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The Bill W Plant

09 Nov The Bill W Plant

If you are in recovery, you may have heard of, or seen a certain little green plant making its way around the rooms of your twelve step program. Maybe you have seen a little plant being given as a gift at a sobriety anniversary. Maybe your sponsor has one, or your sponsor’s sponsor. Maybe you even have one, and have shared it with your sponsors.

When I arrived in the community thirteen years ago, I didn’t notice or see any of these plants. Six years ago I first saw one given away at a 12 Step social function. This little plant then began to show up, in my awareness, here and there, being passed from member to member, or given as a gift to celebrate an anniversary cake. When I met my husband, he had a small struggling plant that his sponsor had given him.

I assumed the care of this little plant with delight, and began propagating it. Over the next couple of years, I had nurtured 10 healthy plants. These plants love and thrive on attention, just like most people in recovery! My intention was to have this little green plant in each of the 8 private bedrooms of A Home Away Retreat. Below is a copy of the card placed beside each flourishing symbol of recovery.

The Bill W. Plant

Also known as Swedish Ivy, the plant in your bedroom comes with a great story to share. That is what recovery is all about, one alcoholic sharing with another.

Bill W. passed away on January 24, 1971 in Miami, Florida. When his wife, Lois, returned to their home in New York, now known as Stepping Stones, she brought home the plant that had been in Bill’s Florida hospital room. Lois cared for the plant until the mid 1980’s, when she passed it on to Harriet Sevarino, beloved cook and companion of Bill and Lois for 35 years. Harriet passed the plant on to Michael M., a member of AA from Atlanta, Georgia. Lois asked Michael to pass it on to members of AA in Bill’s memory. Michael did just that, sharing cuttings and offshoots of this plant with AA members all around the world.

The plant in your room comes from a slender shoot that John D. brought from Ontario, a descendent of the original. The plant was passed on to John by Dave P. in 2005. Through tender care and propagation of cuttings, this plant is here today for you to care for and enjoy. It loves sun, and likes to dry out completely between waterings.

If you like, please take a small cutting home with you, share it with your new friends in recovery, and pass it on too. Cuttings root easily in water. Like the fellowship, when a piece of the plant is passed on, the plant grows stronger, and with care, and sharing, it spreads to homes and communities around the world.

I hope that one day every member who wants a plant shall have one.

By Jane Derry

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