1 12, 2020

Stay Connected

by Marcello C-B

“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

My experience after completing step 12 brought out a spiritual experience of unimaginable gratitude for this program. It brought me out of the darkness of self-destruction, where I thought that I would never be able to climb out of. My path to becoming more spiritual started back in 1998 when I went to Alcoholic Anonymous meetings with my mother. Unfortunately I went to the “outside meeting” and had less than a little care for the real meeting happening inside. I just didn’t care. I wasn’t ready to give up the world of bad behavior since I was still in mid-flight.

I used to think God didn’t love me because he didn’t help me stop drinking and using

Later I thought to myself, how can I have what my mother and uncle have? I wondered many times how to get the courage to stop using. I thought God doesn’t love me enough, because he doesn’t help me to stop using. So believing in God and having spirituality in my life I didn’t know how to differentiate them till I started to work the steps. I thought that being Catholic and believing in God was enough. Then I started to work the twelve steps with my sponsor.

At that time I was unable to feel any type of emotion. My life was chaotic and undisciplined where I thought that my life was going nowhere but on a one way ticket to hell in a hand basket, in all honesty I thought I’d finally made it, but boy was I so wrong. It wasn’t until I started to work on step 1 that I realized the doors that were shut slowly opened up again. I started to get some hope in my life. I started to understand one step after the other. My spirituality started to evolved, little by little.

I was still in mid-flight

With step 2 my sanity started to come back. I left the insanity behind. When I put my will and my life into the care of the God of my understanding, things started to come easier. With step 4 I really opened up by putting pen to paper and realized how spiritually bankrupt I was. I had no morals whatsoever. Soon after I presented myself verbally to God and to my sponsor as I let them both know all about it in my 5th step. Step 6 began the constant practice of releasing my defects of character. I still practice, but like all things it’s easier said than done. Unlearning old behavior is coming along. I pray to my higher power to remove my shortcomings. With step 8 I’ve continued to do some much-needed housecleaning. I do the best I can day by day.

Now it almost feels like it’s my birthday every day

I’ve been able to make direct amends to those I could without causing harm when the opportunity presented itself. I continue to do a personal inventory of things as I need to, so I can better myself. I mainly use prayer for other people. The only time I use prayer for myself is when I leave my place and ask my higher power to guide me outside so I can have better judgment on the road that awaits me.

Step 12 is more of an action step for me. Once I completed the steps, my sponsor told me I was ready to pass down this knowledge to a newcomer. It’s the only way I can truly keep what I have. The spiritual awakening started for me during the first steps of this program, and what a great journey it has been. The work continues to bear fruit. It almost feels like it’s my birthday every day. In a way it is and that’s how I feel. Now, I’m not saying I don’t have bad days, because I do. But for the most part I’m a happy camper now my family is back, I have a job, and I just purchased a vehicle. I’m 14 months and 14 days clean and sober. I ain’t looking back but I don’t get comfortable either because I am also a slip away from the chaos. I stay in contact with my sponsor and fellow alcoholics and addicts in my circle today. Without them, I can’t do this program. I stay connected so I don’t get infected.

1 12, 2020

Koo Koo Hump Day

by Kristi O

Coming back from what would be my last relapse since starting attending A.A. meetings, I discovered Koo Koo Humpday. I had only gone to meetings that were held in church basements with an older crowd that felt very paternal and reminded me how I felt too young to be an alcoholic. 

I was encouraged to check out this meeting because it was a young people’s meeting and full of artists. The Koo Koo Factory was a warehouse in an alley in the Mission, where Pauli lived and held meetings. It was hard to find at first, the only way I knew a meeting was there was because of all the people talking and smoking cigarettes outside. 

It was a young people’s meeting full of artists

After walking through a dark hallway, the space opened up to a bright room of Christmas lights, checkered floors, and eclectically decorated walls. Sofas lined the far wall, folding chairs were pulled from the back and set wherever you could find room. There was a stage that functioned more like a balcony, and comfy chairs at the front where the secretary and speaker would sit. 

There was a kitchen in a separate room, and the cookies and sweeties were passed from person to person around the room throughout the meeting, the whole meeting, until they were all eaten or people got tired of passing them around. 

