Jo A. - Cooperation with the Professional Community (CPC) Coordinator
As an integral part of my recovery, I have chosen to carry our message of hope outside the rooms of AA. After serving in all my home group positions, I became an Intergroup Representative and next a General Service Representative. Through those positions I learned so much about taking a group conscious, how to lead rather than direct, and became grounded in the Traditions. My first experience was by making myself available to be the Public Information (PI) Chair even though I did not have a clue what it entailed. My Service Sponsor stated, “Ask yourself if you have the ability and talent for the position.” I knew I could speak in public, so I said, “I’m available.” Immediately after I was elected two men rushed up to offer their experience, support, and advice. The very first thing I learned was not to do it alone! To be a “Chair” one needs a committee! I immediately learned others had great ideas. What an awakening! I did not have to have all the “bright ideas”! After serving for two years as P.I. coordinator I became the Cooperation with the Professional Community, CPC Chair for my district.
I have presented talks to DUI classes, outpatient rehabs, community organizing groups, interns of the State Department of Rehabilitation, and a group of 30 Home Health Workers about what AA is and is not. Some challenging items were brought up. It is my intent to share them in the hope that my experience may help you in your efforts to carry our message of hope to professionals in your community.
At the Community organizing group the minister had preconceived notions about how AA would help him rescue the alcoholics in his area. He requested my personal phone number so I would 12th step them. I gave him our cards with the phone number of our Service Center explaining they maintain a group of folks who are willing to do that work.
The minister’s next request was for me to set up an “AA Program” at his facility. I noted how new meetings are created by AA members. I was hopeful that two of the audience who identified as AA members would run with the challenge. I referred four of our seasoned folks who have started meetings to collaborate with them. The outcome is that an underserved area now has an infant meeting.
At the start of an information meeting, I stress this is an INFORMATION talk, not an AA meeting. However, when a couple of problem drinkers decide to tell their personal stories it takes all my (limited) patience and skill to allow them a brief retelling and then bring it back to what AA is and what A.A. is not.
At most CPC talks there are questions about Al-Anon. First, I firmly state I am not qualified to speak for Al-Anon, since I am not a member. It is important to acknowledge there are many twelve step groups that have been authorized to use our steps. Then I describe how we do not share facilities, publishing houses, literature, or funds. However, I do stress we cooperate with them and often have events and meetings at the same times and locations. But we are not affiliated.
While addressing the Home Health Workers, whose clients are homebound, it became obvious that we offer on-line meetings as a resource. We are currently developing a local service piece for elders who are not “tech savvy” to access this valuable chance at recovery.
An intern suggested we do research to determine what works for most alcoholics. I point out that we do know what works from experience:
- One alcoholic talking to another
- Cleaning up our past
- Helping another alcoholic recover through working the steps
- Connecting with others in fellowship
- Taking a commitment to serve
Or as Dr Bob said:
- Clean House
- Find God
- Serve others
Finally, a belligerent fellow demanded I tell him how to get his friend sober. I explained that no one could get me sober; not bribery, cash incentives, threats, loss of family life, nothing could sway me from drinking, not even death until I was so miserable, I wanted with all my heart to stop the vicious cycle. Even AA could not provide the initial motivation. That is the Step before the first step, a deep desire to be different. However, I do suggest that the concerned party offer to take the ill one to an A.A. meeting.
Carrying the message of AA to professionals is the most satisfying way I serve since about half of our members are directed to us by them. It has been my experience to throw away the outline and create an interactive chat. They will not hesitate to ask questions or fling out challenges. The most important advice I have is to become well-grounded in our Traditions. The first time a camerawoman approached our A.A. table I panicked but quickly recovered by asking her to photograph our table and not our staff.
She laughed and said, “Oh yes, you are Anonymous.” Know something about Corrections, Treatment and Bridging the Gap. Be familiar with the resources available at the Service Center.
And finally, do not do a recap of your drinking history. Relating one funny experience will prove you had a drinking problem. And laugh. For instance, at a recent talk two local Sheriffs were present. As my opening, I asked them if we knew each other. The whole room cracked up. Even though ours is a deadly disease, we have fun and make it attractive through humor.