World Service Business Convention Report - 2007
I. Business Convention General Overview
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) held its sixth business convention on the weekend of June 1-3, 2007 at the Sheraton Ferncroft Resort Danvers in Danvers, Massachusetts. As in years past, the weekend was marked by the overwhelming gratitude and excitement of those present and a focus on carrying the message to the still-suffering food addict. Above all, it was a true testament to the commitment to FA service being done all over the world.
The weekend began with a Chapter Forum on Friday afternoon. About 200 members took advantage of the opportunity to discuss best practices for organizing and running chapters and intergroups. A Friday night dinner was followed by a speaker/discussion meeting for the entire group, during which one member shared her story, and then the meeting was open for sharing. Business sessions started on Saturday morning and continued through Sunday. And once again we kicked up our heels and danced into the night at the Saturday evening dinner dance.
II. Opening Session Remarks from WA-FSI Chair
FA-WSI Chair, Kesaya N., gave the following remarks at the opening session of the 2007 business convention:
Kesaya began by expressing her gratitude to the members of the Board; those whose hard work made the convention possible; World Service board members; Intergroup, and Chapter chairs and committee members; and Parliamentarian Michael Malamut. Highlights of her speech are below:
Through hearing the reports that will be given by the committee chairs you will understand much of the work the board has done this year. But I would like to begin by speaking of the board as a whole to highlight what we have done as a group and to talk about what we have learned. We want to be known by you. We want our work to be seen and understood, for we are your servants. This year, several issues drew our attention:
o Literature: As we proceeded with book preparation, writing, and editing, and as we undertook revision of one pamphlet, we discussed each step of the process as a board.
o Convention Preparation: We received a motion from eleven meetings that the convention adopt an AA pamphlet addressing medication as FA literature. The AA pamphlet states that AA has no opinion on medications. In accordance with the policies and procedures of the literature committee, which were adopted by the conference, we referred this matter to that committee. I asked representatives of those meetings that submitted the motion to meet with the board during this convention so that we can speak together directly. The Literature Committee will address this issue, and I will report to the next convention regarding the actions that have been taken. As you know, you, the conference, will directly address a motion designating an approval process for our policies and procedures and a motion to change the policies and procedures of the Traditions Committee.
o Web Design: Last year, initial steps were taken to redesign our website. We soon realized, however, that this is a massive project involving an assessment of all of the content and the architecture of the site. Given the amount of work involved in preparing the book and the fact that our website is adequate for now, we decided to set aside the project until we complete the book.
o Online Payment: Further research revealed that this is not as inexpensive as we hoped. We want to keep literature available for as low a cost as possible. We began to investigate possibilities, but we are having to move cautiously and slowly.
o Governance Documents: We turned to our governance documents frequently throughout the year, seeking answers to a wide range of questions. As will be discussed later, we had trouble finding or discerning answers that could guide us. We believe that we need to do much more work on our governance documents.
o Communication with the fellowship: We have outgrown our channels of communication, and we need to do more. This year, we developed an E-newsletter for people on the frontiers of FA (those without any meetings), and we leaned heavily on the quarterly report, using extra communication from the chair as an added option. We have reassessed the “Gratitude in Action” newsletter and hope to reinstate it in a broader format.
o Outside resources: We are a much more complex organization now, and we have needed to consult a lawyer and a parliamentarian.
o Insurance: Several on the board have expressed concern because members of the board are not protected by insurance. Such coverage is common – perhaps almost universal – for those who serve on non-profit and for-profit boards. We are investigating coverage.
At the request of many members and meetings, we have also researched the possibility of WSI offering coverage to groups. Increasing numbers of groups who seek meeting space are being told that they have to have liability insurance first. We have been advised by the insurance broker who works with AA world service that we would do well to follow the AA model. Because Intergroups are legally incorporated, it is more logical for them to buy the insurance needed by any of the groups that are registered with them.
Now that I have discussed some of what the board has done, I would like to briefly mention how we work. At our first meeting, I asked if the board would adopt a mission statement and a statement regarding our goals. The latter was actually more about our process, but I thought of it in terms of our goals, as well. Both statements were adopted unanimously.
