The Story Behind The Wendells Raised Center AA Medallion

Posted by John Gall on

Have you ever wondered how the custom of handing out Raised Center AA medallions began?
The story behind this tradition is a story of innovation and strength of the recovery fellowship.

One of the brightest highlights in Wendell’s history is our role in the area of support for the millions of people worldwide who have fought and are still ghting the battle of addiction. In early 1973, Bill Westman, a recovering alcoholic wanted to do something to fortify the will of the groups and individuals he spoke with. Bill designed and had Wendell’s produce a coin bearing the two large A’s on one side of the medallion and the Serenity Prayer on the reverse. His advice to all was to “carry this in your pocket or purse and when temptation is great, reach into your pocket and feel the medallion and remember your struggle to get this far”. Thousands of the medallions were given to individuals and attendees of his Founders Group. Always thinking of his fellow members, Bill decided he wanted a design that would have individual meaning for

each person who carried one. He knew the medallion as originally designed would feel much like change in the pocket or purse so he changed the design by adding a raised center with the actual time the person had been sober.

The process of making the medallion with the raised center was labor intensive as each medal- lion had to have the raised center soldered onto the coin and the demand for the medallion was soon overwhelming. Bill worked with Wendell’s and developed the one piece, die struck circle/ triangle medallion with the anniversary in Roman numerals in the center raised section. When designing his new medallion, Bill used the phrase “To Thine Own Self Be True” as he felt every recovering person should make their journey to sobriety a personal responsibility. Bill used “The Man In The Glass” as a guideline for his own sobriety and felt if he could “look that man in

the face”, he would be successful in his journey. Bill chose to surround the circle/triangle with the wording “Recovery, Unity, Service” as they exemplify the meaning of one’s commitment to sobriety. The process of producing these medallions may have changed through the years but the commitment of the man who inspired them remains the same. We are aware that the medallion has been copied and although that is a form of attery, the intent and fellowship that goes into Wendell’s medallions can never be duplicated because they are inspired by a man who although struggling with his own addiction wanted to offer support to others.

Whether the medallion is our original antiqued bronze, or painted, or pure silver or gold, its meaning never changes, it is a symbol of strength and survival and is carried by millions throughout the world... this is the legacy of Wendell’s own Bill Westman and although Bill is enjoying a well deserved retirement, Wendell’s continues to furnish the recovering community with quality reminders of their will to succeed.

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