Monday, July 13, 2015

 Women for Sobriety, Inc.
We all have something we can give.

I was twelve years old when Jean Kirkpatrick was developing Women for Sobriety.  I was still relatively normal.  I had to laugh at my husband just now because he said Jean was preparing for the future of the pre-teens already on the path of self-destruction.  There is some truth to that! When I was young, I had a fragile self-image and self-esteem, amplified by teasing and bullying from peers and my own brothers.  I just didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.  It would take 25 years for me to find my place in this world.  And that gave Jean 25 years to prepare a philosophy and recovery program that would help me find out who I was, what I believed in and what I wanted to accomplish with my life.

At 37 years old, I found Women for Sobriety online and printed out the statements.  This was the day I first experienced hope that maybe I could beat my addiction to alcohol.  Yes, the thirteen statements of acceptance seem too good to be true; yet, there were thousands of women who had embraced WFS across the world in face to face meetings and their lives were a magnificent testimony to the truth.  “Change your thoughts and you will change your world.”

At the time I found WFS, it was a small online group on Yahoo.  We moved to MSN groups and, through the generosity of FourCWoman, we found a new private home on the current WFS Online Forum.  The online forum has evolved from women posting and informally chatting for support, to a safe and secure place to share even more.  Official chats were started and the format closely resembled that of a face to face meeting.  The lives of women have become busier and more complicated as they assumed roles that were once held by men only.  Our needs changed and our time limited.  Going to a face to face that may be hours away was simply not practical.  The online chats became a bridge for them to cross; leaving behind a life of disorder and negativity and addiction and entering into a world of women bonded together in overcoming their addictions.

Any group that has as many members as we do needs moderators to manage the online community as a whole with everyone’s best interest forward.  Protecting newly sober women, respecting each other’s diverse views and providing 24/7 support in a safe and confidential environment gave birth to guidelines and the rights and responsibilities of the membership.  With permission from the Women for Sobriety organization, the online forum is able to use the WFS New Life Program to facilitate the needs of our sisterhood.

Certified Chat Leaders were established years ago to lead online meetings using the same format as a face to face meeting.  They help maintain a positive atmosphere and sometimes have to make tough decisions for the sake of the sisters as a whole.  I don’t remember exactly when I became a CCL but I have a feeling I might be one of the reasons we have rules about drinking while in the chatroom!  Yes, I confess, I was one that would have a bottle of wine and show up in a chat.  I wasn’t necessarily unruly, but I was funny and could derail a chat topic.  I wasn’t the only one, but the chats were not official formal meetings at the time.  Once I was actually sober, I realized how foolish and uncommitted I was at the time.  I wanted an easy way to control my drinking, not stop completely.  I thought the sisterhood held the key to me getting sober.  Silly me, I was the key and the choices I was making.  The sisterhood was simply willing to walk it with me and share with me how they used the program to have the life they always wanted.

I grew up in sobriety.  I achieved a few years and I applied to become a group moderator and CCL. And, over the years, I find I am the best possible woman I can be when I am involved on the forum on a regular basis.  I find that I grow more and discover more about myself every time I led a chat or chaired an online workshop or even write a long, long post.

In an article Jean wrote “Wanting to Belong” she said, “We really don’t know exactly where we fit………We don’t  seem to belong anywhere…..But how can we help ourselves through this period? (She is referring to early sobriety, but it can apply at any point in our recoveries.)  What can we do to combat these feelings of not belonging in any group or anywhere?”

Her first suggestion was:  “Stay with our new friends, because we will again feel comfortable in their presence.  Even though our first glow may be dimmed, or even gone, we will again like being with them.  We should try to spend far more time with our new friends than with our old friends through this period, for our new friends understand alcoholism and what we are going through. Very often old friends don’t and we are put on the defensive and then become resentful.”

I have been here since October, 1999 and sober since 2000.  And I know exactly where I fit, who I am, where I am going and how to get there.  CCL’s have done the work necessary to lead others to their New Lives.  It is the same work that is in front of all of you.  We did not do more or less than another sister fighting her addiction.  We are not better than others, we are the same.  We are not self-serving but servants.  We believe in the value of bonding as like-minded women with the same battles.  We carry our scars and reveal them, exposing ourselves in the hope that one of you will connect and find hope.  We don’t do these things because we are necessarily proud of our pasts; we do these things because our past led us here and our recovery journey has value.  We learned from the past, took what we needed and left the rest.  We plan for our futures without fear of failure.  We live in today using a philosophy that says I am capable and competent, caring and compassionate.  Becoming a CCL encompasses all four characteristics.  We do not believe we have it all figured out and that we have all the answers.  Rather, we are on the same “discovery of self” mission.  We became CCL’s to help others overcome their addictions.  But first we had to achieve some sobriety and have a full understanding of the WFS New Life Program so that we could be someone you can trust to lead you, to care for you, to hold your hand as you cross the bridge from addiction to recovery.