In this meeting I saw people my age, people I thought were too cool to talk to, people with colored hair and tattoos, no one that looked like parents. I started to see the life that I wanted and seemed attainable to me. The shares were about being sober artists, finding creativity without substances, learning to socialize being around alcohol but consuming it, as well as all the other challenges we face while turning our lives around through the 12 Steps.  

After a year attending and becoming a part of the regulars at the meeting, there was a fire that was started by the neighbors and we lost the Koo Koo Factory and Pauli lost his house. The community did what we could to support Pauli and try to keep the meetings there going. Koo Koo Humpday moved to the Baha’i Center, where the rent was high and we eventually had to find a new place. Next was the Alano Club, whose rent was cheaper, but like so many places in San Francisco at that time, was kicked out due to high rent.

The space opened up to a bright room full of Christmas lights

Just before meetings closed due to the pandemic, we were at the CPMC Davies Campus. As meetings moved online, I was grateful to be able to host the meeting on Zoom. Since moving on line we have been lucky to hear from many of the founding members of Koo Koo Humpday. 

Pauli started the meeting and other meetings at the Koo Koo Factory after his sponsor Steve “Stevie” Gleason passed away with 34 years of sobriety. Pauli describes him with reverence, “He was the deepest and most amazing guy, and was my sponsor and close friend. He used to say if you’re going to be this close you better be fucking friends.” Stevie was an artist, a Buddhist, a serious combat vet and he lived and created the warehouse for artists. Pauli first moved into the warehouse after a bad break up, then again later to provide hospice care for Stevie. 

Pauli promised Stevie he would carry on the spirit of the place. So he started this meeting on Wednesdays and called it Koo Koo Hump Day. Niko, Shark, Bernie (from Austria, who always brought the snacks and looked kinda like Santa Claus), Pauli and his sponsee were the first 4 attendees. The first meetings were three or four 4 people, once Pauli pulled a newcomer off the street who stayed for the meeting but never was seen again.

Pauli promised to carry on the spirit of the place

The meeting has tried to stay true to what Stevie believed in. It was an A.A. meeting, but welcomed anybody and everybody who wanted to recover from anything : food addiction, bad break ups, work-aholism, anything. The meeting includes a five minute meditation, which was a time that would not make newcomers or tweakers jump right out of their skin. Pauli made sure to hang Stevie’s sticker, “GOD PROTECT ME FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS,” right above where the speaker sat with a big bull skull. 

Eventually as more and more people came in, it morphed into a regular A.A. meeting. Another meeting started on Thursday, then a big book study on Monday, and Dark Secrets on Friday night. When Yoga Punx needed a place to start, the warehouse gave them three days as well. At its peak there was something going on there for the community every day of the week.

The meeting is still Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and still has a five-minute meditation, which still ends with a Mr. Burns toy saying, “Excellent.” We also found out the name Koo Koo Factory came from stuffed cats that a member made during meetings that were called Koo Koo Kats. It has been an honor to learn the history of this meeting that has meant so much to me and countless others. I hope to carry on the tradition of Koo Koo Humpday and Stevie’s and Pauli’s legacy of inclusivity.

1 12, 2020

Marcus’ Story: Never Take A.A. Lightly

by Bree L.

“We looked good on the outside but were highly dysfunctional on the inside,” said Marcus. He grew up in Glendale, California in a very religious Christian family with a domineering mother and a quiet father. Marcus had sensitive ways. He always felt different as the middle child with two older sisters and one younger brother. His parents wanted him to join the ministry and decided the best place was the home of their Presbyterian minister, an imposing, domineering man. Marcus’ sobriety date is February 19, 2007.

“Come and get me,” Marcus called his brother in the middle of the night. He had to escape from the abusive clergyman, who subjected him to long lectures during beatings while he was forced to lie on a bed naked. Life with the minister was pure hell. His spies reported everything from missing class to failing a test. From the pulpit, this man pointed to Marcus and exhorted him to change his ways. 

He’d ask friends to buy liquor or pilfer from his parents’ bottles

Upon returning to his family home Marcus still felt betrayed and alone. His solution was to drink. He’d ask friends to buy liquor or pilfer from his parents’ bottles. Sneaking off during the day, he drank and read pornography. His parents were not alcoholics, but they had cocktail hour 365 days a year.

