Area Inventory Progress Report

(Last Updated: June 24, 2016)

South Eastern New York Area of Alcoholics Anonymous conducted an inventory at the Area Assembly on November 7, 2015 that was facilitated by Immediate Past Northeast Regional Trustee, J. Gary L.  This section of our website has been created to keep members informed of progress on action items developed from the inventory.  It will outline:

- Questions from the inventory
- General responses formulated by the Area officers
- Comments provided by Area members in attendance, and
- Progress of action items from the inventory

A full transcript of the inventory minutes is available for download for members who want to review it. Not all comments warranted action.  We want to thank every single member of Area 49 who participated in this inventory and it is our hope that every action planned inside this report will help to:

- Better serve A.A. groups in South Eastern New York
- Help SENY to provide ongoing support and resources for those doing general service in Area 49
- Clarify direction SENY is going and display an ongoing effort for transparency within Area 49

Distribution of Progress Report:

Our Area Chair will keep this page updated on progress of action items -AND- will provide printed quarterly reports on progress for the body throughout 2016.

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Question No. 1:  What Is The Purpose Of The Area? Are We Doing Our Best To Fulfill It?

GENERAL RESPONSE (from SENY):

The primary purpose of SENY is to meet the needs of groups in South Eastern New York. SENY is aware that while we are a constituent part of the General Service structure in the United States & Canada, we are also about doing service work in the Area while providing tools and resources for other trusted servants at the County & District level to provide service.  Our goal will be to logistically remove barriers to service where at all possible making it easier and more meaningful to participate.

At the Area level, we are aware of declining attendance and are working on addressing it.  At the County level, we are encouraging trusted servants to better promote Area Assemblies at their meetings to their GSRs and DCMs as well. Over the coming months, we will be developing some tools to assist DCMCs to help with that which is addressed further down in this inventory report.

Comments From Members: “This assembly should be full of GSR’s.  We should be promoting assemblies better so we have a wider cross section of GSR.”

Action 1.1:

  • SENY will develop and distribute to County DCMCs a one-sheet type information piece that can be distributed to the GSRs to help the County promote the importance of attendance at Area assemblies and what the GSRs’ role is in an Area assembly.  Another way SENY is going to do a better job of connecting the various levels of the general service structure is to improve our annual efforts to themes and topics within that year’s General Service Conference, which we hope will drive trusted servant’s interest in how these themes may affect their group.
     
  • Lead: Chair / Alt. Delegate
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED]  6/20/16 - Area Chair worked with Alternate Delegate to create the one-sheet and the Alt. Delegate will distribute it to all DCMCs for distribution to their GSRs.  Download your copy.

Action 1.2:

  • SENY will recommend to the Service Sponsorship Chair that the orientations for new DCMs & GSRs be split up so as to provide clarity on a specific position.  Additionally, SENY will be creating a suggested framework as a resource for the Service Sponsorship Chair to build upon with their personal experience and presentation style.
     
  • Lead: Chair / Alt. Delegate
  • Action Taken: [IN PROGRESS]  Alt. Delegate to reach out to DCMC’s and ask them to pull together the best components of their Counties’ GSR Orientation materials and send them to him so that we can combine them into one “standardized” suggested format for our GSR Orientations and so that we can also share with all Counties should they want it. 

Comments from Members: “How do we get GSRs from our county to our area meeting?”  [See Action 1.1]

Action 1.3:

  • We are re-imagining our morning workshop structure at Assemblies where we are taking it from five (5) workshops each assembly to three (3).  A “Featured Workshop” on a timely topic along with a “Newcomers to Service” workshop (chaired by a GSR) and a New GSR Orientation will streamline content and provide more unity through higher attendance at fewer workshops.

