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March 1988

Could You Make It?

For over a year I have been a "Citizen Volunteer" for my state Department of Corrections work release program. The men and women inmates in this program have earned the privilege to work at a job outside the prison. Many will soon be paroled. On Monday nights I bring an AA meeting to these inmates, with as many "free world" AA people as I can gather.

Sometimes this work is frustrating. I am the only active Citizen Volunteer at this prison. When I am sick or can't attend, there is no AA meeting. Recently, due to my illness, there was no meeting for a month. Imagine being an alcoholic inmate trying to stay sober and being unable to attend a meeting for an entire month. Could you make it?

What are the rewards of this work? There is the satisfaction of Twelfth Step work--planting the seed; not knowing when, if ever, it will sprout. There is the thrill of asking if anyone is attending their very first AA meeting, and having six or seven hands go up. And there is the joy of seeing a man, once imprisoned for thirty-five years, attending AA as a free man.

Most of all, I have learned to trust and rely upon my Higher Power as a result of this meeting. Often I leave for this meeting completely empty of my own resources--tired, "brain-dead," alone. At the last minute, several AAs will volunteer to go along, and we have a terrific meeting, full of sharing by both outside AAs and inmates. Week after week, I am "amazingly lifted up," as Bill W. describes in the Big Book. The Higher Power is clearly involved with prison AA.

There is a great need for help with prison meetings. In my state, AAs who are not on probation can become Citizen Volunteers with the state prison system, and sponsor regular AA meetings. Citizen Volunteers can also transport work release inmates to outside AA meetings. How great to assist a prisoner to find a home group and attend AA regularly, helping him to stay out of prison later!

You can attend an AA meeting in prison, even if you are not a Citizen Volunteer. Or you can donate Big Books. Or get your home group involved. The rewards more than compensate for the frustrations. Best of all, I stay sober for today.