HISTORY OF GREATER LOS ANGELES AREA OF NA
Well before there were areas there were just meetings.
There were a few meeting in the Los Angeles Area in the 70ís. One meeting was at Stella Mara a Women Recovery Home on Adams and Figueroa, which folded after 2 years. There was a also location called Crenshaw House located at 2335 Crenshaw that Bob B. took out a lease in 1973 that was a Sober living and had a Saturday night meeting and Step study, this meeting didnít last long. It was also used as a service office for Narcotics Anonymous.
The oldest area of NA in Southern California is the San Fernando, second area is Bay Cities and the 3rd area is Los Angeles/San Gabriel Valley (LA/SGV) was formed sometime around 1975-76.
Before there were regions there were areas, then came the Southern California Region (SCR) that was formed around 1978-79.
For sometime the Friday night meeting at the House of Uhuru was the only meeting in South Central Los Angeles.
There were a few members who started meetings in LA. "Shorty" (aka Roy Childs) was responsible for starting many meetings it was his baby to get meetings started. Meetings were generally started by one person going into the facility and talking to the administrator, establishing rent and just opening the meeting and sit there and hope and wait for someone to show up. At that time one person was the attraction for NA and through word of mouth attendance would go up.
At that time around 86-87 most of the addicts in South Central attended a NA meeting on the Westside, or the House of Uhuru. There were many addicts in Alcoholics Anonymous who attended 9604 or the Crenshaw Alano Club. It was known that there were addicts dying in South Central because they could not identify as alcoholics and there was the only one meeting in Los Angeles. During this time Los Angeles area base members usually had a lot of commitments at this time to keep the meetings going. The first Home group meeting was started at Doctors Hospital on 22nd & Western, and the Jim Gillian meeting was patterned after this meeting. We talked more, change takes time and LA/SGV was constantly adding Los Angeles meetings, we needed to have our needs met and were getting more exposure in Narcotics Anonymous.
By 1988 there was about 18 meetings in the LA area, even before there was conscience thought about LA becoming an area. There were regional guidelines to follow to become an area. One of the requirements to become an area was that was there has to be a meeting for an addict to go to 7 days a week. By 1988 there were several meetings a day of NA in Los Angeles
The LA/SGV Area meeting was held at Impact in Pasadena which was also quite a distance for addicts from South Central to travel. There was a lot of car pooling during this time, and we also attended the functions the area would give. South Central Los Angeles would also show up for Regional functions and there stared to be some issues that became apparent.
One was that there were never any speakers at the NA functions from South Central LA and one reason was that our members did not meet the clean time requirements and those that did, did not have a tape to be considered to be a speaker, and since so many addicts from other areas felt that it was too dangerous to travel to South Central LA to attend meetings, many of our speakers had never been heard outside of the area. We had some members with time who had never spoken at any conventions or functions, and therefore never had a tape to submit for consideration.
Another issue was that the San Gabriel Valley NA had older and more meetings than were in South Central and we would often in the minority on any voting issues that came up, especially with entertainment. Most of the functions were held at the Glendale Armory, where there were cultural overtones and South Central really didn't want to ride all the way to Glendale for a dance. Distance and time was a big factor, but Los Angeles didn't have a location large enough to accommodate the LA/SGV area.
Around 89 or 90 a group of addicts including, Guy W.; Shorty; Dawud; Tyrone; Tony Mac; Cheryl B. and a few more addicts started meeting informally and unofficially and having discussions about going to the region for advise and guidance on how to become a area. They would talk after The Sunday Morning Circle Meeting at Jim Gillian Park. There were really no clear cut answers that came out the Regional meeting, and discussions about splitting died out.
During this time in October 1990, in the spirit of unity, LA/SGV had a Unity Day at Kedren Mental Health Center at 4211 Avalon. It was workshops; dinner; speaker and dance. This event was packed, no one was turned away and many of the homeless were fed that day. Because there were so many people, again it became apparent that the area had grown. One of the workshops at that Unity Day dealt with prejudices in NA and many issues came out. One of the things that came out of this Learning day was that a member from the Los Angeles area was a speaker at the World Conference and spoke on Prejudices in Narcotics Anonymous.
