WHAT IS A CENTRAL OFFICE OR INTERGROUP? A central office (or intergroup) is an A.A. service office that involves partnership among groups in a community—just as A.A. groups themselves are partnerships of individuals. A central office is established to carry out certain functions common to all the groups—functions which are best handled by a centralized office—and it is usually maintained, supervised, and supported by these groups in their general interest. It exists to aid the groups in their common purpose of carrying the A.A. message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
FUNCTIONS OF A CENTRAL OFFICE OR INTERGROUPThe A.A. experience has demonstrated that central offices are helpful, particularly in populous areas. There are nearly 1000 central intergroup offices throughout the world, performing vital A.A. services. These constitute a network of service outlets and A.A. contacts to help carry the A.A. message. Sometimes, however, central office ventures have bogged down in disputes over money, authority, and like matters— thus becoming less effective in carrying the A.A. message.
It’s not always clear why these troubles have come up, but often it’s been because the proper functions of a central office were not clearly explained or understood, or there was some disregard of the principles in A.A.’s Twelve Traditions. So the following suggestions have been made to outline the basic services a central office might offer:
- A.A. Inquiries—By providing an Alcoholics Anonymous listing in the local telephone directory, the central office may receive inquiries from those seeking help. They will refer the caller to a nearby A.A. group, where sponsorship may be arranged, or have a twelfth stepper contact them. Many local A.A. offices now have their own Web site.
- Office Facilities - The central office can maintain a conveniently located office in which paid workers and/or volunteers are available to carry the message of A.A. to the alcoholic.
- Meeting Lists - At regular intervals, the central office may publish and distribute up-to-date lists of meetings and other information about local A.A. services.
- Information Exchange - The service office may function as a clearinghouse for the circulation and exchange of information among all the A.A. groups in the community. In this same connec- tion, a logical function of the central office is to provide “program exchange” meetings, where group program chairpersons meet regularly to exchange meetings with other groups.
- Local Committees on Public Information (P.I.) and Cooperation - With the Professional Community (C.P.C.) in cooperation with district and area P.l. and C.P.C. committees—The central office is an ideal contact with those in the community seeking information about A.A. Thus, A.A.’s relations with the public and professionals in the alcoholism field are often handled through the cooperation of the area committee and central office. In general service areas where P.I. and C.P.C. committees are under the auspices of a General Service Committee, the central office works in close coop- eration with these committees. A.A. Guidelines and Workbooks on P.I. and C.P.C. are available from G.S.O.
- A.A. in Correctional and Treatment Facilities - The central office can maintain contact with local groups in correctional facilities and treatment facilities, offering literature and prerelease A.A. contacts and arranging for A.A. speakers and visitors to meetings. When there is a correctional or treatment facility committee for this pur- pose, the service office may assist it through close cooperation with local hospitals and prisons. Central offices handling institutional contacts are also urged to send for G.S.O. material, Guidelines on Correctional Facilities Committees and Guidelines on Treatment Facilities Committees and the Correctional Facilities and Treatment Facilities Workbooks.
- Local A.A. Events - An A.A. central office is a logical body to manage the details of an annual dinner, picnic, or convention, if the participating groups wish it.
- A.A. Bulletin or Newsletter - The preparation of a publication for periodic distribution to A.A. groups is often a function of the central office.
- Special Needs Services—Many central offices carry information on groups that are wheelchair accessible, or signed for deaf members. Some offices have TDD/TTY equipment for communicating with deaf alcoholics.
- Group events, individual anniversaries and local 12-step calls are best served by the Central Offices and Intergroups.
Source: A.A.®Guidelines "Central or Intergroup Offices" (Reprinted by permission)