by Deborah G.

“Our hearts have been both broken and filled with joy following the ups and downs of the women’s lives, and we have made some lifetime friends in recovery.”

My work with the Northern California Hospitals and Institutions Committee (H&I) has given me a special kind of bonding that I couldn’t get elsewhere – with struggling alcoholics and with other A.A. members doing service in H&I.

I started out in H&I as a meeting secretary at a homeless shelter in north Berkeley, where we would get anywhere from zero to five people. Most residents had been in and out of A.A. for years; the speakers and I cheered them on for showing up. The most appealing speakers were people with limited time themselves because they were just a few steps ahead of the residents. I drove home after every meeting grateful for my sobriety and my warm home.

After some years I switched to speaking at H&I meetings whenever I was asked. I got an appreciation of the many ways people were doing the footwork to stay sober. Members poured their hearts out in our meetings, having learned to reach out to others in recovery.

In 2014 my friend Sheena and I (both from the Rap at Noon meeting) noticed women were attending our meeting from a nearby long-term recovery program, Serenity House (previously called Sister 2 Sister). That program had been sending women to our meeting off and on since the early 2000s, but often residents couldn’t get away for meetings because of their program’s requirements.

We decided to bring an H&I meeting to Serenity House, where I took on the role of facility coordinator and still remain so today. The meetings are often very moving, and it is gratifying to hear speakers reach others with their stories. Our hearts have been both broken and filled with joy following the ups and downs of the women’s lives, and we have made some lifetime friends in recovery.

At every H&I meeting I am motivated to carry the message of hope that recovery offers us all, even when we can’t picture where we’re going next. I am always reminded of the importance of acceptance of where we are now, just for today. And just like in every regular A.A. meeting, I remember to be grateful for my sobriety today.

I have to include the pleasure of attending monthly business meetings of our Area 53 H&I committee! I find so much recovery in these caring, responsible people who give their time to freely extend the hand of A.A.  Whether in person or on zoom, the meetings share goodwill, hope, and unquestioning service.  

If you are interested in volunteering, speakers with at least 6 months sobriety are needed for both day and evening meetings at recovery and community centers. Members with a year of sobriety can serve as a meeting secretary once a month or as a facility coordinator.  Many locations are reopening to H&I meetings after shutting their doors for the last two years.

As a speaker, secretary, or facility coordinator, you can count on a gratifying experience every time you do service.

Deborah G.’s home group is Rap at Noon, which means Monday-Sunday at noon on Zoom.

To learn more about H&I or to volunteer, attend the monthly meeting on the first Wednesday of each month. Orientation for new folks is at 7:00 PM followed by the business meeting at 7:30 PM. The meeting is currently on Zoom, to get the zoom code contact the area chairperson, Chase C., at area53handi@gmail.com