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Message From G.S.O. New York/Canada

Dear Friends,

Many of you have written or called wanting to know how you can be of help to GSO and the Fellowship in our area in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I hope you find the attached document informative. We deeply appreciate your reaching out to us in this way and do want you to know that our employees are safe and we are extremely grateful that no major injuries have been reported. Many suffered damaged property, some homes were destroyed and most experienced extended loss of power, heat and transportation.

G.S.O. reopened on Monday, November 6 and folks who are able are returning to work. Together, we are meeting each day, supporting one another and thankful to continue the services and communication with each of you and with your Areas.

In Gratitude, Phyllis H. General Manager, GSO US/Canada

Responding to Disasters

Q. How Can We Help?

A. After disasters, the General Service Office is often inundated with questions about how to help our A.A. family in distressed areas. We hope the following questions and answers are helpful.

Q. How does G.S.O. help A.A. groups in distressed areas?

A. The General Service Office is ready to support the efforts of local A.A. members in all types of disasters; hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes, mud slides, etc. Since it is rare for A.A. entities to own property (most local A.A. offices and groups rent their spaces), replenishing literature tends to be the main concern after a disaster. G.S.Os experience is that we are often called upon to replace some lost literature, and we are happy to fulfill these requests. Thanks to continuous and generous contributions from A.A. groups in the U.S. and Canada, year round, G.S.O. is ready to respond upon request.

It is often difficult to imagine what is needed immediately following a disaster. In many cases, the immediate needs are for survival items. Food, water, shelter and medicine which A.A. does not provide. It often takes time, days, weeks, in some cases months for the local A.A. community to determine precisely what is needed so that A.A. groups can get back on their feet. So as not to interfere with emergency relief efforts, G.S.O. usually waits until the local conditions are stabilized and local A.A. members have an opportunity to let us know exactly what is needed. Our experience suggests that many local A.A. groups and offices view the situation as a Twelfth Step opportunity and try to meet the needs of the local A.A. community before asking for help from G.S.O. or other A.A. entities.

Q. So exactly what does the General Service Office do then?

A. G.S.O. contacts and offers support to intergroups, central offices, General Service delegates and trustees in the affected communities. We wait to hear back from these offices and trusted servants, and gladly respond to their requests for help.

Q. Do you suggest that we send literature and money directly to the affected local A.A. offices?

A. In the instance where an A.A. entity asks for assistance, such as through an announcement placed on a local A.A. Web site, it is up to each A.A. member or group to determine whether or how it wishes to respond. If your group wishes to help an affected A.A. office, you may wish to contact them directly to determine what the current need is. Shared experience suggests that after a disaster, local A.A. offices and groups often require very few contributions of money or complimentary literature. In many cases, local A.A. members are happy to work together to replace lost literature or office supplies before asking for help outside their local A.A. community. Local groups often make whatever repairs are necessary to their meeting places. Regardless of your personal or group response, it is important to keep in mind that many of the affected areas may not have mail delivery or electricity after a disaster or available storage space.

Q. Can I send money to G.S.O. and specify that it be used for disaster relief activities, such as replacement of literature?

A. Every A.A. dollar received at G.S.O. is used on a priority basis to carry A.A.s message when a need is expressed. This includes responding to literature needs after disasters. G.S.O. does not accept A.A. funds that are earmarked for disaster relief or any other specific project, since G.S.O. needs to be able to respond whenever, wherever, there is an expressed need.

Q. So what can I do to help?

A. Many A.A. members choose to support non-A.A. relief organizations in the wake of a disaster as private citizens and individuals. Members may feel compelled to reach out and assist with efforts to bring food, water, shelter and medicine into affected areas. Our experience suggests that many A.A. members in the past have helped as private citizens through relief organizations in just this way. In keeping with A.As Traditions, these members do not donate under the A.A. name or credit A.A. in any way. In regards to helping the A.A. community specifically, it can be difficult for us to answer, due to some of the challenges mentioned above. The General Service Office handles direct requests for literature from those affected. If a situation arose where the expressed need could not be met by G.S.O. resources alone, we would contact local A.A. groups and ask for additional help. This has not occurred to date.

Lets keep all affected in our prayers.

MAILING ADDRESS: A.A. World Services, Inc., P.O. Box 459, Grand Central Station New York, NY 10163 (212) 870-3400

OUR LOCATION: A.A. World Services, Inc., 11th Floor 475 Riverside Drive at West 120th St. New York, NY 10115

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 “A vast communications net now covers the earth, even to its remotest reaches... nothing matters more to AA’s future welfare than the manner in which we use the colossus of modern communication.  Used unselfishly and well, it can produce results surpassing our present imagination.” - Bill W., The AA Grapevine, Inc., November 1960
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Last reviewed / updated May 10, 2015.
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