From the June 2014 magazine.

Special Delivery

A member has a plan to help get Grapevine and La Viña into jails, homes and treatment facilities

It took me a long time in sobriety to get involved in service, but once I did, it really enriched my recovery. I came into AA in 1989 and started, like most of us do, by doing service in my home group. But when I became a GSR, I saw what was going on in AA beyond my group.

As I stayed sober one day at a time, I was able to go back to school, learning how to read and write. I may not be a good writer, but I’m not afraid to write, and I continue to be of service. I got more involved at the district level, becoming a DCM, and now I serve as my county’s Grapevine chair.

While attending a La Viña workshop last year, I heard about a group providing subscriptions of La Viña to correctional facilities. This group was supporting La Viña and getting the AA message behind the walls. I thought, What a great idea! Instead of holding a Grapevine workshop, which my county financially sponsors, I proposed that the county finance all nine of our districts with two annual subscriptions of Grapevine and La Viña for correctional facilities. Manhattan County was thrilled and unanimously voted yes.

After seeing how well this idea was received, I brought it to our Area 49 assembly to encourage the other counties, groups and individual members to do the same. The idea is not limited to correctional facilities. It can also include treatment facilities, detoxes, nursing homes, as well as homebound AA members—anywhere there are alcoholics who cannot get to meetings.

Besides our nine districts, five groups have also purchased subscriptions, making it a total of 92 subscriptions of Grapevine and La Viña purchased in Area 49. Orange County has also adopted a Grapevine outreach. In February, I brought the idea to NERAASA (the Northeast Regional AA Service Assembly) in hopes that other areas adopt it and help get the message out.

If you’d like to try this idea, here are the steps that I took to get Grapevine and La Viña behind the walls.

1. Create a flyer to gather support.

2. Contact your area corrections or treatment chairs for a list of facilities that might need Grapevine or La Viña magazines. In addition, search online on your own for facilities in your area.

3. Contact these facilities to see if they would like free Grapevine and La Viña subscriptions.

4. Suggest to your county that they assign a member or committee to do the following:

a) Draft a formal script to follow when calling the facilities—remember we are the voice of AA. Note: facilities request full names.

b) Draft a formal confirmation letter addressed to the facility with your area or county’s letterhead on it (if you don’t have one, you can use your area or county’s P.O. box address as the letterhead).

c) Draft a formal thank-you letter addressed to all those who have signed up to purchase a subscription of Grapevine and La Viña.

I cannot express my gratitude enough for what service has given me—this once scared, insecure, borderline-literate alcoholic. The unconditional love I received when I first walked into the rooms of AA is what I thrive on now, and I hope to share it with other suffering alcoholics. When making all those calls to correctional facilities I could hear the enthusiasm and gratitude, and it filled my heart with joy. No drink in the world can do that for me.


Download examples of similar posters and letters to help your group or area get involved in this kind of service.

-- Vicky B.

New York, New York