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Back to Live – One Group’s Experience

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Months into AA’s International experience of meeting virtually, groups are beginning to meet in person once more. In Western Washington, this is one group’s experience (so far).


When we had to close our doors temporarily, we thought it would only be a few weeks. We held meetings on Zoom and started electronic contributions, but we wanted to get our doors open as soon as we were able to reach the still suffering alcoholic. We watched the news closely, looked at our state and county requirements. We rent from a private landlord. We made a decision to continue paying our full expenses even when our physical location was closed. We started laying the ground work of what our meeting would look like in phase 2. Based on the information we had, we felt we fit within the spiritual gathering requirements. We put together a document for meeting attendees to review upon entering, we printed CDC guidelines for washing hands, we had a symptom list for our greeter to ask attendees, we had an optional contract tracing list, we had cleaning instructions for before and after the meetings, we took temperatures at the door, we even had a plan for bagging our literature for three days after use.

Once we had an idea of what the requirements were, we had business meetings. Our first decision to make was do we want to open if we must limit our number of attendees to 10? We said yes. We decided that as long as we were willing to stay in the solution, we could overcome this obstacle. Contingency plans in place were some members would be willing to give up their seats or we could have a small group outside.

We kept watching the news waiting for our county to enter phase 2. In the meantime, we did an overhaul on our meeting space. We are kind of famous for our grungy couches, but we knew they must all go. We taped off 6 feet from each chair, cleaned from top to bottom, posted all of our documents, bought a temperature gun, bought lots of cleaners. We made a decision to start slow and hold a limited amount of meetings and not advertise that we were open.

Our county went to phase 2 on a Friday and we were ready Monday. We had two hybrid meetings, that first one and a business meeting. That Friday it was all worth it. We had three people attend who had been in treatment when Covid hit and they were able to attend their first in-person meeting. The next week we had a young gentleman who came in for the first time to AA.

Now, I don’t want to mislead you. There have been challenges. We have lost some members for various reasons, including the requirement to wear masks. The latest disheartening decision we made was to close again temporarily. Our county put out a description specially for recovery groups that limits attendance to five. We felt that this number was too low to accomplish. We are back to Zoom. We hope to reopen our doors soon. The most important experience I can share, is keep up on your county requirements. They change and they change abruptly, so be diligent on checking that frequently. Also, almost everything we have done is now listed out in a document from New York Intergroup.

Contributed by Crystal S.
Pierce County Meeting