    The new workshop tracks will be:
    - “Featured Workshop” on a specific topic important to those doing service.  We will encourage all presenters for this workshop to be well versed on the topic.
    - “Newcomers to Service” to help answer many of the questions trusted servants new to their position may have.
    - Separate “GSR & DCM Orientations”
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken:
    • (Part 1 - [COMPLETED]We started the new workshop format at the February 6, 2016 Assembly in the Bronx.  Both of the new workshops were moderated by GSRs from the host county and we will continue to ask GSRs to moderate morning workshops from host counties.
    • (Part 2 - [COMPLETED]) 6/20/16 - There will be no workshops at the September 2016 Assembly due to Area Elections taking up the entire day.  Our final Assembly in November 2016 will have only three workshops for attendees:  1.) Traditions Workshop  2.) Concepts Workshop  & 3.) GSR Orientation.

Action 1.4:

  • In an effort to provide more value to our members, we are creating informal interaction opportunities in the form of roundtables during the lunch break at each assembly where members can come together on a specific topic and discuss it over lunch.  The SENY Officers will be determining the topics for these roundtables, and welcome any suggestions.
     
  • Lead: Chair 
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED]  06/20/16 - Area Chair sent an email out to all Standing Committee Chairs asking them to complete this form letting SENY know if they can make themselves available to moderate informal table discussions about their committees at the two (2) remaining assemblies for 2016 (September & November).

Action 1.5:

  • SENY leadership will do a better job in encouraging Counties hosting Area assemblies to choose locations closer to public transportation.  We will encourage venues for assemblies that are accessible to public transportation (and it will be strongly suggested that they be no further than a 5 minute walk from a subway/train station whenever possible).  SENY will update its Assembly Planning Toolkit document distributed to County DCMCs to include this updated information.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] On January 30, 2016, our Area Chair revised and re-distributed to ALL County DCMCs, the SENY Assembly Event Planning Toolkit that added verbiage regarding transportation needs as outlined above.

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Question No. 2:  Community Representation (Who comes here?)

GENERAL RESPONSE (from SENY):

SENY is committed to doing its very best to meet and exceed the needs of all its members when and where it can.  We will constantly be open to ways in which we can modify existing processes to provide fair representation and ease of access to all our events.  We look forward to partnering with each and every entity we serve to maintain the highest standard of representation and access.

Comments from Members: “Time management at these events.  Why do we have workshops in the morning and conduct business in the afternoon?  Maybe conduct business in the morning when people are awake.  While I appreciate the work that is done here, maybe business that needs to be conducted in the morning.  We now have a lot of people attending the county meetings, but not as many come to assembly.”

Action 2.1:

  • We are rethinking what is being done at Area assemblies, what & how information is being reported at assemblies, as well as what are the most important reports to provide.  We will start including reporting opportunities from Area committee chairs as well as DCMCs at all assemblies.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED]  At the February 6, 2016 Assembly, Area Committee Chairs and County DCMCs we asked to report highlights on their committee/county work they are doing.  It is our hope that by allowing them to report what's going on in their committees/counties, it will encourage more engagement with them by Area GSRs.  We will continue this process at all future Assemblies. Additionally, on 06/24/16, the Area Chair sent an email to all Standing Committee Chairs and the Alternate Delegate (to inform the DCMCs) requesting all standing committee chairs submit written reports to be included in minutes for September 2016 Assembly (not time will be allowed on the agenda since it is the elections), but will be able to report live at November 2016 Assembly (and we will need printed copies of your reports for both our Spanish translator and our Area Secretary).  I am copying our Alternate Delegate on this email as well so he can send this request to all DCMC’s so they can provide printed reports as well should they have them.

Action 2.2:

  • The SENY Chair will suggest to committee chairs on what’s important to report to the body (what’s new, what actionable, etc.), consider preparing your reports prior to the event to help keep them on track as well as provide clarity.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED]  See Action 2.1 above.

Action 2.3:

  • Beginning in 2016, we will be adding a service position to SENY titled “Spiritual Timekeeper” for each assembly to help address time management concerns.  This will be a new non-voting appointed position by the Area Chair and this position will work with the Chair to help keep our meeting on track.  Our Area Chair has committed to doing a better job to both communicating time needed for topics of discussion at each meeting as well as doing a better job of managing time in the event itself.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] Starting with the February 6, 2016 Area Assembly, our Area Chair appointed a new service position, Spiritual Timekeeper.  This trusted servant was there to help keep us on track and to help us all remember that "part of sharing is sharing time."  This trusted servant was also asked to attend all Area Committee meetings to provide the same service.  It has certainly been a wonderful addition to our process.

