The maturity of the Greater Orlando AA fellowship was made apparent recently. In the September 19, 1990, meeting minutes of the Intergroup Steering Committee, it was announced that a check for $1,000 donated for the estate of an Al-Anon was returned with the suggestion that it be issued to Al-Anon. Another check of $1,000 as a bequest from her husband, one of our past members, was accepted.
This may not seem like much to those who are familiar with and who readily accept our 7th Tradition. However, it seems like we traveled a million miles to reach this point. On the one hand, the fellowship diligently observed the principle of anonymity as expressed in the 11th Tradition. In fact, this was practiced to a fault. For example, when our Intergroup representative was sent to visit a hospitalized member, it was virtually impossible to find the member because his last name was unknown. On the other hand, when it came to accepting money, we often ignored the 7th Tradition.
About a dozen years ago, a number of us visited the Women’s Club of Saints Peter and Paul Church. The movie “Chalk Talk” was shown, followed by a question and answer period. We AAs left, feeling satisfied that the session went well, that we were well received, and that we had indeed carried the AA message. As we were entering the car, our “leader” happily announced, “They gave me a check for $20.” The subsequent conversation went something like:
“You gave it back, didn’t you?”
“No, what for?”
“It’s contrary to our Traditions.”
“And you don’t think we need the money?”
The next day the $20 check was deposited to the Intergroup account before anyone could do anything about it. This of course was a blatant violation of the 7th Tradition.
Another time, we took a financial beating at one of our Appreciation Banquets when we overestimated our expected ticket sales. As a result, we lost $600 — quite a blow, since we were just surviving month to month. Then came a gift from heaven. An untraceable anonymous donor gave us $1800. There were those who felt that money was too hard to come by and that we “should not look a gift horse in the mouth.” Others correctly contended that the gift was exorbitant and should be limited to the guidelines suggested by GSO. (GSO placed a maximum cap of $300 for AA donations to their office at that time; it later grew to $1,000, keeping pace with the cost-of-living index. That $1,800 donation would be equivalent to $6,000 in today’s (1990) money market AA groups and Intergroups generally followed GSO guidelines regarding donations.)
The Appreciation Banquets are advertised as the only function put on by Intergroup that is intended to be a money maker (in addition to the fellowship provided). After losing $600 — about half our liquid assets — money was on everyone’s mind. There were cases where our members sold hundreds of dollars worth of Appreciation Banquet tickets to non-AA business contacts. When someone blew the whistle on this tradition-breaking incident, he was treated like a leper.
Several years ago, M.R. chaired a committee whose task was to make suggestions to the Intergroup Steering Committee and Delegates toward making our Intergroup Office fully self- supporting through our own contributions. This started the Steering Committee and Delegates thinking in terms of the traditions when dealing with or discussing financial matters. We became aware that the grey area — Is it or is it not within the traditions? — was not a mile wide. The more we looked, the more we saw how loose we were in the area. Our Intergroup Office procedures were tightened. Tradition 7 — ’’Every A. A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions” — became a part of our everyday affairs.
Today (1990), Howard, our Intergroup administrator, challenges every contribution, verifying that the source is an AA group or member. As an example: Recently a juvenile offered a contribution to satisfy his probation requirement. A discussion with his probation officer revealed that the juvenile did not have a problem with alcohol. The juvenile was diplomatically taken off the book. His probation officer suggested another agency for contribution.
The probation office made a discovery: There existed an organization which declines outside contributions. By observing the spirit and intent of the 7th Tradition, the fellowship made two friends: the juvenile and the probation officer.
Yes, AA in the Greater Orlando area has come of age.
Previous Article: History of AA in Orlando: Growth & Changes In The Late 1970s / Next Article: History of AA in Orlando: Intergroup History and Highlights