The Telephone Answering Service is often the first point of contact for people who are becoming aware that they have been affected by another person's drinking and who are reaching out for help. A key message is that Al-Anon is always here and that we are always ready to listen.

A Telephone Answer Service (TAS) volunteer is an Al-Anon member with at least one year in the program. The service operates 7 days a week from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM. The shifts are from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM, and from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM.

When you start a shift, you call the Ottawa Al-Anon phone number, listen to any voicemail messages there may be, and then forward the Al-Anon number to your number. You also program the system with the time when your shift ends so that the forwarding of the Al-Anon calls to your phone ends automatically. If you have voicemail service, you will disable it for the duration of your shift. You will be given instructions on how to do all of this.

The call volume is not high. You may continue to do what you normally do around your house during this time. It is quite possible to have only one or two simple calls requesting information during a shift.

Occasionally a caller may talk about his/her situation. We listen. We do not suggest solutions to problems or give advice. We extend a hand of friendship and understanding. We may say how the program has helped us and how important meetings are to us.

A caller may simply want to know the date, time, and location of the Al-non meeting closest to him or her or may request that some literature be sent in the mail. A caller could be an Al-Anon member from out of town who feels a need for a meeting while away from home.

A caller may have questions about the program, and you may be called upon to talk about how the program has helped you to recover from the impact of someone else's drinking.

A caller may request that a member speak to an organization about Al-Anon. We maintain a speaker's list for this purpose, and you may advise the caller that the coordinator who keeps this list will be in contact with him or her.

If the caller is really looking for AA, we refer this person to the Ottawa AA phone number.

If the caller is francophone and is looking for a French-speaking meeting, we refer this person to the Gatineau Al-Anon phone number.

If the caller asks to meet you, you may choose or not choose to do so. The decision is yours. We suggest, however, that if you choose to meet a caller, you do so in a public place.

We NEVER give out the telephone number of another Al-Anon member. We NEVER leave a message on a caller's answering machine or voicemail.