What is the Central Service Office?
Your intergroup or Central Service Office (CSO) is where the still-suffering alcoholic first calls or shows up for A.A. help.
Although local CSO operate independently of A.A.'s worldwide service structure, they are a vital part of the Fellowship. In most areas, any group that so wishes can belong to the local intergroup (CSO) , which is supported by contributions from its member groups. These contributions are purely voluntary.
In areas where it may not be practical to open a service office as such, groups sometimes set up joint committees for their Twelfth-Step efforts and activities, and use a carefully briefed central telephone answering service to take calls. Due to workload, a local service system of this type seems to work better if it is handled separately from the work of the area general service committee.
Most CSO function with only one or two paid workers (some have none) and so rely heavily on A.A. volunteers for help. Many A.A.s have found that serving at intergroup-answering calls from alcoholics and doing what else needs to be done-greatly enriches their sobriety and broadens their circle of friends.
What Does the CSO Do?
An Intergroup or CSO is a vital A.A. service office that represents a partnership among groups in a community - just as A.A. groups themselves are a partnership of individuals.
These offices are established to carry out common functions that are best handled by a centralized office, and it is usually maintained, supervised, and supported by these groups for their common interest. The office exists to aid the groups in carrying the A.A. message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Methods and goals vary from one area to another, but generally the intergroup or central office responsibility is to:
- Respond to phone or walk-in requests for help from alcoholics and, when appropriate, arrange for A.A. volunteers (listed with the office) to meet with and accompany them to an A.A. meeting.
- Maintain A.A. listings in local phone directories, handle phone and mail inquiries, and route them to local groups, thus distributing Twelfth-Step work on a geographical basis so that newcomers are assured of help.
- Distribute up-to-date meeting lists.
- Stock and sell A.A. literature.
- Serve as a communications center for participating groups-often issuing regular newsletters or bulletins to keep groups informed about one another.
- Arrange systems for groups to exchange speakers.
- Coordinate the efforts of intergroup committees.
- Sometimes provide information on treatment facilities, hospitals and halfway houses.
- Through the Public Information and Cooperation with Professional Community committees, handle requests for information about A.A. from local news media, arrange local radio or TV programs about A.A., and furnish speakers for schools and non-A.A. organizations.
- Cooperate with local, district and area committees.
- Some intergroups elect members to serve as area liaisons and welcome their participation in intergroup meetings
- Maintain communication and cooperation- but not affiliation-with the community and helping professionals in the field of alcoholism.
Copyright by AAWS as pamphlet P-16, "The AA Group...Where it all begins", reprinted with permission.