The boys played bartender, making Jim Beam and 7-Up drinks. Life at home settled in, until Marcus came home to find the fireplace blazing while his parents threw one gay porn magazine after another into the fire. They were beside themselves with concern about what was happening with their son. Marcus’ mother began to search for gay articles through psychiatric journals trying to understand what was then considered aberrant behavior. At one point his parents sent him to a psychiatrist. Their one and only session consisted of the therapist asking, “Are you gay or not?” When Marcus answered in the affirmative, he said, “We have nothing more to talk about; you’re fine the way you are.” 

Marcus dropped out of college to do odd jobs and eventually became a flight attendant. He came out and made full use of the party scene. This was during the ’70s before the AIDS pandemic. There was never enough alcohol or drugs so he used everything he could. Dating bartenders usually did the trick. He continued working as a flight attendant and moved up the ladder until he showed up intoxicated at work and was eventually fired.

He went to New Leaf

Leaving a live-in relationship, he moved to San Francisco for a new start. When 12-stepped, his rationale was, “I’m too young and do not resemble any of these happy, jovial people.” His party life resumed unabated until more people told him he had a serious problem with alcohol. He found a psychologist, who refused to treat him without some sort of support. So he went to New Leaf.

Counselors there continually encouraged him to go to A.A. This time, A.A. clicked with him. He got a Big Book, a sponsor and began working the steps. Life got better. He met a special someone, fell in love and after a few months committed to a holy union in Golden Gate Park. 

Eight or nine years in the program, he decided there was a problem with A.A.’s concept of God. Thinking gay A.A. was the problem, he moved to straight meetings before he eventually decided A.A. was not for him. Around that same time, his sponsor and a few friends relapsed. He figured he was doing fine without A.A.

He found humility was the cornerstone of a life worth living

After 14 years without a drink, he relapsed at an art and wine event. There was free wine, and it seemed so simple. All his crazy alcoholic behavior came back lying, cheating and stealing. He felt worse than ever. Drinking heavily at a bar with a buddy, he’d declare, “A.A. was one of the best things I ever did for myself,” while stealing bar tips. 

Marcus was a blackout drinker and rarely remembered how and when he got home. He drove drunk and took many other risks. Relationships suffered, and some were destroyed. Finally, his partner said, “You need help. I love you, but I don’t respect you. Frankly, I don’t like who you’ve become.” After hearing these words from the person he loved most in the world, Marcus started praying to a God he swore he did not believe in. He has not stopped since. 

He was afraid to return to the meetings, thinking people would see him as a fraud. It didn’t happen. He was welcomed, embraced and supported. The first 30 days, he cried every day. Today he sees the relapse as the best thing that ever happened to him.

With a spiritual practice of meditation and prayer, he has found humility is the cornerstone of a life worth living. As it says in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions regarding humility, “To those who have made progress in A.A., it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.” That’s how life works with a new higher power.

1 12, 2020

Thanksgiving Amends

by Vanessa H

The first time I went through the 9th Step, things went pretty smoothly. On the advice of my sponsor at the time, I always reached out to the person first to make sure they were ok to have me make amends. Everyone on my list said yes. Everyone except my mom.

I don’t know why she said no, but I asked her a couple of times. She always said no. So I honored that and figured I would make living amends to her.

I asked her a couple of times and she always said no

My dad, however, had agreed to hear my amends, so we arranged for a time when I could talk just to him the next time I was home. The amends went well. I saw my dad cry for the first time in my life. I felt a surge of serenity and deeper connection to A.A., knowing that I had cleaned my side of the street in my relationship with him.

Cut to the next day when my parents were driving me to the airport so I could fly back to Minnesota. I noticed my mom had been kind of short with my dad and me all day. Finally I asked her what was wrong. She began crying and wondering why I hadn’t made amends to her. She was upset and felt left out. I was stunned! 

Here I had thought I was respecting her wishes, but she saw it as a slap in the face. I explained to her that because she told me multiple times that she didn’t want to hear my amends, I was trying to honor that. She was still upset. I let her know I couldn’t make amends right then and there in the car, and that I would find a time when we were together again so I could do it face to face privately.

She thought it was a slap in the face

Drop off at the airport was awkward. As soon as I got through security, I called my sponsor and burst into tears. She assured me I had done nothing wrong and we would work together on how to approach my amends with my mom. Thankfully, when I did see my mom at Thanksgiving, she realized her part in the misunderstanding and everything went well.

we worked together on the amends

Today my relationship with my mom is stronger than ever. She truly is one of my best friends. And with time, I’m now able to look back on this situation and laugh. I never know why things happen the way they do, but that’s not for me to know. My higher power reminded me that I can’t control how others behave and react, even when I’m taking the right action. I never need to fear the 9th step so long as I’m cleaning my side of the street with rigorous honesty.

