Sunshine Club

So you’re calling it the Sunshine Club?

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We’ll get to that.

First, some history about how it all started. In August of 2019, Eastside Intergroup received a call from a member of our fellowship asking for help. ‘I know a couple who needs a meeting. They live in a retirement home, and do not drive. Is there anything you can do?’

Nancy O, our longtime ESIG Office Manager fielded the call. Even when you want to help …what or who is involved? Three alcoholics and a pre-amble shouldn’t be too hard to line up. ‘Yes, we’ll look into it!” Nancy replied. Most alcoholics know of or have been on 12-Step calls. How different could this be? Just as soon as a posse’ had formed more questions surfaced. Should we go back in a month? What if there are others who are home bound and need a meeting? What about folks at home under medical supervision? Do we take a seventh tradition? What should we know about their medical condition? What about member safety? Can we bring coffee?

We say the responsibility pledge at our Intergroup meetings, our District meetings, and sometimes our homegroups, but who is responsible for the alcoholic who is in hospice and lost touch with AA? We’ve heard about homegroups travelling to other meetings, but member’s homes might be a different ballgame. Like our experience with the Twelve Traditions shows us many of these problems have been encountered already and perhaps solved.

In late September, Nancy and I were on a plane for Mesa Arizona to attend the ICOAA conference. Intergroup Central Office of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The ICOAA is a gathering of Intergroup Office Managers, Board members and anyone with a desire to learn about Intergroup. Three full days of workshops, and Intergroup business with GSO/ AAWS will fill your head quickly. Like you’d witness in any Area assembly many people come just to experience the energy from the room, and many for multiple years in a row. First time attendees were treated warmly, but I had much to learn.

Intergroups had already navigated some of our challenges. Many were willing to miss workshops just to hang out and share their experiences with newer members.
Anyone with questions are bound to find answers, or at the very least opinions.
During a workshop about Accessibility, a member of the central office of San Francisco Intergroup shared an experience that happened around ten years earlier. San Marin (CA) had an increasing number of members calling the hotline who couldn’t make it to a meeting. Members who couldn’t leave their houses because of temporary medical conditions, or were in hospitals for an extended period. Some would call their local Intergroup just to talk to other members, but many inquired about folks coming to them with AA meetings. These weren’t quite 12-Step calls, but it became apparent they had no where else to turn.

As the story goes in 2010 San Francisco developed a group to carry the message to these members. It had been driven into existence through the only place an alcoholic can find help, the hotline. As more calls came in the same folks felt compelled to respond. Soon a membership base formed solely to answer these calls. They developed ‘best practices’, and outlined guidelines for members wanting to be of service. The list of volunteers grew to nearly one hundred. The group gained such popularity that after a few years spin off groups found their way around the area although none could replicate the numbers, or success this group had created.

Hence, was the beginning of San Francisco’s own “Sunshine Club.”

On our flight back from Mesa, I had written down three very passable alternative names.

R.O.W  Recovery on Wheels
C.R.E.W   Carrying Recovery Every Where
B.A.M  Bringing Alcoholics Meetings

Need a meeting? BAM! There it is. How about help from the C.R.E.W? Boys in the Boat was still in the NY Times bestsellers list. C.R.E.W or R.O.W would pay a nice homage to the University of Washington men’s rowing team.

Maybe there was a value to keeping the name. Sure, there’s a banal tongue and cheek reference to Seattle rain in there. Any reference to the big book’s ‘sunlight of the spirit’ passage from How It Works would certainly be auspicious. You couldn’t deny that San Francisco had made it what it was through its trials, and probably a few misses along the way. After considering it over the next few days we decided there was a bigger homage to pay, and we opted to keep the name the way it was.

Since its inception in October of 2019, the Seattle chapter of the Sunshine Club has had four meetings and has around eighteen volunteers. We’re still shaping a few small things to our liking, but grateful we got to use the experience from the others before us.

The Mission of the Sunshine Club is to bring meetings to members of AA who are unable to attend regularly scheduled meetings due to accident, illness, or temporary medical condition.

To be of service, or to have a meeting brought to you email sunshineclub@eastsideaa.org.