World Service Board Mission Statement
As members of the World Service Board, we are motivated by our recognition of the deadliness of the disease of food addiction and the effectiveness of the FA program of recovery. We recognize that the strength of FA rests within and upon each individual’s recovery – including our own. Our mission is:
o To support FA recovery from food addiction at all levels of our organization
o To seek our collective understanding of God’s will so that we may wisely guide the growth and development of our fellowship.
World Service Board Statement of Goals
We are only as strong as our weakest link. Therefore, in all our discussions, decisions, and actions, we will ask two questions:
o How can we best carry a strong message of recovery to the newcomer?
o How can we further strengthen FA as a whole and thereby help to strengthen individual recovery?
The board met once per month on a telephone conference call and we were in frequent contact between times through email and phone calls. Committee chairs also met with their committees once a month or more. In addition, I established some ad hoc committees, on which various members of the board also served. We are glad to do all this, but this work has required a lot of us!
I would like to talk now about our work – the work that we are going to do together here. What is the heart of this work? The May 18 entry of the Twenty-Four Hour a Day book is helpful. It reminds us: “We are in FA for two main reasons: to keep abstinent ourselves and to help others keep abstinent.”
Abstinence and personal recovery must always take first priority for us. I remind us all to take care of ourselves. Be careful of food here. With so much stimulus, it is easy to lose our mindfulness and our attentiveness to our own food plans. All the food is abstinent here, but all abstinent food is not necessarily ours to eat. Get enough rest and make sure to have enough. No one should think of him or herself as the FA police, but let us be honest with one another. Some of us are meeting our sponsors for the first time. Let us be open to feedback from our sponsors and our friends regarding our weight.
Our work here – our goal – is to support the true work of FA: to offer help to other food addicts. The true work of FA happens when a sponsor talks with a sponsee or a newcomer finds a warm welcome at a meeting. We must not forget that our efforts here are to support those moments and make them possible. This will be fun, exciting, and even funny sometimes. But it will also be tiring, confusing, and perhaps even threatening or aggravating.
If it gets hard, for whatever reason, let us remember that our work is central and important to FA and to each of us personally. Let us remember our commitment to our own recovery and to FA as a whole. The “flower” of our work here comes from our roots in God and our own commitment to recovery. If we do our work well, we will be invisible. The literature will be available. The phone will be answered. WSI will be present to offer strong help to individuals, meetings, intergroups, and chapters.
How are we to do this work? It is always helpful to think about the principles that can guide us. Perhaps these reminders can be helpful to us all:
o First and foremost, we seek an understanding of our Higher Power’s will. This is fundamental to our way of life. This weekend is not about us. It is not about what we think. The point here is for us to collectively seek our Higher Power’s will for FA as a whole. Ego is not helpful. We need to listen well and be open to changing our minds. We need to be honest and speak our own thoughts.
o We also need to remember that this is FA. This is not AA, NA, CODA, OA, FAA, or any other 12 Step program. FA is unique and is our precious inheritance. In FA, we know that we are dealing with addiction – not a disorder and not simply a compulsion. We face a life threatening illness that can destroy us and horribly affect everyone around us. Abstinence is possible – there is a clear equivalent to sobriety – but abstinence is abstinence, it is not sobriety. Above, we know that our recovery depends upon honest, solid, continuous abstinence and the doing of the Steps in order.
As we work together this weekend, let’s keep things clear and simple. We need to keep asking ourselves several important questions. How does a given matter affect and support abstinence? How might we more effectively carry our message to newcomers? If I am upset, what does this show me about myself? Where is God in all that we are considering? How can I practice gratitude here?
I will thank all of you again at the end of our convention, but right now I want express deep, deep gratitude that we are given the opportunity to do this work together. On the board, I saw clearly how the group was always wiser than any individual. Today, we are an even larger group. Is there even greater wisdom in a larger group? Is there a chance for an even better understanding of God’s will?
It is a privilege for us to work together. And it is on that note of gratitude that I would like to begin this convention and this session. Thank you.
III. Synopsis of the Motions and Results of the Voting
A motion regarding adoption of an AA brochure on medications was referred to the Literature Committee for consideration.