Comments from Members:  “Years ago we stated that these assemblies should be handicapped accessible.  Now we use schools that aren’t really accessible.  We need to get back to having the assemblies in places that are handicapped accessible again.”

Action 2.4:

  • SENY agrees with this completely and will review the Assembly Planning Toolkit to ensure it contains wording that reinforces this need.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] On January 30, 2016, our Area Chair revised and re-distributed to ALL County DCMCs, the SENY Assembly Event Planning Toolkit that added verbiage regarding member accessibility needs as outlined above. Additionally, on June 24, 2016, a link to a new revision of the Toolkit (adding the suggestion that all Counties execute an actual site visit to ensure our member's needs are met was added) was sent to the Alternate Delegate for distribution to the DCMCs.

Comments from Members: “Scheduling conflict can be challenging.  On the same day as this assembly, is the Hispanic Convention.  Next Saturday there are quite a few activities planned.  Can we work harder at spreading those events out?”

Action 2.5:

  • SENY feels scheduling is always a concern and we feel like we do a good job on scheduling our events to the best of our ability.  There will always be conflicts due the wide variety of membership and their participation in other things. The Area Chair will recommend to the Agenda Chair SENY does not list non-SENY events on its website if they fall on the same date as a SENY event.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] On March 8, 2016, our Area Chair communicated this action item to the Agenda Chair and has received confirmation back from her that she will do this moving forward.

Comments from Members:  “I wish there was more access for people from the Spanish Speaking groups.  Maybe it is because the district is not attending the Hispanic Groups.  The community is not being informed.  Involvement of more ethnic groups, other nationalities.  There needs to be more unity and information so that more participation.”

Action 2.6:

  • Our Area registrar is working with Hispanic members of the Area to do a better job of translating minutes from our meetings for distribution.  We will be working to develop a strategy to do a better job of translating our email communications for our Spanish-speaking membership.  Our Registrar is also changing our database schema to incorporate language preference to better accommodate linguistics needs.
     
  • Lead: Registrar
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED/ONGOING]

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Question No. 3: New Members (What do we do to help them?)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

SENY is aware of the need to welcome and educate members new to general service. There are orientations for new GSRs at each area assembly and orientations for new DCMs at each area committee meeting. New trusted servants are given info packets that include the SENY handbook and related service material. 

To strengthen that process and help eliminate inconsistencies in presentations, SENY will develop an outline of what should be covered to systematize the orientations and help those new better see the role they play in the larger service structure. SENY will increase and improve service sponsorship announcements. SENY will update the area handbook and improve access to online resources. The new area registrar is implanting an easier registration process for new members.

Comments from Members: “We encourage young people in our group.  And we need to let the young people come in and do service and let the older people move aside.”

Action 3.1:

  • SENY is committed in doing a better job in engaging young people in A.A. in the general service structure and will continue to take actions towards connecting the two groups together.
     
  • Lead: Chair / Alternate Delegate
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED/ON-GOING] Our Alternate Delegate is SENY’s liaison to the YPAA community, and our Area Chair has attended various YPAA committee meetings and recently facilitated a group inventory for the upcoming 2016 EACYPAA Convention Host Committee.  Both of these officers spoke at the recent EACYPAA convention on various topics, but certainly shared the message of "welcome" and responsibility of YPAAs involvement in the general service structure, as we believe they are the future of A.A. We’re open to whatever steps can be taken to engage them in more meaningful ways.  This rotation has three (3) trusted servants who were appointed to Area Committee Chair positions who came from YPAA service.

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Question No. 4 - Membership (Do they stay, participate, pull their weight?)

