I would like to start a meeting in the Tampa area. I have been to meetings in Pinellas Park on Friday evenings and enjoyed them. I also have read the book by Nicolaus and as a physician I agree with many things he has said. It was also nice to read about the work of one of my psychiatry professors at UCSD School of Medicine, Dr. Mark Schuckit.
Howver, driving to Pinellas is not an option for me any more. I started working Friday evenings. I would be willing to search for a meeting place for starting a meeting here in Tampa. There are at least five people who would like to come to the meetings initially. Also, I want to go to the treatment centers (12-step based) to ask them if they would be willing to pass information to the people about LifeRing. I would need information about how to start a meeting and also any supplies that you find necessary for the start. If I find a place for rent, could I count on you to help me out at least initially with it?Dear D.L.: I salute you on your initiative to start another LifeRing meeting in the Tampa Bay area. The area is certainly large enough to support more than the single meeting that now exists there, the Friday night group at Pinellas Park. To put it more strongly, a city of that size needs to have a multiplicity of LifeRing meetings in order for the LifeRing concept to become established and to replicate. Many people in recovery, particularly in early days, want and need more support than one meeting a week. LifeRing may not appear like a viable support option to them until they have three or more LifeRing meetings per week within driving range. Treatment professionals who do referrals see it the same way. We've heard it time after time: I can't be referring clients to a group that has only one meeting. (Of course, there would be more meetings if they made more referrals; but that's another topic.) And so, a LifeRing meeting that's the only one of its kind in an area leads a difficult existence, and it takes extraordinary dedication, tenacity and hard work on the part of its core group regulars to keep it alive in the long haul. When there are more meetings, all of them benefit and all of them can prosper.
That being said, the topic is how to proceed. Your best guide is to read the book, "How Was Your Week," available from LifeRing Press. A key chapter is available free online here. You should definitely approach the treatment centers, no matter how 12-step they are, and ask for meeting space, bulletin board space, and referrals. Some of our oldest and best meetings are at 12-step treatment centers; they need us there. If you are able to get meeting space at a treatment center, there is rarely any rent to pay, as you are providing a service to the clients. The LifeRing Service Center does not have the resources to subsidize room rentals for meetings, even at the beginning. What the Service Center can and will do is to send you brochures and other literature to help you get started; and as soon as you have a meeting room and a time that can be posted on the online meeting list, then we can send you display copies of LifeRing Press books on invoice.
It is excellent that you know of a group of five or six people who are ready to attend the new meeting once it finds a home. It would be good if you could enroll all of them as a search committee to speed the process. Please also enroll yourself in the LifeRing convenor email list, and read and comment on this convenor blog. Break a leg!