The following business motions were heard
Motion: Revise Article III, Section 6 of the bylaws to reflect the correct election rotation schedule for committee chairpersons.
Now reads: Section 6. Term of Office.
The Board of Trustees consisting of its Officers and Committee Chairs shall serve for a term of two (2) years, to begin upon adjournment of the annual World Service Convention. No Trustee may serve for more than two (2) complete consecutive terms, in the same office. The elections will be held every year with the offices being filled on an alternating basis. Officers Election for Chair and Vice Chair shall take place in even years. Election for Secretary and Treasurer shall take place in odd years.
Committee Chair The Public Information, Bylaws, Teens and Twenties, Convention Planning Chair shall be elected in even years. The Twelfth Step, Office, Literature, Magazine, Chapter Support and Traditions Chair shall be elected in odd years.
To read: Section 6. Term of Office.
The Board of Trustees consisting of its Officers and Committee Chairs shall serve for a term of two (2) years, to begin upon adjournment of the annual World Service Convention. No Trustee may serve for more than two (2) complete consecutive terms, in the same office. The elections will be held every year with the offices being filled on an alternating basis. Officers Election for Chair and Vice Chair shall take place in even years. Election for Secretary and Treasurer shall take place in odd years. Committee Chair Bylaws, Convention Planning, Magazine, Office, and Traditions Chair shall be elected in even years. The Public Information, The Twelfth Step, Teens and Twenties, Literature, and Chapter Support Chairs shall be elected in odd years.
Intent: Brings our election rotation schedule into alignment with the bylaws.
Implementation: Paper change
Sponsoring Group: WSI Bylaws Committee
Outcome: Motion passed.
Motion 2 (formerly Motion #3)
Motion: The Wednesday 7 p.m. Brooklyn New York Group moves to add a continuing effect motion regarding the establishment, review, and maintenance of FA Policies and Procedures.
Now reads: NOT APPLICABLE AS THIS SUBJECT IS NOT ADDRESSED. At present there is no easy way to access information or documentation by which FA Policies and Procedures are established, reviewed, and maintained.
Background: In a discussion at the Bylaws Committee meeting during the 2006 World Service Business Convention (the “WSBC”) the parliamentarian stated that although there is not a documented FA policy by which FA establishes policies and procedures, the establishment of policies and procedures is defined in Robert’s Rules of Order.
To read: Policies and Procedures shall be written by the committee they serve, and would not be approved until voted upon and accepted by majority vote of the body at the following annual WSBC.
o Changes or updates to any Policy and Procedure deemed necessary to facilitate prudent functioning of the committee, implemented between annual WSBCs, shall be formally reviewed and voted upon by the Body at the next annual WSBC.
o Any motion to change a Policy and/or Procedure may be presented by a group or by an emergency new business motion at any WSBC.
o No manual may supersede a Policy and Procedure.
o Every Policy and Procedure is to be reviewed annually by the Committee it serves.
To add a definitive, simplified addendum to the FA governance documents (the Bylaws) by which Policies and Procedures are established, reviewed, accepted, and maintained.
Implementation: Paper change
Sponsoring Group: Wednesday, 7 p.m., Brooklyn, New York
Outcome: Motion referred to newly formed Bylaws Revision Committee for consideration.
Motion 3: The Board moves that an ad hoc Bylaws Revision Committee be formed, to be chaired by the Bylaws Committee Chair. Committee members will be selected by the chair through an application process.
Implementation: Appointment of ad hoc committee members by Bylaws Chair.
Sponsoring Group: World Service Board
Outcome: Motion passed by general consent
IV. Election of Officers
The body voted to approve the following slate of officers and committee chairs for two-year terms as follows:
Secretary – Joanna A.
Teens and Twenties – Debra F. Public Information – Bonnie H.
Outgoing officers, Benita W. (Secretary), and committee chairs Jean F. (Teens and Twenties) and Anne S. (PI), were offered the fellowship’s heartfelt thanks for their years of service.