LA/SGV had 2 service bodies at that time Entertainment and H&I. Entertainment had their sub committee meetings in SGV and H&I met at 1755 W. 52nd Street. Because of the distance involved rarely did people from LA support the Entertainment Sub committee and vice versa. No one wanted to travel this distance every month for service. Both committees suffered, and it was felt that entertainment needs were not being met and H&I suffered because some addicts did not hear the message of recovery because there was no one to take all the panels.
In 1991 it was becoming apparent that the LA/SGV area had actually become too big and there was not a lot of support on either side. Both sides of the area agreed that it was mutually beneficial to better serve the addict by splitting up the area.
In the summer of 1991 an Adhoc was formed with addicts from San Gabriel and Los Angeles to determine if the split was feasible and the purpose was that the area had become too big and the split would help the group carry the message better. At this one meeting at Impact everyone was in agreement that the area needed to split up. At the next Regional meeting in August 1991 Raymond M. who was the area ASR informed the region that the area had now split up into Greater Los Angeles Area (GLAA) and San Gabriel Area.
The first area meeting of the newly formed Greater Los Angeles Area was held at 4920 S. Avalon in August or September 1991. Our first area guidelines were written using LA/SGV guidelines it was decided at this time to establish a prudent reserve of $4000 for the area.
Now, GLAA was in a dilemma we wanted to have a function but we didnít have any money. A few addicts found a location which was the Downtown Holiday Inn at Olympic and Pico, which was centrally located and close to the freeways. They found out the cost and everything that they needed to put on the function. So since we didnít have a prudent reserve, some addicts made a commitment to donate money for this function, and that is how we had our first function. We wanted to follow the traditions about being fully self-supporting, but few objected to this and this is how our first function was financed. An addict could drop $200 in the basket and it wouldnít be a violation of traditions. This is the way we financed our first few functions, and the purpose of the function was to help raise money for our prudent reserve.
November 1991, the first function was a success; the room wasnít big enough to handle all the addicts from all over the region. It was a 2 speaker meeting, Shorty was one speaker and we flew in a Carmelita from back east. We paid for the event, and started establishing our prudent reserve and we were on our way.
In December 1991 We had our first Christmas marathon that year, at 1755 W. 52nd Street and since we wanted our speakers to have exposure we started taping speakers, so they would have their own tapes to submit. We were able to make our prudent reserve with this event and so we planned a New Years function.
We had a New Year function that year at the Mayflower Ballroom on 54th and Main and it was a success.
We were the 1st area to bring in people from other cities to speak. We became known for our functions and it was overwhelming to see the support from other areas that we received.
We were one of the first areas to have meeting, dinner and dance
We were one of the first areas to have live entertainment at our functions.
We started having functions in other areas to help raise money and carry the message. One of our first functions out the area was on the West side at the Culver Memorial Center. Taking functions out of the area also allowed other members of NA to hear GLAA speakers.
We went to the area with our functions, then to the region to have them put the event on the calendar and we started being of service on Regional committees.
Dawud was instrumental in promoting our area to others and we decided to have a T-shirt with a lasting image. He brought in a kente cloth that was adopted along with a mug and at the next Regional convention, the Entertainment Committee attended and picked a date a the whole committee wore them and it was nice. On Sunday, at Regional merchandise the rest of the t-shirts sold out in the first hour and we had to take orders.
In 1994 our area newsletter the Heartbeat was resurrected and was going out all over the country.
In 1995 the Area meeting moved to MJB 11152 S. Main where it is now.
In 1997 Cheryl B. and a few members of GLAA who had been of service on the Regional Convention Committee came to the area with the idea of hosting our own area convention. We had our first area convention in September 1999 and it was a very successful event, and people are still talking about it
In 1999 the Dopebusters Meeting gave itís first marathon downtown on Skid Row
In December 2004, the first openly gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual recovery group in the Greater Los Angeles Area was founded -- the Clean But Not Straight Group.
Our area continues to grow. We now have more that 80 meetings in our area, including Spanish speaking meetings.
We have and have had GLAA members on every level of service from the group to the world and recovery is alive and well in Greater Los Angeles