personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity.”
- A member shares, “ When chairing the Beginner's Meeting, my very favorite pamphlet, although it always left me and the group I was with teary eyed, is 3 Views of Al-Anon, from a yellow to a bluish turquoise to a buff color today. Part 2 of the pamphlet is "Letter from the Alcoholic." Wow, it really touches the heart and soul of me. It helps me understand that the Alcoholic was not born to grow up and become an Alcoholic. It touches Compassion in me, and the resentment, and "what will people think of me?" leaves. There are many wonderful materials, yet last Saturday I chaired a Beginner's Meeting with this very same pamphlet, and an old time member asked me for it and I gave it to her. Fortunately, I was able to get another. What a wonderful world our Al-Anon world is.”
Meetings are often dedicated to the study of certain pieces of literature. “Fourth Step Meetings” may use one of the workbooks. “Step Meetings” may use How Al-Anon Works or Paths to Recovery.
- A member shares, “I enjoy going to meetings that are focused on reading from our Twelve and Twelve so that I have the chance to study the principles of the program and hear shares and thoughts that are different than my own.”
And literature is often the answer when a sponsor is trying to reach or inspire a sponsee.
- A member shares, “From the beginning of my recovery literature has been an integral part of my recovery. My sponsor is a big advocate for literature. As we worked the steps, I was told to read everything in the ODAT and How Al-Anon Works. I also signed up for a subscription to the Forum. These pieces of literature have helped my recovery grow and deepen my spirituality. My relationships have improved. As a literature distribution coordinator, I want to be a power of example who not only works the program but sponsors others and reads literature daily.”
As members begin to recover, the first service they do often involves helping in some way with the literature for their home group. Perhaps they help set up the literature display or pack it up at the end of the meeting.
- A member shares, “I love setting up the literature to look exciting at the meeting. I have a background in retailing so I know the value of things looking appealing. I also enjoy leaving the literature organized each week. It’s a sign of respect and honor that our literature always looks cared for and important.”
Members may hand out newcomer packets or place copies of selected passages on the seats before the meeting begins. They may help write the prices on the books or pamphlets or help with sales at the break. At some point they may even become the “literature rep” for their group.
- A member shares, “I was so shy, I didn’t share for the first two years in Alanon…in ANY size meeting. AND I used a fake name too. But I immediately connected to the literature. At meetings, announcing literature has helped me overcome my shyness because I so want new people to have the benefit of our written experience and wisdom. I always try to use an enthusiastic voice because I needed to hear that so much when I was a newcomer… And still do! Interacting with the members this way over the years is how I have broken my isolation, started making calls, developed a sense of humor and eventually worked with a Sponsor.”
- A member shares, “Having worked in two rooms as the Literature person, I want to share my experience with you. The Literature person does more than just supply the Literature needs of the members. Sometimes a member needs to be directed to this or that publication. This helped me connect with new and long term fellows. Have I read all the books yet? No. Not nearly. One day at a time... one book at a time... keep coming back to the literature... it works.”
Serving as a literature rep takes time and effort – like all worthwhile endeavors.
- A member shares, “I remember the first time I “did literature” for my group. I had to go way downtown to the fringes of the financial district to pick up some books and newcomer’s packets. I was really annoyed – it was out of my way, the hours were inconvenient, the subway was delayed. Why couldn’t “Al-Anon” house itself in a better spot – why wasn’t it opened all the time – and why did it take so damned long for anyone to return my phone calls? So I was in a mood by the time I reached the office – shall we say “irritable and unreasonable without knowing it?” The door was opened by a harried woman I vaguely recognized from the rooms who let me know that she’d waited for me, that she had an appointment way uptown and did I have cash? And it hit me like a freight train – there was no “Al-Anon.” It was just us. We were Al-Anon – all us irritated, lonely people who volunteer and answer phones and order books and make sure the doors are open and the chairs are in a circle when someone needs a meeting. Since that day I have always made sure to take a service position every quarter. Because I know that if I don’t pitch in – if we don’t all pitch in – there may not be someone to open the door when I need it.”
Serving as a Literature Rep or Liaison or Coordinator has an added bonus. It makes us feel connected to the program in a profound way. What started as a refuge becomes a home.
- A member shares, “As the literature liaison and a volunteer in the intergroup office I have had the opportunity to look through many of the older books offered through WSO. For me the intergroup office has become a pleasant place to sit and skim through the books, kind of like a community center or reading library.”
- A member shares, “I love going to Intergroup to stock up because I often find nuggets of wisdom that I can also add to the mix for longer term members. I even heard at Intergroup that there is a new adult meeting that is using the Alateen The Courage To Be Me for their weekly reading. At Intergroup, I’ll also hear about “what has been selling a lot lately” and that will help me evaluate our meeting’s mix. “
There are many ways to do service through literature. One way is to share your thoughts for our next column. Remember, without you, this would just be a blank page…