V. World Service Committee Reports for 2007 - Highlights of the Past Year and Objectives for 2008
Bylaws Committee (Debbi N., Chair)
o Added the 12 Concepts of FA to bylaws following 2006 Convention
o Addressed and clarified a number of Bylaws issues including:
- election rotation
- definition of literature
- the role and responsibilities of the Executive Board
- quarterly report deadlines
- FA meeting criteria
- the procedure for reviewing and revising policies and procedures
o Began tracking policy decisions to develop and codify WSB Policies and Procedures including:
- contracting for Services (Hiring)
- delegate funding
- document storage and retention
- roles and responsibilities of officers
- the budget process
o Began review of all governing documents and submitted motion to the Conference to convene a Bylaws Revision Committee. The motion was passed.
o Established an application process and nominated candidates for the Bylaws Revision Committee
o Review all governing documents
o Revise current Bylaws
o Present revised bylaws to the Conference at the 2008 Convention
o Reorganize and re-format Continuing Motions manual and Policies and Procedures Manual
o Assist standing committees in establishing operational procedures manual
Chapter and Intergroup Support Committee (George M., Chair)
o Fully established a geographically diverse committee this year. Now an ongoing resource positioned to help the fellowship throughout the world.
o Nurtured the Development of a New Chapter—The Michigan Chapter.
o Expanded WSI Convention Chapter and Intergroup Support Forum, June 1, 2007.
o Published Best Practices News Flash - Electronic, brief, newsletter—5 Issues.
o Examined process of Chapter Donations to Intergroups and WSI and a uniform process for Funding Delegates to the Convention in Need of Financial Aid.
o Currently support three intergroups, five chapters, and four ad-hoc associations of meetings that organize for specific activities – pre- chapter locations. Assisted in communications among all of them and with WSI Board.
o Coordinated Quarterly Chapter and Intergroup Chairs Meeting to share communication and develop programs that meet the Fellowship’s needs.
o Continue to develop ways to support service leaders as they organize to reach the newcomer.
o Increase support for those involved in pre-chapter activities.
o Increase communications between chapters and IG’s, and between chapters, IG’s and the WSI Board.
Convention Committee (Ann H., Chair)
o Developing a statement of purpose for this and the fellowship convention.
o Coordinating logistics with the hotel including room selection and set-up, menu design, and audio-visual needs.
o Developing materials including registration documents, nomination and motion forms, and letters and notices to the fellowship. This year, for the first time, a phone list of convention registrants was included in the on-site registration packets.
o Working with the WSI board to process all motions submitted for consideration by FA meetings, intergroups, chapters, and board committees.
o Coordinating with the FA-WSI office to disseminate information to all FA members.
o Developing the convention agenda.
o Advertising the convention through the theconnection magazine and the FA website.
o Troubleshooting during the convention.
In addition, the Convention Committee made preparations for the first fellowship convention to be held at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego, California October 5–7, 2007, working with an active and enthusiastic west coast based volunteer group to:
o Find an extremely attractive and reasonably priced convention facility.
o Publicize the convention to the FA fellowship.
o Develop the convention program and registration materials.
o Find the best ways to be welcoming to the newcomer and members from outlying areas, for whom this convention may be their first exposure to the larger FA fellowship.
o Run a successful, well attended fellowship convention in San Diego.
o Analyze the results of that effort and develop a schedule for future fellowship conventions.
o Plan and manage the 2008 business convention to be held once again in Danvers, Massachusetts at the Sheraton Ferncroft Danvers Resort, date to be determined.
o Work with the board to develop a better manner for soliciting and processing motions to be brought to the floor of the business convention.
o Be mindful of the escalating costs of the conventions and plan accordingly.
o Work more closely with the intergroups and chapters to disseminate information about the convention(s) to our ever-growing fellowship.
Literature Committee (Anne B., Chair)
o Soliciting the writing of stories for FA book of stories
o Editing the stories for FA book of stories
o Pamphlet “There is a Solution” was thoroughly edited and re-printed
o Complete a draft of entire FA book of stories (including introductory material) by 2008 convention
Magazine Committee (Jacquie P., Chair)
The Magazine Committee comprises 20 members, including the chair, a paid member/designer, an archive editor, a group of editors and proofreaders, eight regional writing team members, an art team leader and a blossoming art team, and members at large. Approximately 140 members are on the chair’s contributor list and have agreed to write at least one article per year. The committee meets monthly on a conference call and communicates largely via email.