GENERAL RESPONSE (from SENY):

There will always be a proportion of people that don’t “pull their weight”, no matter what we do or try. Focusing on this population – relatively small in our view – is an unconstructive distraction. In the spirit of serenely accepting the things we can’t change, and courageously changing the things we can, we believe the Area’s focus should be on fearlessly and thoroughly searching for ways to make service more accessible, meaningful, and impactful. This, in turn, will inspire greater participation, engagement, and “attraction”. To this end, there are several next-actions we can take right away, many of which are spread out throughout the other sections of this inventory. Just as importantly though, we can all benefit from persistently orienting ourselves to evaluate our Area through this lens of opportunity. In doing so, guides to our collective spiritual progress, rather than perfection, will be revealed.

Comments from Members: “Maybe there is a way to have members feel they are more participating in something active.  We are facing a problem with those who want to become GSR’s, but their group can’t afford it and they can’t afford it privately.”

Action 4.1:

  • Area Officers have been attending and will continue to attend various County/District events to do a better job of connecting the area to county (Share-A-Days, Breakfasts, Workshops, etc.).  One way SENY is considering to better involve GSRs more is to figure out way to engage them in execution of Area events.  Having more GSRs lead Area workshops at assemblies is one thing SENY is looking at.  SENY believes involving the GSR is vital to increased engagement and is open to any suggestions members of SENY may have.  SENY is encouraging Counties to develop transportation options that will assist in getting GSRs to Area events (carpools, buses, travel reimbursements in their budgets, etc.).
     
  • Lead: Chair 
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] See Action 1.3.  Additionally, our Area Chair asked our Alternate Delegate to encourage DCMCs at their Service Participation meeting on Thursday, March 10, 2016 to consider developing transportation options & reimbursements (if they don't already have them in place) to make it easy for GSRs to attend Area Assemblies.

Comments from Members:  “We need other unity experiences to promote unity in the Area, maybe an area breakfast instead of just a convention once for the year.”

Action 4.2:

  • SENY is researching development of a new event with a working title of ALL COUNTY WORKSHOP that would be similar to something like “Taking SENY on the Road.”  An event of this nature would be an opportunity to cluster all Districts in a County together for a service workshop in various counties that we hope would help in engaging membership in all new ways to promote more unity and more engagement.
     
  • Lead: Chair / Alternate Delegate / Delegate
  • Action Taken: [IN PROGRESS] Our Alternate Delegate has taken the lead on this action item and has secured tow (2) location for SENY hosted service workshops in two Counties for 2016.  On March 7, 2016 he approached the Area Committee for funding of $500 for the first of the two and it was approved.  The first workshop will be May 14, 2016 from 12:00pm-4:30pm at Asbury Crestwood United Methodist, 167 Scarsdale Rd., Tuckahoe, NY 10707.

Comments from Members: “10% of the people do 90% of the work.  Sponsorship is what helps us throughout.  Group Elders also help to guide newcomers.  Being told “you are going to do this.”

Action 4.3:

  • SENY is committed to doing a better job on highlighting the importance of service sponsorship.  The Area is looking at things like adding a visual indicator to name badges at Area Assemblies identifying those who are interested in BEING a service sponsor to help easily identify them to those NEEDING a service sponsor.  SENY is also considering developing an “Assembly Buddy” program, much like Delegates have “Conference Buddies” at the General Service Conference.  
  • Lead: Chair / Service Sponsorship Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] Our Service Sponsorship Chair will launch the "Assembly Buddies" program where anyone who is needing a service sponsor and someone to help guide them through the assembly process at the April 9th, 2016 Assembly.  For more information, click on the link above to email our Service Sponsorship Chair if you would like more information prior to that date.

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Question No. 5 - The Assembly (What is our meeting all about?)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

“The purpose of our organization is to serve the needs of the AA groups within its geographical area and to function as a constituent part of the AA General Services Conference of the United States and Canada... and function within the guidelines and spirit of, the AA Twelve Concepts for World Service, the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous…”(Service Handbook and Articles of Association and By-Laws, Pg. 43: Article II.)

