One Tuesday night a lonely confused woman named “Sara” walks through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous. Sara feels alienated and depressed, feelings she has had most of her life. She is completely demoralized and knows she will never be accepted or feel loved by anyone again. But through all this despair she doesn’t want to die. So cautiously she slips in and sits in the far right chair in the very back row. She doesn’t raise her hand as a newcomer because she is too paranoid. She is too afraid they will see her and know and then she will be rejected one more time. So every Tuesday night she comes back and quietly sneaks into that chair in the back row because she doesn’t want to die and she has no place else to go.
And then one night she is called on and she tries to speak but cries instead. Or maybe one night someone notices her and walks up to her to welcome her. She is given a schedule of meetings and a list of AA phone numbers. She learns she is not alone, but she is still terrified. She learns about establishing a home group and makes the Tuesday night meeting her home group. A woman talks about the things she wants in her life, about how she wants to be and sound and look, and that woman becomes her sponsor.
Now when Sara walks through the door of Alcoholics Anonymous, people come up to her and say, “How are you doing, Sara?” and they mean it. She begins to feel the terror leaving. She is coffeemaker and they need her and now she sits in the front row. She is still scared at some other meetings, but now she has one that she can relax in. She feels a part of something for the first time in her life. Sara smiles now and looks over her family with love as she begins the meeting–she is now the secretary. She sees a lonely woman sneak quietly past everyone and sit down in the very last row on the far right-hand chair–she sees herself two years ago. She walks over and tells the woman she is home and can begin to belong now.
A year later Sara is the general service representative (GSR) for the Tuesday night meeting and then becomes district committee member (DCM) and continues to give back what she has received by carrying the message that she heard in her home group on Tuesday nights.
That is why home groups arc so very important to Alcoholics Anonymous. This is where people begin. This is where the spark of service work is first ignited. This is where the AA member begins to learn about the how of Alcoholics Anonymous. By selecting a home group, the newcomer begins to feel like he belongs somewhere. He begins to know people and let people know him. He feels safe in this meeting because he knows everyone’s story and where they came from. He gets to watch people come and go, so he can actually see what works and what doesn’t work. He develops close friendships and when the sea gets rough, he has people who can see the swelling waves.
The home group is where the AA member takes his first tiny step into making the support system of Alcoholics Anonymous work. This may be by just putting one dollar in the basket every week and knowing where it is going, or by washing coffee cups. By going to the same meeting every week, the AA member hears where the money is going, what the “central office” is, what a coordinator and a GSR do. This gives him a chance to participate in service work. If he did not have a committed home group where he was allowed to vote on issues in AA, he might never listen to anything the GSR or coordinator says to the group. Hence, by getting a home group, the AA member accepts the responsibility of participating in the whole system, thereby keeping the wheels of Alcoholics Anonymous rolling.
Home groups become the spokes in the big wheel of Alcoholics Anonymous. The wheel, according to the Seventh Tradition, cannot be moved by any outside contributions. Therefore, by each group being responsible to all AA services, this wheel can roll along and touch those Lone members who do not have the luxury of an AA meeting with coffee, donuts, hugs, and people sharing their experience, strength, and hope. It can rumble along and carry literature and experience, strength, and hope to institutions, treatment facilities, new groups, and all AA groups.
By home groups contributing to all AA services, Alcoholics Anonymous will continue to touch more and more families, men and women each year. Through this kind of support in your home groups, one Tuesday night a lonely alcoholic will not walk up the stairs to Alcoholics Anonymous and find the door barred shut. Through this kind of support one day more and more Saras will come tiptoeing through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous and get on that giant wheel that keeps so many of us clean and sober and free.