Volunteerism

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”   -Albert Schweitzer

Volunteer service opportunities exist that match up with any skill set and time schedule a member may have.  As a volunteer in service I can experience benefits that I don’t know exist until I discover them as I do the job!

Our Twelfth Step is the basic service that AA’s Fellowship gives; this is our principal aim and the main reason I am in service.  Therefore, an AA service is anything that helps us to reach a fellow sufferer ranging all the way from the 12th Step itself to a phone call and a cup of coffee or at AA Central Office to keep the phones answered and the schedules flying off the shelf.  The sum total of all these services is our Third Legacy.

Service work is a vital part of A.A. life.  In A.A. we call it service, the rest of the world calls it “volunteerism.”  Volunteerism is as American as apple pie.  In the earliest days we had barn raisings and quilting bees in which we helped others get what they needed.

When I was growing up each member of our family of five children was expected to “help others.”  It was called “noblesse oblige,” which meant that those who have much must help those who have less.  Pretty much like A.A. – those of us who have benefitted by the service of others are expected to “pay it forward.”  Truly a small price for the gift I have received!

The volunteerism I did as a child taught me to look beyond myself and understand my place in the community.  Today the service I do in A.A.  is a meaningful activity that enhances my sobriety.  I can’t imagine a life without it!
My history of volunteerism and my training in an A. A. service based life brought me to Central Office and the attempt to run the office on a strictly volunteer basis.  Many believed it could not be done, but we have been doing it for six months now and it is working just fine.  I knew it could be done because of a life of volunteerism.  I’ve witnessed volunteers turn negatives into positives.  I’ve seen timid folks turn into confident folks just from the work they have done in service.

The question I am asked often is how did we change Central Office to what it is today.  The answer is simple.  My experience with volunteerism and the call to service in Alcoholics Anonymous taught me that all things are possible if I simply say “yes” to life!   So, enough A.A. members said “yes” to volunteering at Central Office to keep it staffed six days a week and I told them that volunteers are cheerful folks who believe all things are possible.  I told them that our job is to give service to all who call us and if we can’t help a caller, we find someone who can.  The volunteers are encouraged to be positive in all dealings with the public, to treat everyone as we would like to be treated and to help each customer to know that they are valuable and important to us.
I think we have turned Central Office into a place that folks are happy to visit.  Our clients sometimes stay quite some time after their purchases are made and information received.  Some even sign up to volunteer for a couple of hours each week.

All things are possible when we band together in service.  Come volunteer at Central Office.  Make a difference and be part of an endeavor greater than ourselves:  carrying the message!

~ Betty H.

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