Around 2009 I visited my city’s A.A. Central Office for the first time in sobriety. I asked if they needed some help, such as working on their web site. They had a web master, but they needed someone to pitch in and help out with assembling and mailing their next issue of The Point (their monthly Intergroup newsletter). I swallowed my pride and helped. I thought I had skills better suited for more brainy work. I was led to a conference table at which three other people, newly sober, were seated. We all spent the afternoon assembling the issue, chatting away, talking sobriety, and having fun. Afterwards, I left with a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
I then volunteered to answer Central Office telephones for one shift per week. A couple of years later, I joined the committee that produced The Point as an associate editor. I had a background in writing, so I thought that I could contribute to the committee. I had fun working on the A.A. History column for the next two years. The committee consisted of a lead editor, a layout person, and two associate editors: all volunteers. As a committee, we met twice a month for some fun, and pun-filled, meetings.
Our local volunteers pitched in to help
I became the lead editor in 2014. By that time the other members rotated off their commitments and I was the one managing each issue. And it was a management-type job. We had a production schedule, we solicited article submissions from A.A. members, we planned each issue after the submissions came in, we proofread and edited each article, and we had a layout/graphic artist add the articles and other content into the template for each issue.
After an issue was put together and a sample newsletter was printed out, we then began the final proofreading process. Even though an issue might look complete, it still required a final proofread. Sometimes a comma or a period, or even a sentence fragment might be missing. Oh, no! When the issue was completely laid out and the proofreading completed, the issue went to print. That’s where our local volunteers pitched in to help.
After each copy of The Point was collated, it was stapled, folded, and then had address labels and postage affixed to it. We then placed the folded issues in United States Postal Service sorting trays, and a volunteer would deliver the trays to the post office.
In 2014, we also added some new volunteers to the committee. This brought fresh, new, ideas. For example, we started publishing artwork, illustrations and jokes: something that was not done before.
I rotated out of the committee a few years ago. I assume the process of how the stories are solicited and written has stayed the same. However, some changes since then include moving away from a hard-copy version of The Point to a web-based version. The layout format is different too. I had gotten used to the booklet format, with a cover page. Each issue is now a list of articles on a web page. In today’s tablet/mobile phone society, that might make it easier for people to read The Point while they are on-the-go. Personally, I prefer having had the hard-copy version. I could read the current issue and then leave it at a club house or at a meeting’s literature table for someone else to pick up and read.
I walked away from this commitment with having learned how to work on a team to produce a newsletter, how to step up and manage the process, how to accept responsibility when something goes wrong, and how to apply our traditions to our newsletter production process. Whether any one of you who reads this article chooses to volunteer for this committee, or any other committee work, at Central Office, I hope you also walk away with the sense of gratitude, sense of purpose, and fulfillment it gave me.