Being of Service by Connecting Groups with Speakers

I am retired and in my personal travels I made an effort to visit local groups when I could. On some occasions the groups I visited were small and had limited sobriety. In those cases I was often asked to give my story. I am always grateful for a chance to be of service by sharing my personal experience, strength, and hope and making new friends.

Around the same time, the US Southeast Region of SA (SERSA) was evaluating ways to be of service to the intergroups in our region. We realized there were many unrepresented groups and even areas where there was not an intergroup. We had small groups in various geographic pockets of our region that had minimal sobriety. Maybe we could provide service by connecting sober members with these smaller groups.

Our region established a protocol for speakers that requires at least three years of sobriety, approval of their sponsor, and confirmation of support of the SA principles and sobriety definition. We maintain a list of potential speakers off the internet. When a request comes from a group for a speaker, we send a blind copy email to all potential speakers and ask them to contact the group making the request. The list itself is not shared.

Initially the majority of speakers were from the immediate Atlanta, Georgia, area. Gradually others were added. Our region sent out notices on our list server asking if groups in the region needed a speaker. In the beginning, in-person meetings were the normal arrangement. We were able to connect groups with willing members who would share their story. We connected with groups mainly in North Carolina and Florida.

Even at that time, we offered remote speakers using WhatsApp and phone only. Gradually that opened the rest of the world. We gave talks in Texas and other areas of the USA. Germany, Egypt, Iran, and other European countries were areas we gave talks via electronic means. Once we were able to open up the rest of the fellowship, we gradually became a speaker service not limited just to small groups. We have placed speakers at local groups, marathons, and international conventions. Our biggest challenge has been to get the word out to groups. We have advertised at international meetings and local marathons.

I like to say that those speaker meetings are good. If I listen, there is always something I need to hear. When a meeting focuses more on the solution and when we focus on our own experiences, I get more out of the meeting. I say, I have a PhD in the problem, but I am still in kindergarten on the solution. I want to hear others share more about the solution in their journey. When I have spoken as a guest or at virtual meetings, I focus on the solution. I talk about how the Steps have made me a better person who is willing to be of service to others.

From my own experience I have seen how a strong meeting, one filled with the spirit of our Higher Power, can completely change the feel of a meeting. I have been in meetings where we would read one or two paragraphs, and then it was like a flood gate opening. People would begin to share their experience, strength, and hope about the solution, and it would continue for the next 20-30 minutes. We could literally feel the presence of a Higher Power at work in the meeting.

In-person meetings have always been more effective for me, but now with limited social interaction, our virtual speakers can be an important and valuable tool to help carry the message. With tools like Zoom, WhatsApp, and other virtual video services we can get the next best thing to being in an actual room together. I have worked with sponsees overseas and when I only use audio I cannot see the agony in a person’s eyes, or their head lowered in shame, or them holding their hands over their face. I need to see the emotion in a person’s face. The virtual meeting with video technology can be a very powerful tool.

The third weekend in January 2021, Atlanta, Georgia, hosted the first completely virtual SA/S-Anon International convention. We had great speakers and heard many stories of recovery. Some of the most powerful were when we could see the emotion in a speaker’s face during their talk. They were speaking from the heart. We were blessed to have an S-Ateen speak at this event. Her share was so personal and from the heart that it was easy to see her pain and then the joy of her acceptance and recovery as her story unfolded. I dare say there was not a dry eye anywhere among the 950 people listening and watching.

If your group would like to have a guest speaker, send a request to saspeakers@gmail.com. Provide the details of date, time of day, time zone, and if you have any specific requests for topics.

Any SA member who meets the requirements listed above can have their name and contact information added to our list. Send an email to saspeakers@gmail.com with your first name and last initial, years of sobriety, time zone where you reside, and if you have any special circumstances or parts of your story that might be more unique.

The pandemic has given us the opportunity to increase the number of possible ways we can share our stories and help others in recovery. The widespread acceptance and use of platforms like Zoom have been a welcome addition to our technological tools.

Please pass this information to fellows, groups, intergroups, and regions. We welcome group requests and speaker volunteers. We want as many speakers as possible so we have a better chance of helping groups in need of a speaker.

Ken J., Georgia, USA

Total Views: 77|Daily Views: 1

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!