The magazine has run at 22 pages since its first issue in August 2003, and publishes five regular monthly features and columns, including:
- Member Qualification
- Step story
- No Matter What column
- Lighten Up column
- A Tools article
Our publishing year runs August-July; we begin with Step 1 in August and end with Step 12 in July. The magazine is printed in Woburn, Massachusetts.
Regional breakdown for subscriptions:
- California & Pacific Northwest, AK &HI 41%
- Eastern Seaboard 27%
- South 11%
- Midwest 10%
- Canada 7%
- Other International 2%
- Central US 1%
- APO <1%
o Subscriptions increased by 19% – baby steps to self-sufficiency
o Created Editorial Subcommittee and changed production process
o Initiated an Art Team – our first four-color illustrated cover
o Increased number of regular contributors
o Published Year 3 of theconnection Collection
o Increasing self-sufficiency – Meeting Subscriptions are only 16% of all subscriptions. The committee will publish a letter to meetings asking that they consider subscribing to multiple copies.
o Improve on quantity and quality of contributions. We need more articles in our archive and longer articles.
o Look at raising subscription rates to cover shipping costs
o Establish and use a Connection Rep network to pass the word to the fellowship about the magazine’s editorial needs via a new email – firstname.lastname@example.org. This will allow Connection Reps to solicit writing at their meetings.
o Enclose magazine in an envelope with subscription end-date printed with address
o Make magazine Contributor Guidelines available to facilitate more complete writing
o Publish topical writing themes in the magazine to try to gather as many articles as possible.
o Hold writing workshops at October Fellowship Convention
o Develop potential subscriber survey
o Encourage members to give service by joining the Art Team, becoming regular contributors (send email to email@example.com), become writing team leaders, or simply to subscribe
o Encourage meetings to support magazine by purchase a meeting subscription, purchasing the “Connection Collections” for display on literature tables, ensuring that meetings fill the service position of Connection Rep, ensuring that the Connection Rep makes regular announcements, and displaying order forms and tent card with contributor information on literature tables
Office Committee (Cindi H., Chair)
o In March, April, and May the WSI Office entered all convention members into the FA database and created an Excel spreadsheet. This information was sent to the chair of the Convention Committee.
o Solved problems with office server crashing twice, with the assistance of Elizabeth, our webmaster, Nora from California and Cynthia R. from Malden.
o Elizabeth determined that she could no longer maintain the FA website or act as webmaster. Nora from California took over entering data from the WAI. Cynthia R. from Malden enters information for Unity Intergroup and NEI.
o Dealt with backlog of literature orders and convention registrations once server was repaired, with the help of volunteer FA members
o Literature orders and new connection subscriptions were entered into the FA database.
o Each month after subscriptions are added to the FA database, an Excel spreadsheet is created. It is emailed to Landmark Impressions for orders to be filled and mailed out.
o Changed internet email carrier to Microsoft Outlook.
o Tracked and reported the number of phone calls and emails received in the WSI office.
o Tracked weekly postage costs and literature orders.
o Office literature and CDs were ordered in a timely manner to keep supplies current.
o Developed process to hire new office secretary. Hiring committee formed.
o The treasurer began the process of refining the book keeping process.
o Volunteers checked and responded to the WSI office voice mail messages and emails from members
o Each newcomer who called the WSI office received a prompt call back and a new member packet in the mail
o Search began for a new and larger WSI Office site began.
o WSI office secretary job description, orientation checklist and evaluation form were
o New WSI Office manager was appointed.
o Hire new office secretary
o Complete the search for a new WSI Office
Public Information Committee (Anne S., Chair)
o Updated, edited and re-formatted the Public Information Kit (PI Kit).
o Added many items to the document library, including WSI governing documents.