  • To inform/update the members of the Assembly (South Eastern New York Area Committee and Assembly of Alcoholics Anonymous –SENY Area 49), GSR’s, DCM’s, MDCM’s, Standing/Ad Hog Committee Chairs/ members and Area Officers on matters/concerns of Area 49, the General Services Office, AAWS/Grapevine, and the General Services Conference.
     
  • A forum for/to Facilitate and encourage the sharing/exchange of information and ideas (by GSRs, Groups, Counties and the Hispanic Districts) regarding, matters/concerns, events and activities throughout the Area.
     
  • To serve as repository of general information, experience and historic information of the Area available at Assemblies to its members by its members.

Comments from Members:  “Same 4 or 5 people speak at the Assemblies and at the Committee meetings.  Sometimes that is intimidating for the newcomer.  Space needs to be created to allow the newcomer to explore and learn.  Also, are we being unifying or divisive?”

Action 5.1:

  • Area Officers have been attending and will continue to attend various County/District events to do a better job of connecting the area to county (Share-A-Days, Breakfasts, Workshops, etc.).  One way SENY is considering to better involve GSRs more is to figure out way to engage them in execution of Area events.  Having more GSRs lead Area workshops at assemblies is one thing SENY is looking at.  SENY believes involving the GSR is vital to increased engagement and is open to any suggestions members of SENY may have.  SENY is encouraging Counties to develop transportation options that will assist in getting GSRs to Area events (carpools, buses, travel reimbursements in their budgets, etc.).
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] See Action 1.3 & 4.1 above

Comments from Members:  “More information before hand would be helpful.  I am getting more out of this than I did out of the hour this morning on the presentation.  CONSIDERING ADDING BACK INTO THE AGENDA A GSR Q&A ON A SPECIFIC TOPIC (GENERAL SERVICE CONFERENCE RELATED, ETC.)”

Action 5.2:

  • Starting in 2016, SENY is going to add a component to all Area assemblies (time restraints permitting) for a “GSR Q&A Session” allowing GSR’s the opportunity to ask questions that are on their mind about any topic that will help them with their service position.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] On February 6, 2016 in the Bronx, our Area Chair added the "GSR Forum Q&A" to the agenda and there was time for three (3) GSR's to come to the mic and share some questions they have.  There was some wonderful discussion between the GSR's and we had many GSRs express this was the most valuable part of the Assembly for them.  Additionally, we added the same type of sharing session to Area Committee meeting agenda at the March 7, 2016 committee meeting for DCMs to allow them the same opportunity.

Comments from Members:  “Muddling over Robert’s rules of Order, there should be a cheat sheet of them so that we can move forward with substantive discussion instead of process discussion.”

Action 5.3:

  • Area Chair has created a Robert’s Rules “Cheat Sheet” and will begin distributing it at all Area Committee meetings and Assemblies (starting 02/6/16) for membership.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] Our Area Chair created a Robert's Rules Cheat Sheet and passed it out at the January 6, 2016 at the Area Committee meeting.  We have also asked our Recording Secretary to start printing copies of it and make it available at all future assemblies and committee meetings effective April 9, 2016 at the Pre-Conference Assembly.  Download your copy today.

Comments from Members: “Pay an impartial person that will keep personalities in check.  The service manual needs an overhaul.”

Action 5.4:

  • Our Area Chair will work on doing a better job of using Robert’s Rules POINT OF ORDER to help principles prevail over personalities.  Regarding, the Ad Hoc Publications Review will be working in 2016 to revise the SENY Service Handbook and will be presenting it to the Committee for the review/approval no later than November 2016.
  • Lead: Chair / Chair, Ad Hoc Publications Review Committee
  • Action Taken:  [COMPLETED/ON-GOING] Our Area Chair has received commitments from the Ad Hoc Publications review committee that they will have a draft of the revised SENY Handbook ready for the committee to review so that edits can be made and have the final copy before the December 2016 committee meeting.

