Volunteer Day on November 5!
The program is simple and will include a panel of seasoned volunteers sharing their experience, strength, and hope. There will also be an overview of the current WSO committee system, with some in-depth committee presentations. The goal is to humanize the process of stepping up to be of service.
Recounting their journeys through ACA service, the panelists may explore questions like:
How did you first learn about WSO?
Did you have a friend or acquaintance already volunteering?
Did you begin as a Representative from a meeting?
Did you have a specific interest when you arrived? How and where did you go?
What were your feelings? How did you participate?
Did you reach out to fellow volunteers, developing relationships?
Everyone began as a new volunteer, once upon a time. The shares of the service panel speakers will inspire ACA members considering service, as well as the recently arrived Committee members.
My Own Journey
Hi, My name is Jim. To give you an example of the type of service journeys that you may hear about on Volunteer Day, I will offer my own. Note that everyone’s journey is unique, but woven throughout our stories are the common threads of caring and gratitude, self-doubt and trepidation. We’re really all just kids entering the playground. Here’s how I got here…
My journey into ACA began soon after the death of my mother. My dream of the “Some day…” relationship set sail while I stood on the shore. I was on my own now and it was time for me to divine my future. By myself. No… with myself.
It was actually the rooms of Al-Anon, that I first entered, challenging myself to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. Around day 40-something, a newly made friend suggested I attend this ‘other’ meeting – ACA. I found the meeting and found my home.
Self-Parenting With Love, in Brooklyn, NY was the perfect introduction to the recovery I sought. For me, slowly, gently attending meetings and creating fellowship were perfectly nurturing. I bought literature but didn’t actually read the books. (I’m still not a big reader.) For me, for the first 10 months or so, it was meetings and making friends.
Next, I began working steps with 2 fellow travelers. This too was wonderfully slow and thoughtful. Again, we were helping each other learn to love and accept ourselves. Many months into our step work, my fellow traveler, Traci, suggested I join the fledgling Greater NY ACA Intergroup. She had been involved with the rebirth of the organization and had gone to a World Service conference in Austin. I got involved. Right from the start I became the Secretary, helped plan a Share-A-Day, created a rudimentary website (who knew?), and in 2016, I attended the WSO Annual Business Conference in Delray, Florida. This was my first connection with World Service.
I went to the conference as a Delegate of the Intergroup and felt that I should report back what I learned about the organization. I wrote about the experience. The report, as I recall, was not entirely complimentary. I was critical of the agenda, the opportunities to participate, the seating plan… yeah… in my estimation there was even a somewhat confrontational atmosphere. Thinking that the Chair of the Conference might eventually see the report, I decided to send a copy to him as well.
Bill D, who had chaired, contacted me after receiving the report and basically asked, “When can you start?”
I, the still reactive, somewhat wounded child, had expected a rebuke or at least a defensive response to my truths – the flaws or disappointments I had outlined in my report. Instead, I was welcomed. My observations were not dismissed. And where there were challenges, I was encouraged to participate to collaboratively find solutions.
The Conference in Delray, along with the first-ever ACA World Convention, inspired many ACA members to participate in World Service. For me, I found a place in the ABC Committee – the Annual Business Conference, where I helped plan the ABCs of the next few years, in San Diego, Toronto and Malmö, Sweden.
From the vantage point of today, I marvel at my earlier self – the… hmm, what’s word?… gumption? Yeah. I mean, what did I know about organizing a conference? Luckily it was a team effort and there were members of the fellowship who could handle hotel agreements and audio/visual wires and plugs. In my estimation, I brought optimism and magnetism and the occasional good idea. I guess it was enough.
During that time, I also began assisting with other committees. As the eventual Chair of the ABC/AWC Committee, it seemed natural that I would want to understand both the OPPM (the Operating Policy and Procedures Manual) and the ballot preparation process. So, I joined both of those committees. Today, of the three, I’m still on the Ballot Prep Committee.
More recently, about a year ago, I raised the observation with a friend who volunteers as a Board member, that there was yet to be established a committee focused on supporting the WSO volunteers. We had a discussion. A few months passed and, well… the long and the short of it… 6 years later, I was back at the beginning, basically hearing the call… “When can you start?”
Secretly I hold the dream of retiring to a quiet corner of the Literature Development Subcommittee – there, with a dedicated group of friends, working with words and well wishes.
So Many Journeys!
On November 5th we will have the opportunity to experience the journeys of other WSO volunteers. There is no one path. And everyone can be the inspiration for another ACA member. There may be a common theme to the shares of Volunteer Day – recognizing the initial self-doubt and getting involved anyway; finding the right fit, as to the committee; making friends and developing relationships.
The only way to see if these themes emerge is to attend. See you there!