- Reorganized the document library to make it more user-friendly.
o Crafted a new MediaWatch response letter. Members should still email media information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
o Worked with the PI Working Group to clarify the principles that guide PI work.
o Began re-writing our Policies and Procedures.
o Continued to improve communication with Intergroups, Chapters and local meetings.
o Issued a post-2006-Business Convention press release to approximately 400 media outlets.
o Hosted an exhibit booth at the national educational convention of the American Association of Diabetic Educators. Followed up with many contacts and our booth staffers.
o Began discussions of what changes are needed in the www.foodaddicts.org website.
o Completed links to our website from some national medical education and eating disorder websites.
o Responded to many inquiries from the fellowship about public information work.
o Responded to many email and phone inquiries from the media, students and suffering food addicts who heard of FA through doing an internet search.
o Developed three new fliers to be used along with the tri-fold brochures
o Revise, update, and improve the foodaddicts.org website
o Continue to work with German members to establish a German website
o Finalize Policies and Procedures once a policy is in place
o Begin work on a new Survey, last one done in 2005
o Establish an FA Fact Sheet in order to glean information when needed for press or fellowship needs
o Continue to improve on MediaWatch communications (our output)
o Continue to work on medialinks project – linking us to other entities
o Explore more thoroughly the need for new Public Service Announcements (PSA’s)
o Try to establish a policy for discerning which conventions FA should attend
o Seek approval of the work the PI Working Group did on various issues of concern
o Continue to update PI Kit and answer requests from PI@foodaddicts.org
o Continue to oversee foodaddicts.org and update as needed.
Twelfth Step Committee (Jamie M., Chair)
The Twelfth Step Committee has concentrated this last year on its work in four subcommittees. Our primary goal has been to promote outreach to those FA members who are in outlying areas or isolated due to language barriers or physical constraints. The sub-committees are:
- Communication (On the FA Frontier e- newsletter)
o Established standards, logos, guidelines and professional appearance of the phone lists for FA Members in Outlying Areas and the Sponsor List for Members in the Outlying Areas
o Worked in conjunction with the Communications Committee to produce the first FA e- newsletter “On the FA Frontier”
o Continue to edit the second issue of “On the FA Frontier” e-newsletter and help to produce the 3rd issue
o Continue distribution of Long Distance Sponsor list and clarifying requirements for inclusion
o Continue to distribute monthly phone lists of people living in outlying areas
o Determine (with the WSI Traditions Committee) the necessary guidelines for protecting anonymity in our communications on the FA web sites
o Continued work on document: “FA Guidelines: Supporting Food Addicts with Special Needs”
o Creating a brochure to highlight the committee's suggestions for supporting food addicts with special needs
o Meeting monthly with 5 members
o Finalizing a pamphlet entitled “FA Guidelines for Supporting Food Addicts with Special Needs”
o Finalizing a policy document entitled “FA - Guidelines for Supporting Food Addicts with Special Needs” to serve as a resource on the website
Communication (On the FA Frontier e- newsletter):
o The first issue of “On the FA Frontier”, which focused on the “telephone” tool, has been distributed via snail and email to FA members in Outlying areas and is archived on the website along with the last 4 issues of Gratitude in Action
o The second issue of “On the FA Frontier”, which will focus on the “meetings” tool, has been compiled and is being edited
o The third issue will focus on Sponsoring FA members in Outlying areas
o Compiled a FA WSI Twelfth Step Committee Universal Language List
o Align the FA WSI Twelfth Step Committee Universal Language List with other FA WSI phone lists
o Find a venue for dissemination of the Language List
o Create policy through an ad-hoc committee for the future translation of FA resources such as intergroup/chapter and WSI reports into languages other than English
Goals/Objectives for the Committee as a whole:
o Review and update the WSI Twelfth Step Committee Policies and Procedures
o Continue to serve as a resource and guide for Twelfth Step service, addressing questions and concerns for FA members by facilitating communication and meeting special needs.
Traditions Review Committee (Joan M., Chair)
How the Committee works:
Committee members are from various geographic regions of FA. They are appointed. Must have a minimum of 4 yrs abstinence. Quorum is 2/3 of the members. Bylaws Chair and WSB Chair are ex-officio members.
Committee responds to issues brought from fellowship. Traditions are guidelines for meetings. They are interpreted through the unique perspective or “lens” of long-term FA experience of the Committee members. Committee seeks to protect the spirit of the Traditions. Sometimes the specific language of a Tradition addresses an issue. In other cases, Committee extrapolates from the principles of the Traditions to apply to an issue.
