As an Al‑Anon member, I am always grateful when a new face enters the room. Whether it is someone’s very first Al‑Anon meeting, someone visiting from out of town, or a student completing an assignment for school, I get excited. This is an opportunity for the group to share the message of hope that Al‑Anon offers to anyone affected by someone else’s drinking. It gets me thinking…when was the last time a newcomer came to the meeting?

Our Traditions are what guide us as Al‑Anon members, and where I learned about spiritual principles like service, respect, responsibility, and unity. What is my purpose in attending Al‑Anon meetings? Recently I re-read two very telling pages that helped me focus on that very subject. The first was page 191 from Hope for Today (B-27), which speaks to what may be happening if I’m not feeling good about myself after just attending a meeting. Was I even focused on listening to others in the meeting? Many times, my own thoughts can divert me from my own spiritual aim. Am I judging someone as they are sharing? Is he talking about the alcoholic again? When is he going to get it? I am reminded that Al‑Anon is a program of repetition, and that I am here because I need comfort and support as a result of someone else’s drinking.

Page 343 of One Day at a Time in Al‑Anon (B-6) talks about what I can do in my group to keep the meeting inviting to newcomers. It got me thinking…when was the last time the group had a discussion about welcoming anyone new to the meeting? When was the last time our group did any kind of local community outreach to let people know about our Al‑Anon meeting? As members, we guard our anonymity, but our meetings are not a secret! We need to let people know that our meetings are here in spite of pandemics, lock downs, and natural disasters! What would I do, and where would I be, if there were no options to participate in an Al‑Anon meeting on the phone or online when my face-to-face group cannot meet? At this point in my recovery, I cannot afford to miss any Al‑Anon meeting!

What do I do when I go to a meeting and don’t get what I need? What if there is no rotation of service positions? How do I fix that? I have learned that Al‑Anon is a “we” program. I don’t have to do anything alone. I can participate in business meeting discussions. Although I may not always like them myself, business meetings are the only place where these issues can be shared in an environment of trust and honesty! The answers to many of the issues are found in the resources at our fingertips!

If our group has not received a newcomer in months, here are some ideas we can consider:

  • Take a look at the “Welcoming Checklist” on al‑anon.org/welcomingchecklist and talk about it at the meeting. Consider having a discussion in the group business meeting about what to say and do when a newcomer is at their first Al‑Anon meeting or visiting from out of town.
  • Once everything is in place to welcome new folks, consider looking around the neighborhood to see if it’s possible to leave information about the meeting. Is there a community board in the grocery store, pharmacy, or laundromat? Take a look at the Public Outreach page on al‑anon.org/PO for ideas.
  • When chairing a meeting, consider using resources like the “Slogans” on al‑anon.org/slogans and change it up!
  • Does the group have an elected Group Representative (GR) and Alternate Group Representative (AGR) who participate in District and Area Information Service (AIS) meetings? Even if there is no GR or AGR, did you know you can still go to the District, AIS, and Area Assembly meetings?

The Al‑Anon Declaration says it all, and I always feel better when I “Let It Begin with Me.”

By Sue P., Associate Director—Group Services

The Forum, June 2021

Feel free to reprint this article on your service arm website or newsletter, along with this credit line: Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al‑Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., Virginia Beach, VA.