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Question No. 6 - Officers (How is our leadership?)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

SENY is committed to providing the best leadership possible in accordance with Concept IX.  One of the actions it will be taking is to ensure that job descriptions and Area by laws are reflective of the current needs of the Area and its members. 

Action 6.1:

  • Our Area Chair will appoint a task force to include our Delegate, Alternate Delegate, and at least one other trusted servant who have experience in this area to review our leaders’ job descriptions and our bylaws to identify any changes that need to be made to better meet the needs of Area 49.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [IN PROGRESS] 

Comments from Members:  “I heard some great ideas.  I think the elected officials are stretched thin.  A parliamentarian would be very helpful.  More time limits might help real stuff back in.  Maybe an elected position of liaison for translation.”

Action 6.2:

  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] See General Response – Question 2 and all actions taken under it. Regarding the election of a liaison for translation - our Area Chair is continuing conversations with the Hispanic Districts DCMC and working with various other members of the Hispanic community to help identify additional verbal and written translation services from within their community FOR their community.

Comments from Members: “I find the leadership helpful well informed and prepared. Every once in a while, time management needs to be worked on.”

Action 6.3:

  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] See General Response – Question 2 and all actions taken under it.

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Question No. 7 - Committees and Other Service Functions (What else do we do?)

GENERAL RESPONSE (from SENY):

Committee work is a strong part of the foundation to the work we do at the Area level.  Our goal is to keep our committees strong and we are always willing to look at their structure (as well as their goals and objectives) to ensure we are meeting our primary purpose of “serving groups in our geographical region.”

Comments from Members:  “Very often is that we become a committee of one.  Get GSR’s excited by having a project for them to jump on board with this.  If we spend more time focusing on the committees and what they do, GSR’s might be more enthused about the projects.”

Action 7.1:

  • We are rethinking what is being done at Area assemblies what & how information is being reported at assemblies, as well as who are the most important people to provide reports.  We will start including reporting opportunities from Standing Committee Chairs and DCMCs at all assemblies.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED] Starting with the February 6, 2016 Assembly, we included reports from both Area Standing Committee as well as DCMCs reporting on highlights from their Counties.  We will continue this format for all future assemblies.

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Question No. 8 - Communication (If this isn’t working…)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

SENY is aware that there are areas it can do a better job in its communications.

Action 8.1:

  • As a result of splintered efforts on this topic, the Area Chair is appointing a task force to develop an Area Communications Strategy that will cover all forms of communication SENY will use (e.g. print, email, website, etc).  This task force will include the Area Registrar, Website Chair, LINK Committee members, Ad Hoc Publications Review Committee and the Area Chair.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [IN PROGRESS] 

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Question No. 9 - Carrying the Message (What more can we do?)

GENERAL RESPONSE:

SENY’s role is less frontlines than that of the multiple local intergroup offices spread throughout the area. There are ample opportunities for the area’s standing committees to work closely with all the local Intergroups to amplify and strengthen the work around corrections, public information, cooperation with the professional community, and treatment facilities to ensure that no Twelfth Step call goes unanswered.

SENY has begun a review of its efforts and responsibilities in these different service areas to minimize duplication of efforts and maximize service efforts with respect to the Intergroups throughout Area 49.

Comments from Members: “What can SENY do to help groups that need insurance and may have to close because of that?”

Action 9.1: 

  • SENY will take steps to develop better relationships with area Intergroups.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [COMPLETED - ON-GOING] On Sunday, January 17, 2016, various trusted servants from both SENY and NY Intergroup met for the first time to begin conversation about work being done by both service entities specifically around Corrections, Treatment Facilities, PI & CPC.  It was a productive meeting and there will be additional meetings in the coming months to continue the conversation on these service efforts, as well as how we can bring other local area Intergroups into the conversation.

Action 9.2:

  • While SENY is not currently in a position to be able to do anything to help groups, districts or counties who are in need of insurance, this request has revealed a need for some FAQ information, which we’ll ask the Web Chair to consider incorporating into the website how they see fit.
     
  • Lead: Chair
  • Action Taken: [IN PROGRESS]