Service – Challenging but Rewarding

I am a twenty-four year old alcoholic who has not had a drink since April 1999. During my first week in Alcoholics Anonymous someone suggested that I turn up to the meeting early and help put out the chairs and ash trays! As usual at the time I thought only of myself and took offence at this as I was the new boy around, a guest almost. Little did I know what a major and important part of my recovery service was to become.

As quickly as my thinking changed working the steps so did my attitude towards service in AA. People who had gone before me in recovery told me that it would make me feel more a part of the fellowship, that it would help me stay in the centre of AA, and would help me lose my selfishness and self –centeredness by thinking of others, whilst also giving back some of what has freely given to me. Consequently I have had the privilege of working through the service structure of my home group which I attend three times a week. I have cleaned, made tea, set up the literature, been the secretary and served on the group service committee which have all contributed greatly to my growth.

The time came when my sponsor said that I was going to be nominated to the PIPCS position at our Intergroup. A cold chill ran down my spine when this was suggested but I thought of the declaration “I am responsible when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help; I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that: I am responsible,” and knew what the right thing to do was. As with every service position that I have held I was sponsored into it by the person rotating out. They have always showed me what to do, what is expected and given me great guidance and advice during each role.

I am currently two thirds of the way through my commitment at Intergroup and have found it a challenging but rewarding experience.  The aim of Public Information work is to carry the message of recovery to the still suffering alcoholic by informing the general public about the AA programme.  This has been done a number of ways including contacting community groups, professionals, local media, schools and other public organisations.  This service has furthered my knowledge of the traditions and concepts and also the guidelines for service in AA Great Britain. I have also had the opportunity to develop more friendships within AA among the people I serve with. It has greatly improved my ability to communicate with people which I found so hard as  a newcomer.

As I said at the beginning of my ramblings, the privilege of being given the opportunity to serve AA has hugely contributed to my recovery and I hope I have been able to pass on what was shown to me in this brief account. A section of the Third Legacy Manual which is featured in As Bill Sees It describes service far better than I could: “ We give a lot of our time to AA activities for our own protection and growth, but also for the sake of our groups, our areas, AA as a whole and above all the newcomer.                                                                                          

Ben B, Road to Recovery, Plymouth, July 2012