GRATITUDE DINNER STORY By H. A. S.
In the manner of an old-fashioned church supper, with just a touch of lodge picnic thrown in to keep things from being too pious, the AA groups in three South Florida counties have found a delightful way to say thank you for their sobriety. For the past nine years, usually on Saturdays in November (Gratitude Month), the AAs in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties have been lining up for big helpings of ham, baked beans, potato salad and homemade cakes and, of course, flagons of hot coffee. And there isn’t a banquet manager or caterer within miles of these gratitude dinners. They are strictly do-it-yourself. The cooks, the servers and the busboys are all AAs, Al-Anons or Alateens. After the dishes are cleared away, there’s an AA meeting. Then, just before the Lord’s Prayer, they announce how much money has been raised by the dinner, and everybody goes home feeling good inside. How did the happy tradition start? In 1962, a handful of AAs in Palm Beach County were feeling extra-special grateful, and they wanted to express themselves in some substantial manner beyond saying thanks in their prayers. The first idea was to take up a collection and send the money to the AA General Service Office. In that way, they felt, their gratitude would be spread around the world. Then somebody topped off the discussion with the dinner idea. How does it work? Sometime in September, the dinner chairman calls his committee together to elect a co-chairman (who will be chairman next year) and to get things under way. Modest contributions ($10 to $25) are collected from the groups in the county. Tickets are printed, allocated and sold at varying prices (never more than $2.50). They go fast, and all ticket money goes into a sort of temporary escrow. All expenses are paid out of the collected funds, printing, rental of the hall, purchase of food and equipment. Meanwhile, the dinner committee has been divided into sub-committees to sell tickets, decorate the hall, cook, serve, act as busboys, wash dishes and clean up. Every penny from the sale of the tickets goes to GSO. The first Palm Beach County dinner produced $169.50; the next $325.00. In 1963, Broward County held its first Gratitude Dinner, and in 1965 Dade County got on the band-wagon. The total for the three 1970 dinners was $4,892.35; the grand total for all these dinners to date is $19,640.32. And it was brought in with no rattling of tin cups, no pleading, no browbeating. Instead, everybody has a great time. We in South Florida hope the rest of AA will borrow our Gratitude Dinners. Grapevine November 1971
For more info, contact
Gratitude Dinner Chairperson