Clean House, Help Others – Grapevine Article by Gary D.

Helping others in AA has a ripple effect that spreads beyond what we can see

I’m a meatcutter and in one job I had I worked normal 8 to 5 hours. In my spare time, I took meetings to halfway houses and other recovery homes trying to carry this message. I was all set to start taking meetings into a local prison.

Why do I do this? The Big Book puts it best: “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail…You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail.”

Then, as life would have it, the company I worked for suddenly closed. I got a new job, but a lot of things changed. Different hours every week, some very late, different days off every week and this affected my “normal” meeting schedule and studies and opportunity to share in the local prison. “Frequent contact with newcomers “was affected. So, what was next on this journey?

I was reading a Grapevine about six years ago, and there was a story about AA and Corrections, how prisoners could be contacted. I wrote and they sent me information and an inmate to contact and said this person is waiting for a letter. So I wrote introducing myself and told him what it was like, what happened, and what I am like now. Then I asked some questions. He wrote back in a couple of weeks, answered the questions and seemed very grateful.

So how do I carry this message to someone I have never met? The same way it was carried to me. We go through the Big Book from the beginning. I share what I’ve learned from my sponsors and elders. For me there is a lot of meditating and prayer involved.

One response I got was ” thanks for being such a big part of my life the last couple years.” I’m not looking for accolades, but we never know how far our help ripples. One guy asked if he could bring the letters to meetings. Please do! I’m not a Big Book guru. I share with them what was shared with me by those who came long before me.

I have been fortunate to have two to four inmates at a time all at different stages in their program, so I’m continually starting in the beginning of the Big Book and, hopefully, “growing in understanding and effectiveness.”

Another interesting side effect is all contacts don’t come from the AA Corrections desk. A son of a friend in the Fellowship, was about to go to prison. This friend asked if I would contact him, and I did. Our relationship has been growing for a couple years now. More importantly, his relationship with God has grown.

I’m a simple man and try to keep this program of recovery simple. It all boils down to:

Trust God as I understand Him. Clean house. Help others.

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