Intergroup, the heartbeat of AA
An Intergroup is an association of groups of Alcoholics Anonymous within a designated area, often encompassing a number of small, neighboring communities. In large cities the same function is performed by a Central Office. Both the Intergroup and the Central Office deal only with local services. While considered an integral part of Alcoholics Anonymous, they are not within the organizational structure linking groups, Districts, Area Assemblies and, ultimately, the annual General Service Conference held in New York City.
The Intergroup used as an example here consists of approximately 120 groups in a semi-rural area. Its geographical boundaries encompass one entire county in central Florida.
The purpose of any Intergroup is to act as the public voice of its members, to disseminate information to both the general public and its own members, and to aid the individual members of the groups in their common goal: to stay sober and to help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
The Intergroup is governed by a Steering Committee. The office where Intergroup business is conducted is under the administration of a paid employee; all other duties are performed by more than 200 volunteers. Members of the Steering Committee, the office administrator, and all volunteers are alcoholics in recovery who are active members of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Steering Committee is answerable to the Intergroup Representatives; each group sends an Intergroup Representative to a monthly meeting which reviews the actions and decisions of the Steering Committee. Officers and Trustees of the Steering Committee are elected for 2-year terms by the Intergroup Representatives.
The 120 member groups collectively hold 260 meetings per week, some in jails and treatment facilities, many in churches and civic locations. Other meetings are held in clubhouses which, while oriented towards 12-Step Programs, are owned and operated by outside entities. The Intergroup serves only the groups and their individual members. It does not serve the clubhouses, nor does it receive any financial help from them. One of the major tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is self-supporting through its own efforts and does not accept outside contributions.
In addition to contributions from the member groups, Intergroup is financed by the sale of literature and other items related to its 12-Step program. Being a non-profit organization, Intergroup sells these items at a very low profit margin. The financial aim of Intergroup, as ordered by its by-laws, is to support itself through its membership and to maintain a prudent reserve equal to six months of operating expenses. This particular Intergroup has never accumulated more than its prudent reserve.
"Service to others" is an important aspect of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous. The 200 volunteers working directly through Intergroup perform many duties. A telephone "Help" line is maintained on a 24-hour basis by volunteers on 4-hour shifts who are known as The Phone Army.
Anyone requesting one-on-one help with his or her alcoholism is put in contact with a volunteer 12-Stepper, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous with long-term sobriety who will telephone or visit the person requesting help. Public Information requests are handled by volunteer speakers who remain anonymous; high schools, classes of medical students, and civic organizations frequently use this service. As the policy of Alcoholics Anonymous is to "attract rather than promote", no overtures are ever made in this area by anyone associated with Intergroup or Alcoholics Anonymous.
The Intergroup office utilizes volunteers for general office work, accounting and inventory control, sales personnel, and maintaining a database of pertinent information. Meeting lists are produced for the groups and for public distribution where requested. A monthly newsletter coordinates multi-group functions. A web site, available to the public, lists all meetings and an events calendar. The history of Alcoholics Anonymous in the Intergroup area is preserved in an Archives section at the Intergroup office.
"Fellowship", a sense of community, is a very important part of recovery for the individual alcoholic. AA members often attend many different meetings within their geographical area but most belong to a "home group" which they attend on a regular basis. This is the primary support group for its members. As fellowship is the glue that holds each individual group together; an Intergroup forms a sense of community for its member groups.
A.A. Pamphlets, available at any Intergroup office :-
- Circles of Love and Service
- The A.A. Group
- The Twelve Traditions Illustrated