Each with nearly seventeen years of sobriety, Bev and Sandy share their experience with service work.
“Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.” Big Book, pg. 89
- In early recovery, how did you get involved in service?
Bev: I started by getting the key to my home group. I was stepping out of my comfort zone doing this; it allowed me to get to know people as they arrived instead of just going to the meeting and getting there just before it starts. When it came time to give up the key I didn’t want to!
Sandy: I started by greeting for my home group. My home group was big on rotation. At business meetings I was gently encouraged to take on many different service positions in the group: the Nanaimo rally and social committee. I was filled with fear every time I did something new. After a while the fear didn’t last as long, or go as deep. My sponsor walked me through a lot of it. I spent a lot of time with newcomers, driving people to meetings, phone conversations, coffee, and sponsoring. I also went to lots of meetings.
- What types of service work have you done?
Bev: I’ve done a lot of service work over the years, starting at the group level; opener, secretary, treasurer, intergroup rep. and GSR. At the district level I’ve been DCM, and corrections chair. The best service work I’ve done has been getting involved with the correctional facility; I’ve done this for the past fourteen years.
Sandy: For my home group I have been greeter, opener, coffee maker, set-up, clean-up, secretary, treasurer, literature, birthday card/cake, detox, alternate intergroup rep, and intergroup rep, alternate GSR, and GSR. For the district I have been detox chair. I have also been on the social committee where we used to organize many dances. I have also held different positions for the Nanaimo rally, and just helped out as a member of AA. I have held rally meetings, step studies, and tradition studies in our home. I am a sponsor and have a sponsor. I’ve also participated in 12-step calls, spoke at schools and treatment centres.
- How has service work impacted your recovery? What are the benefits?
Bev: I have met so many people I wouldn’t have normally met had it not been for service work. A lot of those people have become close friends over the years.
Sandy: Along with the steps, it has built my confidence, and greatly lessoned my fears. Going out of my comfort zone, or facing the fear of people just seeing ‘me’ used to stop me from leaving the house. After doing service work and taking small risks, with the support of the fellowship, I have a new freedom. Service work has given me more faith in my Higher Power. It has taught me how to “play with others” and chipped away at my ego.
- How can a newcomer get involved in service work?
Bev: Start by doing something simple like making coffee. Attend your group’s business meetings and listen to what positions have to be filled and volunteer for one of those. Try to be open to anything.
Sandy: By talking to other members, and going to tons and tons of meetings. By getting a sponsor that has been involved in service and knows the rewards first hand. By saying yes (when it is right to say yes. I do not believe I have to do everything AA asks me to do – that’s where my sponsor comes in). By joining an AA group that is involved with AA service, attending the business meetings, and taking on responsibilities in that group. By going to “the meeting after the meeting,” out for coffee, walks, and fellowship. Find the “like minded” people, the people that like to do the things that you like to do, and ‘practicing all our AA principals in all our affairs’. Join a step study. Join a tradition study. Go to all the events that the district holds.
- Is there such a thing as too much service?
Bev: Sure there is. Just like everything else, balance is the key. We also have to remember about the spirit of rotation. Don’t hold on to a position too long; let someone else have the same opportunity as you did.
Sandy: There sure is; that is why we have the spirit of rotation and group conscience. Often, our egos want to take control of a home group or service position; AA needs a balance of what the newcomer brings, what the old timer brings, and what the coming-back person brings. No one in AA has all the answers.
- Outside of AA, how do you give back to your community?
Bev: I try to volunteer when I can and also do work for the neighbors when I can.
Sandy: That is the best gift I have gotten from AA! I can now go out into the community and just be. I am part of a few other service groups in the city. I attend different courses offered in the community. I am there for my family and my neighbours. With the help of my sponsor, sponsees, and home group I can ‘practice these principals in all of my affairs’. It is a wonderful feeling to give back and be a part of; all thanks to experience I have gained by doing service for AA.