Process for Traditions Issues:
Issues are submitted in writing (email to email@example.com) by an individual member, a meeting, a Chapter, an Intergroup, or World Service. Committee reviews topics monthly. Committee consults with WSB, as needed. Committee’s response is sent back to inquirer. Summary of issue and response is included in WSB quarterly report sent to all meetings. Purpose is to inform.
Work/Accomplishments (partial list):
o Q: Request for FA to make video for a web-based news site
o A: Video would be FA literature and requires Conference approval
o Q: Use of “business cards” with FA logo for PI or on literature table
o A: Material for public or literature needs FA conference approval. Not FA approved, so not on Literature table or for PI
o Q: Use of a “free” conference call system for FA business (WSB)
o A: Considered not a break of Tradition because phone charges include hidden payment to the company, but service board could consider making donation to avoid the appearance of violation
o Q: Use of specific “cell-phone lists”
o A: Violation of Tradition 6 – to not endorse outside entities
o Q: Men’s or special-interest meetings
o A: violation because limited membership; limits carrying message to all food addicts - food addiction does not discriminate by type of person or interest
o Q: FA booth at national health conventions
o A (Majority view): not break of Tradition - information booth, members trained to not promote - go to selected ones for 2 years, then re-evaluate
o A (Minority view): break of Tradition – promotional environment so FA would be perceived as promotional – not good to have a booth
o To review and update Policies and Procedures
Teens and Twenties Committee (Jean F., Chair)
o Brainstormed extensive lists of educational, clerical, medical institutions who may have influence to bring FA to young people
o Identified contacts/key personnel in international and national organizations
o Structured the commit so they would a process of how to bring FA to their organization
o Awaited approval by the board to start making contacts
o Had monthly conference calls to support the committee, its members, the intergroups and chapters.
o Clarified the three sub-committees: Cooperation with the Healthcare Community, Cooperation with the Professional Community, and Internal Communication Committee
o Determined that two years of abstinence is requirement for members of committee
o Make contact with the key players in the organizations researched.
o Understand the best practices of how to make contact and document the processes and procedures for future use.
o Spread the message of recovery to professionals, healthcare providers that come into contact with youth or those that care for youth
o Construct a venue where struggling young people who suffer from this disease can learn about FA and be able to get well
o Understand how the Teens and Twenties committee can better serve the youth who suffer from food addiction
o Create a safe place for change/growth to happen in order to honestly see how the young food addict can get well
o Review all policies and procedures of this committee regularly and update accordingly
o Support the Intergroups and Chapters
VI. Intergroup and Chapter Reports
New England Intergroup [NEI] (Kathleen M., Chair)
Total Meetings: 218
Beginning Balance FY07: 07/01/06 - $16,786.65
Ending Balance FY07: 06/30/07 - $12,150.02
o Treasurer and Office Committee
- Executive Board agreed to hire accountants on a monthly retainer to help organize financial records.
- Had accountants bring all accounting records up-to- date on QuickBooks and trained the NEI secretary on it. Had them file tax returns from 2002 (the year WSO was formed, thereby splitting off from NEI) to the present and reconciled the NEI bank balance on a monthly basis with what the secretary enters on QuickBooks.
- The Board also agreed to establish an IT Committee. This committee will work closely with the Office Committee. The viability of the IT Committee will be assessed during the current year.
- We will assess our relationship with our Chapters. We are not sure if Chapters will be better served as part of WSI, rather than NEI. Most of NEI’s outreaches are within Massachusetts; however, it is unclear whether that fact alone justifies a structural change.
o PI Committee
- Initiated quarterly conference calls for all NEI reps to share best practices.
- Created a PowerPoint presentation to present to the medical professional and haveorganized several outreach sessions.
