see if it applies to myself.

This allows me the freedom to keep myself in check with the Steps and the Traditions so that I can continue to provide the best possible service to my homegroup. Thank you for your insight and may you continue on your journey in sobriety.

Patty B- LR

New Freedom

I am so thankful to know now that I have a choice in living and dieing.......let go and let god thy will be day at a time......ty god my higher power....amen

I think that everyone that

I think that everyone that walk in doors of AA we don't know it but it will change your life.

LR- One More Chance

I have currently been elected to the position of literature rep for my homegroup. Although I am young in the fellowship, I have learned a few tips from oldtimers and many others along my journey in recovery. I came to the fellowship in the summer of 2005, and for many years there after was plagued by waves of guilt and remorse over my inability to stop drinking.

I have learned that by doing service work, it has filled the hole in my heart of losing my son. Due to issues beyond my control I made the sacrfice for him to get a better life. Now I have the chance to be free one more time so that one day he will come back to me and I will be stronger both spiritually and emotionally. Thank you AA for giving me one more chance at life, love, and friendship.

LR-Beeville, TX

Hi, I got sober doing a brief

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.
Many blessings,
Bob C
Oceanside, CA


Some in service forget why we are in 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.

Service? count me in

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.

RE: Service? count me in

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

Joined: 2011-05-02
grateful to be sober thanks to service in AA

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.

bumper sticker

Hopefully your car doesn't come into the meeting.

RE: bumper sticker

Didn't know they fix cars tooo -

RE: bumper sticker

A.A fixes everything Dogs, drug addicts, liers, cheats and thefts and sometimes itself.

Joined: 2011-05-19

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.

Joined: 2013-09-29
My first service jobs were

My first service jobs were emptying ashtrays and sweeoing the floor.

Service ?

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.
Thanks GSO
Sam B Area 40

Court Ordered AA attendence

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
AA meetings.
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

court ordered

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.

ordered to a.a.

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.

Are you saying she regretted

Are you saying she regretted sending them to AA? What area are you in? I would love to talk to that Judge.

ordered to a.a.

I would love to talk to that judge. what area are you in? Are you saying she regretted sending people to AA?

court orders

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.

Joined: 2011-05-24
Service Corrections

"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 A.A.

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 / Experiences

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 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

Joined: 2011-07-29

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.

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