The History of Greater Minneapolis Intergroup

29th Annual Gratitude Night - Presented: April 14, 2012

   
Alcoholics Anonymous arrived in Minnesota during the Armistice Day Blizzard in November of 1940. Two men, AA members visiting from Chicago, made a 12th step call on a man by the name of Pat C. Shortly after, AA meetings started at 2218 First Avenue South in Minneapolis. It didn’t take long for those meetings to spawn other meetings at new locations, often in the homes of AA members. By the early sixties Alcoholics Anonymous had grown beyond Minneapolis, with groups meeting in the surrounding suburbs, including Richfield, Robbinsdale, Fridley and Columbia Heights.

Following this dramatic growth, Greater Minneapolis AA members saw an increasing need for 12th step services. They had a vision of an Intergroup Service Office that would function as a central hub, providing vital services such as phone answering, coordinating 12 step calls, and publishing a meeting directory.

The Minneapolis Intergroup Office you know today opened in September 1968 at 24 East Franklin Avenue. Since 1968 the office has moved several times. Many of our members may recall visiting the office at 6300 Walker Avenue in St. Louis Park, Intergroup’s home for 15 years. The office moved to its current location, 7204 West 27th Street in St Louis Park, on August 1, 2000.

Regardless of the location, the primary purpose of Minneapolis Intergroup has always been to provide AA 12-Step Services. Today, in 2012, a few of these vital services include:

  • Phone Answering, 24 hours a day, 365 days a Year: Sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous answer more than 20,000 phone calls a year from people looking for information about AA. Phone volunteers’ experience, strength and hope serve as a lifeline to new or potential AA members calling for help. Prison inmates can utilize this lifeline through the office’s toll free number.
  • Providing Up-to-date Internet and Printed Meeting Directories: Meeting information on our website, aaminneapolis.org, is updated weekly. This website is visited by professionals seeking information about AA as well as current members and those who think they might have a problem with alcohol. Weekly visits to the website total over 1500, that’s about 78,000 visits per year. Also, at least once a year, Minneapolis Intergroup publishes a printed When & Where meeting directory that is pocket-sized and lists over 1100 meetings in more than 500 locations. Ten thousand When & Where directories are distributed each year.
  • Making AA Literature Readily Available: Since 1968 Minneapolis Intergroup has sold tens of thousands of Big Books, AA Grapevine publications and other AA Conference-approved literature. Currently our office stocks Big Books in over 40 languages and AA pamphlets in more than 80 as we do our part in ‘one world’ AA. Literature purchases are a significant source of contributions that are used to pay the costs of providing vital services.
  • Publication of a Monthly Newsletter: In 1977, Intergroup began publishing a newsletter. Today, you may know this newsletter as the ‘MIRUS’ – which stands for Minneapolis Intergroup: Recovery, Unity and Service. Two thousand five hundred copies of the MIRUS are distributed monthly, making it an important vehicle for fostering communication within the Fellowship. MIRUS distribution is over 2000 copies per month to more than 140 cities in 32 states.
  • Carrying the AA Message to Non-AA Facilities: Intergroup’s Information Committee coordinates AA information talks to 29 non-AA facilities a month. In addition to sharing their personal AA experience, committee members share what AA is and isn’t with more than 7,000 people a year. Teen members serve on a committee devoted to carrying the AA message to Middle Schools and High Schools, reaching out to nearly 10,000 students in our community over the past 10 years. Pertinent AA literature is offered at no charge to the students.
  • Supporting the AA Orientation Meeting: Each Saturday morning, at 10 a.m., at Mizpah United Church of Christ in Hopkins, MN, Intergroup hosts an open speaker meeting with presentations on the Steps, Traditions and AA as whole. This meeting began in 1970.
  • Cooperation with the General Service Structure: For 16 years Minneapolis Intergroup has housed the Temporary Contact Desk as well as more recently acting as a main contact for the Correctional Facilities Contact Program. Intergroup supports member participation in these programs and other service activities coordinated by the Southern Minnesota Area 36 Assembly, our General Service Office, and 11 Metro Area Districts. Intergroup Board members serve as liaisons to Minneapolis Area Districts on a monthly basis.
 
How does Intergroup provide these 12 Step opportunities and others to the Greater Minneapolis Area? Volunteers are the heart of Minneapolis Intergroup. There are more than 500 AA members ready and willing to serve by answering the hotline, being contacted for 12th step calls, speaking at non-AA meetings and coordinating Intergroup sponsored events.

All across the greater Minneapolis Area, AA groups stay in touch with the Intergroup office by electing an Intergroup Representative. Intergroup Representatives act as a conduit between their group and Intergroup. The reps attend monthly meetings to hear updates on office activities, get their groups involved in 12-step opportunities, and carry their group’s voice on a variety of Intergroup matters.
Minneapolis Intergroup is governed by a 12 member Board of Directors, who are elected by Intergroup Representatives to three-year terms – with four directors rotating each year. Because of this level of commitment, our by-laws require that all AA members elected to the board have a minimum of 5 years of continuous sobriety. The Annual Meeting and Board elections are held the 4th Thursday in September. Each year, information about the elections is available in the MIRUS Newsletter. There is currently 184 years of combined sobriety serving on your Intergroup Board.

In keeping with the 8th tradition, the office also has paid special workers. This includes an Office Manager and Staff Assistants, all active members of our Fellowship with over 92 years of combined sobriety. The staff’s commitment to carrying the AA message ensures that the doors will be open at 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday.

We want to thank our Intergroup staff: Steve, Gail, Claudia and Terri for providing an atmosphere of service to our volunteers, callers and visitors.

No matter how you contribute your time and talent to Intergroup, you play a vital role in carrying AA’s message. The Intergroup office is self-supporting, operated by the members for the members. In keeping with this principle of self-support, Intergroup does not accept contributions from outside the AA Fellowship. 7th Tradition Contributions from AA groups and individual AA members, along with literature sales, provide the funds required so that your Intergroup Service Office can continue to provide vital services. When you purchase a Big Book at Intergroup you are buying it from yourself.

The vision of our founding members over 44 years ago is alive and well at Minneapolis Intergroup. Stop by the office soon and see how the original vision lives on, one day at a time. The early Board members could not have predicted we would play such a large role in our community. Our services are more in demand than ever. It’s the spirit of participation that makes this possible. In that spirit, let us not forget that at this very moment a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous is either standing by to answer our phone, or is now speaking to a member of the community who may have a drinking problem.

Thank you and enjoy our 29th Annual Gratitude Night!