INSTALLATION AND LISTING OF THE H.A. TELEPHONE
For the public to make contact with local chapters in each city, every H.A. group should have its own telephone. It is suggested that the service be private and that the phone be in a private location, inaccessible to anyone but a designed H.A. member. The chapter should decide at a business meeting whether they want an individual to get the phone in his or her own name (as an unlisted number), or whether they want to get the phone in the name of Homosexuals Anonymous (which means they will be charged the business rate).
If the chapter decides to take a number in the name of H.A., one of the officers, most likely the treasurer, should call the telephone company and talk with a service representative. It is very important to tell them that you wish to have the telephone number listed in the telephone book but you do not want the address listed. Explain that this is a support group for individuals who need the assurance of anonymity and that publishing the location of the telephone is a breach of one of the guidelines of H.A. You may give Alcoholics Anonymous as an example—A.A. does not have any location published in the telephone directory.
Is there any hesitation on the part of the telephone company to give service to your chapter, contact H.A.F.S. and an official letter acknowledging both the chapter and the person(s) organizing it will be sent to the telephone company.
It is best to have the telephone in a location where it can be 1) personally answered at any time or 2) automatically answered by having a telephone answering machine connected to the phone line or using voice mail. Daily checking of these messages is imperative, since it may take a great deal of courage for a potential H.A. member to make such a call. When calls go unanswered, we do a disservice to ourselves, to the caller, and to Christ, whose name is central to our 14 Step program.
It is most important to determine that no matter how you do it, you will do it right! These calls represent a sacred trust. It is vital that you make your chapter as accessible as possible to the people who need H.A.’s help. Here are some suggestions:
Choose some with a friendly, pleasing voice to record the message for your answering machine. Some voices sound too high-pitched, too businesslike, or indistinct on tape.
Plan the message carefully and prayerfully. That 30 seconds could make the difference for someone’s whole future. A suggested message might be: “Thank you for calling Homosexuals Anonymous, a fellowship of men and women seeking freedom from homosexuality. There is no one here to answer the phone at present but someone will be here to speak to you in person on (day) between (time) and (time). If that is not possible for you, please leave your first name and telephone number at the sound of the tone. We will help you in any way we can. We will be discreet and your confidentiality will be respected. God bless you in your struggles.”
Check daily for calls. Return those calls promptly, but only after prayer and thoughtful reflection on your part. Unanswered calls days on end are discouraging for someone taking that first courageous step. Prepare for crank calls. When they come, thank the Lord that He counts you worthy to suffer for Him (Philippians 1:29). If you hear other voices and laughter in the background, you know the call is a joke and need not be answered.
Be willing to listen if the other person seems to need to talk, but don’t err in the other direction by having a long conversation that gets nowhere. Don’t get caught up in controversy. It’s not your place to convince someone he or she needs help. Going over the same ground more than once is not helpful and may become counterproductive.
Normally, it is best not to offer to meet people before they have attended at least one H.A. meeting. The meeting has the safety of numbers and the wisdom of multiple counselors.
At the meeting it is helpful to introduce yourself as the one who talked with him or her on the phone. That gives assurance that confidences are kept within the group.
(Taken from the "HOMOSEXUALS ANONYMOUS POLICY AND ADVISORY MANUAL")