1 12, 2020

Bill W’s Holiday

by Rob S

On a bleak November day in 1934, Bill W. was receiving—albeit unknowingly—a gift beyond belief. An old schoolmate, Ebby T., explained how he had found sobriety via ideas from the Oxford Group. Bill was amazed, yet he thought to himself: “My gin would last longer than his preaching” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 9). This holiday season it did not! Bill’s curiosity about his friend’s success eventually led him to the doors of the alcoholic ward of Towns Hospital a few weeks later.

My gin would last longer than his preaching

He was released with a full week of sobriety on December 18, just one week before Christmas. He never drank again. But that was only the beginning. While in the hospital he had a personality change that altered his modus operandi. Previously he had never wanted anything more than to be a rich member of the Wall Street crowd, before drinking ruined that high point of his life. However, before leaving the hospital the thought came to him: “There were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to have what had been so freely given me. Perhaps I could help some of them. They in turn might work with others” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 14).

Bill’s real gift was a complete personality change as described by Dr. Carl Jung: “Ideas, emotions and attitudes … are suddenly cast to one side, and [replaced by] a new set of conceptions and motives” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 27). Did Bill go back to Wall Street? No, he did not. He went to Calvary Mission, brought a disheveled wino home to Brooklyn Heights, then fed him and prayed with him. The drunk went back out and got drunk. Still, Bill went back to that same mission again and again through January, February and March of 1935. 

emotional rearrangements

This personality change was a wonderful gift. Not just getting sober, but the strong desire to help others. Today we call this Step Twelve.

Not just getting sober, but the strong desire to help

The unusual 2020 holiday season, with the coronavirus and all, gives us a special opportunity to contact newer members of our home groups who generally rely on lots of meetings—some of which may not be available at this time. An encouraging word via telephone, email or Facebook may be just the ticket. I personally enjoy talking to new members about our A.A. program of action as well as our history. Of course, discussing the steps a newcomer is working on is an important ingredient. I carry my Big Book with me. The motive is: Out of self, into God, and for others.

1 12, 2020

Suggestions for Accountability

by Michael P

The Intercounty Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (Intergroup) is currently discussing important policies and procedures related to financial support. This document contains some suggestions for accountability, an overview of Intergroup’s responsibilities, the approval process and a brief history based upon 14 years as an Intergroup representative.

All opinions are my own. If you have any questions or feedback, I’d be happy to hear from you [email protected].

Intergroup has been successful for the last 73 years through a combination of transparency and communication.

Here are some suggestions going forward:

  • Formally recommit to the concept that the full Intergroup is responsible for approving all policy changes, annual budgets, and any significant changes to the budget throughout the year. The Board functions as a Trusted Servants, directly responsible to the Intergroup members.
  • Provide the minutes of the Board and related Board Committees to the Intergroup reps each month. Archive those minutes in an accessible way for all members.
  • Post Intergroup and Board minutes on the website.
  • Additionally, include emails of all Board members in the Intergroup information packets distributed each month. Also, consider listing the members of the Board on the website, which is common practice for a nonprofit. Easy communication between Board members and Intergroup reps is important.

Clarification of Intergroup Responsibilities

The full Intergroup membership is responsible for setting and approving policy, approving the annual budget, and approving any substantial changes to the budget throughout the year.


The proposed budget for the following year is submitted to the Intergroup at the October meeting by the Treasurer, which allows the Intergroup reps to review the budget with their groups and bring questions to the November Intergroup meeting. The final revised budget is submitted for approval at the December meeting.

Any significant changes to the annual budget must be approved by the full Intergroup membership.


Any change in policy is submitted to the Intergroup and approved using the Intergroup Approval Process (see below).

identify ways changes affect operations

Board input and review is an important step in the process to identify ways that policy changes would affect administrative and financial operations. The Board recommendations are submitted to the Intergroup reps, but the Board is not empowered to make unilateral decisions related to the overall budget or organizational policies.


