by Kathleen C.

Hilldwellers Monday Big Book Discussion meets 8 p.m. at 953 DeHaro Street, Potrero Hill Neighborhood House in San Francisco. Every Monday, regardless of holidays.

With a year and a half sober in 1988, I was finally looking for a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I had been in another 12-Step program but, surprise surprise, I really needed A.A. Sobriety even without a program had given me such a busy life it was hard to fit a meeting into my schedule. I was married, working full-time and had two kids. I settled on a Big Book meeting, since it was the easiest way to read Alcoholics Anonymous, which I had been told was essential to staying sober. Monday nights my husband was available to watch our five-year old twin daughters. 

That first Monday I hesitantly crept into a meeting room in a rambling brown-shingled building on the windswept peak of Potrero Hill. The Nabe, or Neighborhood House, was designed by renowned architect Julia Morgan and has spectacular views of downtown San Francisco and the Bay. 

I was handed a cup of coffee and made to feel at home, choosing a chair at the non-smokers’ table. Over the years I have been to many other meetings, but Hilldwellers is my home group. It’s an open meeting. Anybody can come, even if unsure whether they’re an alcoholic. We also have no problem signing court slips.

We are especially proud of our hospitality

We read the Big Book, one chapter or story a week, going around the table, each of us reading a paragraph or two at a time. Inspired by the reading, anyone can discuss whatever they need to talk about as it relates to sobriety. Reading the entire Big Book takes about a year. I’ve read the Big Book more than 30 times, something I would never have done on my own. It is enlightening to hear others’ interpretations of the chapters and stories.  We laugh with each other over life’s challenges and how we deal with them sober. The sense of community runs deep. Sometimes there have been four or more generations of sponsors and sponsees in the room.  We are especially proud of our hospitality. The coffee, tea and cookies are often supplemented with a home-baked cake or pie brought by someone celebrating an A.A. birthday, and we have a big Holiday Potluck every year open to everyone.

Hilldwellers has been part of my entire sobriety. It’s where I came as a fearful, desperate newcomer to Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s where I learned how to live sober and be grateful and happy about it. Because it’s a book study we are always reminded to stay in the basics. It’s the kind of home group everyone should have. We absolutely insist on enjoying life!

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