It’s a dreary Tuesday here in New York City, kids. I left my apartment prepared with my Hunter Boots and ‘Brella though, thank goodness. Despite the weather Tuesdays are beoming my favorite day of the week! Why? Because Acupuncture is on Tuesday nights! Hopefully it will help get rid of this raging headache I have.
On to the main topic of today: I have a new service position! I am the treasurer for the clubhouse meeting I chair at. I will not chair for the next year, but rather take on treasury duties. For those of you who don’t know, AA works like any other organization except no one is “in charge.” People take on service positions that reflect certain responsibilities to the group. At the clubhouse, we have a Secretary, Literature Chair, Overall Chair, Treasurer and every night of the week we have two co-chairs to run the meetings. So although the Overall Chair of the 10:30 clubhouse meeting runs the business meetings we have each week, she is not “the boss.” Her service position helps keep all of the group members on track to keep the meeting running and carry the message to the newcomers. It’s pretty cool actually that no one is in charge as addicts/alcoholics tend to rebell against authority….surprising, I know.
As the Treasurer I am responsible for collecting all the 7th Tradition money, paying the rent for the space we use, and paying for any group expenses (including flowers and cupcakes for our Anniversary meeting). It’s a perfect role for me since I work with money for a living. For the “normies” out there the 7th Tradition states that “we are to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.” That means that we pass a basket at a certain point in the meeting for people to put in a dollar or two to help pay for our expenses. We don’t want any money from anyone who is not in AA, so that we don’t end up straying from our primary purpose which is to help the alcoholic who still suffers. NA works the exact same way. I would imagine most 12 step programs do. We don’t accept government money, or corporite donations, or anything. We are fully self supporting. Which basically means that the service we offer to the newcomer is FREE!! Think about all that money you spend on therapy when you could get better in a 12 step program for FREE! When I was a newcomer, I just put in the basket whatever change I had and if I didn’t have any money, no one minded. I was always told “We need you more than we need your money.”
And the money we collect mainly goes to rent (it’s steep in this city!). We also buy literature as a group and offer it to the newcomer for free and old timers pay whatever it costs. For instance, I bought my very first AA Big Book last night for $8 at the clubhouse. That book was originally bought with the groups money and I am repaying them. It’s an easier way to get literature compared to going to a recovery bookstore or amazon.com! We also host an Annversary meeting on the last day of every month and we buy small cupcakes and flowers for the celebrants – usually about $30 or less each month. If we have left over money we donate it to NY Intergroup – which is the larger organization that helps to keep all the NYC meetings in tact.
Being of service to others is an important part of staying sober and helping others to stay sober. Most of us in active addiction/alcoholism were incredibly selfish people and we only cared about ourselves. To do service in AA or NA is to take the opposite action. Whether it be making coffee or supplying a meeting with cookies, chairing a meeting, accepting when a chairperson asks you to speak, answering a 12 step call or simply showing up and talking to a daycounter. We are here to serve others and in turn we slowly grow into better people. Being of service also helps you to get out of your own head. When a newcomer calls me or asks me if I would get coffee with her, I always accept. Not only does it make me feel good to help someone else, it allows me an hour where I don’t have to think about the million things going on in my own life.
I have gotten many emails from people struggling with sobriety who have stumbled across my blog and thank me for being of service with my words. I never imagined when I started SATC that I would be able to help so many people so far away. It is such a blessing to be sober today and to give away what I have been given.
What service positions do you have today?