By Jillian E
More than ten years ago, I was going through a very difficult divorce, and one of the principles I have learned in A.A. is to do more service when I feel shaky. The Big Book says, “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much ensure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.” I knew that I needed more service than my weekly local meetings. The first opportunity to cross my path was to be the Teleservice rep for my home group. At the orientation, I learned the basics of how to answer the Teleservice hotline. I have answered hundreds of calls in my 10 years as a Teleservice volunteer. No two calls have ever been the same. I have answered calls that have come in from all over the United States. I have found meetings for those people. I have talked with them about what it means to be an alcoholic. One of the best tools for a Teleservice phone line volunteer is the 20 questions brochure. I have used that countless times to spark a helpful conversation.
I also learned how to make a 12-step call. The first time I was called to perform this service, a sober woman in AA called me and asked me to join her on a 12-step call. We visited a woman who had reached out for help. One of the most important rules of a 12-step call is never to go alone. I had no idea what this would entail or what would be asked of me. It actually scared me to death. But I said yes. And off we went to the home of that woman who needed help. She was drunk but wanted to go to a meeting. We took her to a meeting that happened to be nearby. I don’t remember what else happened then, but I lost my fear by doing this call with a woman who had experience.
Since then, I have done many 12-step calls. I learned that it is best to bring out the aspects of AA that will dispel any preconceived fear. I have explained our principle of anonymity; that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking; that we have no dues or fees; that we have no rules or laws; that AA is not affiliated with any religion or outside organization. I also explain that we are not a treatment center, although we sometimes cooperate with treatment facilities.
There are some really important guidelines for making a 12-step call. Would you like to feel confident making a 12-Step call or answering a call as a volunteer? Following the guidelines that SF and Marin Intergroup, and Marin Teleservice have laid out demystifies the process.
Marin Teleservice and Marin Fellowship Committee are hosting a Free workshop on the 12-Step Call guidelines. We have 2 speakers who will share their experience, strength, and hope and answer all your questions. We will also discuss difficult phone line callers and how to handle those situations.
The workshop will be held at the San Rafael Alano Club at 1360 Lincoln Ave on Saturday, May 20, from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM. The workshop is FREE, and refreshments will be served.