Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Meeting Money: Two Cheers

LifeRing meetings regularly send money collected in the basket or from books sold to the Service Center in Oakland. A volunteer at the Service Center enters the information into the computer and issues a receipt.

Here is an example of a useful report from a meeting convenor about money collected. Note the following good points:

  • The meeting number is given. This simplifies our computer entry.
  • The money collected is broken down by meeting date. Good!
  • The money is broken down between basket money and book money. Important for our bookkeeping!
There's only two small problems. One, the signature is illegible. This convenor's name and contact information probably aren't in our database. Consequently we can't send a receipt -- we sent a receipt anyway, but to another person in the meeting. Two, the amounts don't add up right -- the subtotals come to $186 but the money order is for $176.

Two cheers! We love getting detailed breakdowns of the money by date and source. Thank you! But please help us by spelling out your name and contact info so if there is a problem we can get in touch with you. Thank you.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Can Significant Others Attend LifeRing Meetings?

This email came in to the Service Center. I've edited it down to the essentials:

I have been clean and sober for 9 months tomorrow, and attend the meeting in __________.
There was a moment of friction in the meeting this morning which I may have perpetrated. I didn't mean to, and have apologized to the person to whom I had responded, according to some of the member presents, possibly inappropriately.
A woman who had never attended the meeting before, when her turn came, introduced herself and commenced to talk about her dysfunctional family--parents, sister, etc--including her mother who had used marijuana and alcohol, and her abusive yet needy father. She had recently taken a trip back to the Midwest to visit them. During the course of her talking, she never mentioned using drugs or alcohol, or them having been a problem, or her being in recovery.
I was unclear from her speaking whether she was in recovery or not, because she didn't really speak in the first person, or about herself much, but about other people she knew. Instead of asking about her recovery, I asked what her drug of addiction had been and how long she had been not using. She replied she would rather not answer that question if it were all right with me. I had been bubbling a bit with impatience about her speaking in generalities and not speaking about her own experience, and I said "no, not really", pretty civilly, I think. At that point, several members of the group pretty much jumped me verbally and said she wasn't obliged to say whatever she didn't feel like saying. I honor that. I was wrong. One of the members, whom I like a lot, said the forum (LifeRing) was for anybody who wanted to come, whether it be for addicted family members (like Alanon) or for, as I took it, for anyone who was experiencing any life issues at all relating to anyone using.
I apologized to the lady, saying that I had not understood the intent or the structure of LifeRing.
It is my understanding that LifeRing is for people in recovery and aspire to total abstinence.
If I am incorrect in my understanding, I would be interested to know, so I may shift my thinking about the role LifeRing plays in my recovery. I would prefer to participate in a group only of people in recovery, since I am feeling pretty vulnerable and wouldn't feel as safe or as free to share thoughts and feelings about my recovery experience with those present who were not in similar situations.
-- G.

I replied:

Dear G:

LifeRing meetings have always been open to any interested person, and we get occasional visits from students, treatment counselors, journalists ... and friends or relatives of people with alcohol/drug issues. Our charter and bylaws permit sober Significant Others to attend meetings, although you must be a person in recovery yourself in order to be elected to the LifeRing Board of Directors. My experience has been that SO's tend to learn and become more educated by attending, and that I, as a person in recovery, also learn and become more educated by their participation. That being said, few SO's attend meetings, and 99 44/100 per cent of meeting participants are themselves persons in recovery from a substance addiction. It sounds to me as if the incident at the meeting on Saturday was a small misunderstanding and should be forgotten. I hope that works for you and that you will continue to participate so long as you derive benefit from the meeting process.
With best regards,
- M.

Your comments?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Letter from a Counselor in Nebraska

Received at the LifeRing Service Center June 8, a letter dated June 6:

Dear LifeRing:

I was so pleased to hear your advertisement on NPR this morning. I came right home and checked out your website. Please put me on whatever lists you have to receive information about this organization. I believe it is something my clients and I have been looking for.

Nancy M.
Lincoln, NE

Did anyone else hear "our advertisement on NPR"?

Friday, June 1, 2007

Room for improvement in our service

Last week at the LifeRing Service Center we received an email from someone, let's call him Clark, looking for a LifeRing meeting in a certain city, let's call it Gotham.

We don't currently have a meeting in that city but we have about half a dozen people on our mailing list who live there -- people who have bought LifeRing Press books or contacted us for other reasons. I asked Clark whether it would be OK if I asked the people on our list to contact him. Clark said "sure" and provided his phone number in addition to his email address.

I fired off a short email to the half dozen people in "Gotham" on our list and asked them please to extend their support to Clark. I provided Clark's contact information.

By the end of the week, the only person who had contacted Clark was an AA participant who told Clark where the AA meetings were. (We have many AA participants on our LifeRing mailing list.) Not one person contacted Clark to extend LifeRing support. Not one email, not one phone call, not one invitation to meet over coffee and talk.

Shame on us! If we're going to grow and become an established mainstream institution, we have to do better than that. We have to understand that the secret of empowering one's sober self is to connect with other sober selves. The engine of self-recovery is connections with others. If we don't take every opportunity to connect with others, our own sober self is bound to shrivel ... a dangerous course.

-- Marty N.