The Executive Director is responsible for the functioning of the Central Office. The Board and Board Committees provide support related to personnel and operations as well as recommendations to the Intergroup membership.

The Board is responsible for the hiring and supervision of the Executive Director.

Financial Support

Intergroups around the country have a variety of ways to raise money to support their organizations.

These approaches include major fundraisers and profits from bookstore sales, often by charging a premium for A.A. literature, especially the Big Book.

Instead of these approaches, the Intercounty Fellowship committed to funding Intergroup through direct group support. The combination of direct group contributions and group representation provides a successful focus on self-support and accountability.

Although Intergroup is an autonomous organization, the decision has been made by a vote of the entire Intergroup to recognize the experiences of General Service and to follow the General Service guidelines for individual contributions. As General Service increased the maximum amount of individual contributions over the years, Intergroup has voted each time to adopt the established guidelines.

Every few years when group contributions have fallen below the projected annual total, Intergroup representatives have met with their groups, explained the current financial situation, and managed to increase group contributions to keep the Intergroup solvent.

Intergroup Approval Process

substantial unanimity

Any proposed change that is significant or controversial is approved by substantial unanimity of the full Intergroup membership. This process is designed to allow widespread participation and strives to minimize controversy. 

This process takes a minimum of three Intergroup meetings and is designed to foster open communication with the groups and create substantial unanimity.

Any Intergroup member can propose a motion for consideration to be included during an upcoming Intergroup meeting.

  1. At the first reading of the motion, there is a discussion and a vote is taken to accept or not accept the motion for full consideration. This is not a vote on the substance of the motion, just an agreement that the Intergroup is interested in formally reviewing the motion.

    The Intergroup reps take the motion to their meetings for discussion.
  • At the following Intergroup meeting, questions and input from the groups are discussed and the motion is amended or clarified as necessary.

    The amended motion is taken back to the groups for review and a group vote.
  • At the third meeting, the motion is presented to the Intergroup for a vote. Following the vote, the tradition of minority opinion is observed and dissenting members have an opportunity to express their views.

    If requested by any dissenting member, the vote is taken again. If substantial unanimity is achieved, usually defined as a ⅔ approval by the membership, the motion passes.

    If the motion is not approved, it can be revised and resubmitted and a subsequent meeting.

If a motion is still highly contentious by the third meeting, it is better to continue discussion rather than force a vote, even if it is likely to get ⅔ approval. The health of the fellowship is our primary objective.

support and services

A Brief History


The Intercounty Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous was formed  as a nonprofit organization (501(c)3) to provide support and services to Alcoholic Anonymous groups in the nine Bay Area Counties.

For many years, the Intercounty Fellowship comprised a handful of members without direct representation by the groups.

Over time, each county formed its own local Intergroup organization. The original Intercounty Fellowship now represents groups in the counties of Marin and San Francisco.

When General Service was officially formed in 1955, there were discussions about how to incorporate Intergroups and Central Offices into the General Service structure, but it was decided that Intergroups were autonomous organizations.

Intergroups do not have a direct relationship with General Service. There is an organization of Central Office Managers that work together and meet annually. General Service does send representatives to these meetings.


In 1993 a new set of bylaws was created to expand representation to every registered group.

Every group listed in the Meeting Schedule could designate an Intergroup Representative.

Every representative was a member of the Board, meaning the Board comprised 30-60 members (note: which was unwieldy).

The Central Office Committee (COC) was an Intergroup Committee. Members were elected to the COC annually in June.

The COC met with the Central Office Manager each month and provided support for issues related to the Central Office, bookstore, and general operations.

Because every member was a Board Member, many administrative matters had to be reviewed and approved in the monthly Intergroup meetings, which was often time consuming.


A Bylaws Committee was formed to update and revise the bylaws.

This project took the entire year. The revised bylaws were approved at the end of 2011.

The new bylaws redefined the Intergroup as a membership organization.

An Executive Board was created to replace the COC and empowered to oversee the administrative issues related to the organization including personnel, accounting, and operations.

This allowed the general Intergroup membership to focus on membership services, including Teleservice, PI/CPC, accessibility, the website, The Buzz, The Point, and fellowship.

The Executive Committee was not created as a governing body; they are trusted servants serving the members. Their role is to fulfill the administrative responsibilities of the nonprofit, provide support to Central Office operations and to make recommendations to the full Intergroup on pending matters.

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