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Anonymous history in your area
Growth of Central Offices
article is written by nationally recognized historian and
oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell K.
of Central Offices
Jack Alexander article in the Saturday Evening Post not
only began a large influx of prospective members into AA,
it began a new phenomenon. This new concept in AA was the
beginning of Central Offices and Intergroups.
March 2, 1941 a "Clearing House Committee" was
formed in Cleveland, Ohio. This was an outgrowth of the
AA Association which was formed in the late summer or early
fall of 1939. The AA Association helped keep records of
those prospects who were hospitalized for detoxification
in the Cleveland area. It also was responsible for making
sure all hospital bills were paid.
Clearing House Committee was comprised of two (2) members
from each and every AA Group in Cuyahoga County. The motion
that created this committee stated that "This Committee
to have NO AUTHORITY to commit, involve or bind any one
or all of the Groups in Cuyahoga County in any manner whatsoever
without first referring proposed ideas, plans or prepositions
to each individual Group for its acceptance or rejection."
New York City, the AA Clubhouse on 334 1/2 West 24th Street
was established in 1940. This was the hub of AA activity
on the local level. In 1942, the first New York City Central
Committee was formed to handle inquiries from new prospects.
They hired two (2) secretaries who were responsible for
answering letters and phone calls.
New Jersey meetings were also using the Clubhouse on West
24th Street as their headquarters. Meetings in New Jersey,
started by Hank P. began in 1936. Even though these weren't
officially, AA meetings, AA grew in New Jersey until it
was necessary to form their own Central Committee in 1944.
Central Offices or Committees were formed around clubhouses
until they could move out and pay rent on office space.
These committees helped consolidate the "business"
end of AA work and maintain a local telephone contact number
for prospective members as well as publishing their own
first newsletter was the Cleveland Central Bulletin.
Its publication began in October, 1942. It was an outgrowth
of the mimeographed "Bulletin to all Groups" as
a way of sending information not only to the Cleveland,
Ohio Groups, but to the Cleveland AA members serving in
the armed services. The New York headquarters liked the
Central Bulletin so much that they began publishing their
own "meeting in print" in 1944 - The Grapevine.
the 1940's, AA Central Offices sprung up around the country
as AA membership and the number of Groups grew. Each one
had their own set of rules and regulations affecting local
groups. Some areas even had rival Central Committees due
to one faction not agreeing with the other one's rules.
The long heard Rule 62 story probably came about as a result
of all of these rules and regulations. If all the rules
were put into effect by AA, no alcoholic would qualify for
membership in Alcoholics Anonymous.
story has it that a group responded to some questions posed
to them by Bill W. by stating that they are all doing well.
The members of that group were no longer drinking hard liquor
and only drinking beer. They thought that this was a great
accomplishment for hard-core alcoholics. The AA Club in
Springfield, Missouri was raided by the police on August
25, 1948 and seven members were arrested, tried and convicted
for gambling. Even though there was a 10 cent limit on bets,
the police still considered it gambling.
Central Committee, Central Office and Intergroup are all
part of AA's history and continue to be an integral part
of AA's growth. Local telephone services handle thousands
of calls for help on a daily basis all around the world.
Many use AA members to answer the phones and some use professional
answering services who either give out meeting information
or refer the calls to a local AA member. Many of these committees
or offices coordinate local activities, publish local literature
and order conference-approved literature in quantity so
that they may pass along the volume discount to the groups.
many areas do not understand the importance of Central Offices
or Intergroups and financial support for them is not forthcoming.
These offices are often the lifeline for the still sick
and suffering alcoholic who reaches out for help.
will be revealed...
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