After moving away from the “club” atmosphere, the Intergroup Office was staffed exclusively by volunteers. There were numerous keys to the office floating around, but no one was worried. There was nothing in the office worth stealing. The two old but serviceable military surplus desks were donated by members, as were the several assorted odd chairs and dirty, leaky mimeograph machine. The only other piece of furniture was handmade a book/pamphlet display case built by the energetic Robbie R.
The club was separated into two camps — those who continued to work within the Intergroup structure at the 205 E. Jackson Street address, and those who would have nothing to do with the “renegades” who were causing “disunity” by moving the Intergroup Office away from the club.
Initially it was difficult to find enough AA members to respond to the calls for AA help. Chuck B. was a recent arrival from Gary, Indiana, where he served as chairman of the Intergroup. He staffed the Central Florida Intergroup Office each Friday. Often at the end of the day he had a few unfinished 12th-step calls which he could not get other AA members to handle. So he and friend Jim O’H. would spend the weekend calling on drunks who had asked for help. Referring a prospect to a meeting without first visiting the person was simply not considered. At the time there was no such thing as temporary sponsorship. The one who took the 12th-step call visited and, if need be, carried the person to his first few meetings. The prospect was escorted and introduced to AA members in several groups. In this way, the newcomer got to meet every active AA member in the area in a matter of a couple of months. Sponsorship in the early 1970s started with the first call.
The five volunteers who each staffed the office for a full day soon found relief when more daytime volunteers came upon the scene. Although this reduced working hours considerably, coordination and continuity became more difficult.
During August 1973, Marie G., one of the daytime volunteers, was hired for a three-month trial period. The salary was a tremendous one of $75 a month ($18.75 a week). She would line up volunteers for the office, be there all day, and then take all night calls when the nighttime volunteers were unavailable, which was often. She was grossly underpaid!
Marie, a native of Massachusetts, spoke “Bostonian Irish.” People would go out of their way just to come by and talk with her. She was a very compassionate person who would drop everything to help an alcoholic. Many in our AA community remember Marie’s loving voice when they first called AA. She liked being surrounded by people, cracking jokes with the best of them. Few were able to match her wit. She was not a trained office administrator, and there were times when problems with office routine would test her tolerance. However, all that was necessary to restore her serenity was a call for help from a suffering drunk.
Marie created a cheerful, can-do environment in the Intergroup Office where the welfare of the alcoholic came first.
The Central Florida Intergroup Services Incorporated received its Florida State Charter, #728175, December 1973.
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