Helping hands in service

Filled with Hope for Panel 61

Feb 12, 2021

As I write this, we’re in the “between holidays” period, that last week of the year. It’s always an unsettled time for me, balancing between the year that was and the year ahead. Al-Anon helps me stay centered, though – by studying the Steps, going to meetings, reading our literature, connecting with my Circle of Hope, doing service – and especially using the Slogans “One Day at a Time” and “First Things First.” Both of these slogans keep me grounded.

Eight years ago, before my Higher Power led me to rooms of Al-Anon, I had no firm footing. Steps were just another obstacle I had to climb to get through my day. But an untold number of folks had already found help, and some of them were there the day I reached my bottom. Some of them made sure the schedule was up to date, the doors were open, and literature was available. Others were there to ensure I found a welcoming group – Saturday Serenity Hour in Mohnton – and asked me to “Keep coming back.”

Less than four months later, the group needed a Group Rep and I was willing. During my four years as GR, I learned so much about myself and Al-Anon. There were times when the group thrived and times when it struggled. I found the same in my recovery. But I was never alone – my Circle of Hope had grown through service. I learned that Al-Anon isn’t just a me-program but a we-program. I remained willing and kept coming back.

My Circle of Hope was there to remind me that I only needed to be willing

When our district needed a new representative, I wrestled with the decision. Was I ready? My Circle of Hope was there, though, to remind me that I only needed to be willing and I was elected as DR for District 31, covering parts of Berks and Schuylkill Counties in the Southeast Sector.

As District Rep, I learned how to conduct a business meeting and began to understand what it means to be a link-of-service. I learned how important the district and the area were in ensuring that those still struggling with someone else’s drinking could find the help I found in the rooms of Al-Anon. I learned the importance of participation, group conscience, and unity. I learned how much we could accomplish together, especially when confronted with the pandemic in my third year as DR. Again, the slogans and the principles of the program became my bedrock.

As we begin the next panel, the future is still uncertain, but I am filled with hope. I’m excited to be part of a team with so much experience, willingness, and commitment. While no one knows what 2021 will bring, I know that “One Day at a Time” and “First Things First” will be where we start.

The future is still uncertain, but I am filled with hope.

As the Alternate Delegate, I’m already knee-deep in getting ready for our first AWSC meeting in February. We’ve already decided that this meeting will be virtual, and I’m preparing the registration system and website. 

I am hopeful that the worst of the pandemic will soon be behind us and that we will soon be able to meet face-to-face again. I’m looking forward to working with the event managers and staff at the Carlisle Comfort Suites, the Altoona Hampton Inn, and the Harrisburg Hilton to make our upcoming meetings safe and productive. Till then, I will be coordinating the events on Zoom.

I also look forward to working with and getting to know the group and district representatives across Pennsylvania. Watch for emails from me regarding upcoming meeting dates as we lay out our events over the coming three years. I especially look forward to working closely with Lori F., our new Delegate, assisting her as needed, and stepping up, if I must.

As I look ahead to 2021 and beyond, I am also filled with gratitude for all those who went before me in service, who made sure that Al-Anon was there for me when I needed it, and set the example for me in service. Following in the footsteps of our first Pennsylvania Assembly Alternate Delegate, Marge M., elected in 1961, to our most recent, Lori F., I know I have big shoes to fill. Please keep me in your prayers as I will keep you in mine.


Ralph H.

Alternate Delegate, Panel 61