When technology began to get a foothold in the world and online groups began forming (AOL and Yahoo), Jean said it would never work.  Well, Jean, your faithful members have taken great care to build your program of recovery with the same integrity and commitment you yourself used in the seventies.  We carry your message under the guidelines of the WFS organization and promise to grow only in ways that are complimentary to the foundation you laid before us.  And, if I may say so myself, “It worked is working!”

We are currently reorganizing the forum by adding a calendar, pinning a list of all online CCL’s on each page, and soon recruiting new CCL’s.  The success of the Women for Sobriety organization depends strictly on the generosity of its membership and funds generated during the annual conference auction.  If there is no financial support then there may one day be no WFS.  In every face to face meeting a basket is passed around.  No announcement is made, it is simply there and women will drop in a couple dollars.  The Group Moderator sends the funds to headquarters.  If sisters donated $2.00 or $5.00 in a basket each week; why not passing a virtual one during a chat? You may see a popped up message asking that you consider making a donation during a chat.  You can do that by going to the WFS catalog site at  It is not easy to ask for money.  It is not easy to insert a pop up message in the middle of chat asking for donations.  No one likes having to ask; yet, we must.  I have met Becky Fenner, WFS’s Director, and I can tell you this, every single thing she does or acquires on behalf of WFS is because she loves this program and she embraces each and every one of us individually every chance she gets through phone calls, emails, the newsletter.  She has devoted her life to WFS.  I completely trust her with my financial contributions and that the donations are going where they are most needed to continue to maintain and grow the organization.

Yes, we are always asking for donations because we need them, you need them.  We are simply giving to ourselves.  And, I am going to ask for something else.  I am going to ask that you consider applying to become a Certified Chat Leader and, under the direction of a current chat leader, you will be mentored as you discover for yourself the joy of serving and connecting and offering hope to others.  The requirements are that you have a good understanding of the WFS philosophy:  that you have read Goodbye Hangovers, Hello Life and Turnabout, that you live by the WFS philosophy and apply the 13 statements of the New Life Program in your daily life.  You must have at least one year of continuous sobriety.  The current CCL’s are also available to mentor those with less than a year to help during chats as greeters.  Regular chatters know how formal chat meetings go and many are more than qualified to offer their leadership for an hour a week.

Maybe a financial contribution is simply not possible for you at this time and that is okay.  Some say time is money and nothing is free.  I say that some things you just can’t buy and that is the rewarding new lives we help foster comes from the willing hearts of the sisters that have gone before you.  There isn’t enough money in the world to pay for what I have been given, for what my husband and children have been given.  There are not enough words.  And right now we don’t have enough CCL’s or formal online chats to help carry the bonded sisterhood into their new lives.

Where were you 40 years ago?  Where are you now?  Where are you going?  Who do you want to become?  And what has made the biggest difference in your life once you found WFS?

I was 12, a future recovering alcoholic, with no direction.  I am almost 52; I still don’t know where I am going or who I will become, but I know I am going to get there sober and with full knowledge that WFS changed my life and will continue to inspire me to discover all the wonderful parts of myself.

Happy Birthday, Women for Sobriety.  Thank you for my New Life!

Love, Julie Orlando (Littlelamb18)
Certified Chat Leader & Certified Moderator

Some of the ways to give your time, talent or treasure….
«  Financial Donations:
«  Donate items for the annual auction and our EBay store (Ship items to WFS’s Office)
«  Offer a percentage of your creations that you may sell in an online store: for example, WFS is on EBay:
«  Select WFS as your charitable organization when you shop on Amazon through Amazon Smile:
«  Write for the Sobering Thoughts Newsletter and send it to
«  Ask your local library if they carry Jean’s books, Turnabout and Goodbye Hangovers, Hello Life… if they don’t, consider donating the books.
«  Sign up on and designate Women for Sobriety as your favorite non-profit charity.  (WFS gets $5 for every new person registering with!)

Email:   *   Tel215-536-8026   *   Fax:  215-538-9026   *

No comments:

Post a Comment