- Established the PI Info Session Week wherein the PI Committee helped and coordinated 15 meetings participating in one-week of Info Sessions throughout the Greater Boston area. This was something new and the committee decided that it was not an activity they would pursue in the future because it was not the best use of their resources.
o Teens and Twenties Committee
- Began to repeat outreaches at the same schools
- Created an outreach information sheet which includes participants’ phones numbers, site contacts, parking instructions, etc
- Attended three health fairs in the fall of 06 and four outreaches in the spring of ’07.
o Convention Resource Committee
- Worked with WSI on a sub-committee exploring the options around funding delegates to the convention.
o Twelfth Step Committee
- Set up home meetings for two members.
- Organized another successful Thank-a-Thon on Thanksgiving Day.
- Actively solicited struggling meetings to call them for help, then followed-up with action.
o Office Committee
- Created a meeting liaison position
- Provided a lot of thought into the formation of the IT Committee.
- Planned to assess the need for an office.
o Chapter Liaison Committee
- Organized NEI Chapter Support Day in November 2006
- Is working on scheduling and organizing the next Chapter Support Day.
NEI’s mission for this year is to foster healthy meetings. One of our objectives is to strengthen our outreach to new meetings, meetings on the frontier, and struggling meetings. To this end, we have approved $1,000 for the Twelfth Step Committee’s Travel Fund. The Twelfth Step Committee will provide guidelines for “adopting” a meeting and will be proactive in educating meetings on what that means, and encouraging meetings to adopt a meeting in need of support.
Western Area Intergroup [WAI] (Kris S. Chair)
The Financial Summary for July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007 is attached.
7/01/06 Beginning Balance $ 6,629.00
Total Income $ 16,945.27
Total Expenses $ 15,486.04
6/30/07 Ending Balance $ 8,321.93
o Growth of Intergroup attendance (most recent meeting had 320 attendees.)
o Investigating liability insurance for the board and for WAI meetings (some meeting places request proof of insurance).
o Revamped vice chair and secretary responsibilities so that Intergroup runs more efficiently.
o Increased 7th Tradition collections
o Added an Continuing Effects Motion to elect the secretary and treasurer every two years in even-numbered years. (Currently Our officers are elected every two years in February of odd-numbered years, with nominations in January. The IG Treasurer maintains the corporate documents. Our Bylaws and Continuing Effect Motions (CEM) are sent to FA- WSI every two years. Our Vice Chair acts as our ad hoc Bylaws sub-committee Chair.)
o Have increased meetings from 121 in 2006 to 150 in 2007.
Southern California: 15
New Zealand: 1
Northern California: 81
British Colombia: 2
New Mexico: 1
Central California: 6
o Maintain a twelve-page WAI directory (revised monthly and posted on the website for dissemination at meetings) that includes recent additions of New Zealand, Alaska, Utah, Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico.
o Follow up with meetings to ensure accuracy of directory and Website.
o Distribute confidential monthly emails to approximately 275 FA members. These emails consist of updated phone lists that include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, and also a phone list of members living in outside areas of the Western United States where there are few or no FA meetings. The Outlying Area Speaker List is also emailed to members as well as Intergroup meeting summaries and any other information pertinent to FA members.
o Continues to hand out the document entitled “Introduction to Western Area Intergroup,” which is distributed to all new participants at the monthly Intergroup meeting. (This was first implemented in ’04 and still continues to be very well- received, especially since attendance at Intergroup continues to grow monthly.)
o Maintain a “Welcome Table” set up at every Intergroup with people standing at the table to greet those who are new to the Intergroup meeting. In addition, there are volunteers who stand at the entrance doors of the building to help guide people to where a certain committee is meeting.
o Maintain an FA/WAI phone line with two voice mailboxes. The 800 number now spans all of California and was also expanded to include Oregon (previous coverage was only for the San Francisco area). The second voice mailbox recites the names and phone numbers of FA members located in five areas of Northern and Southern California who are willing to take calls and answer questions about FA.
o List FA in nine Yellow Page books under “weight loss programs” and/or “eating disorders,” following the example of where OA is listed. We are also listed in several communities in the White Pages. The first mailbox provides general FA information and the website information. Our FA phone message line is now listed in the Yellow Pages of six phone books and can be seen in phone directories on the internet.
o Implemented the practice of selling literature on Intergroup Sundays. This first month saw sales of $247 and in February the amount almost tripled with sales reaching $664. In March a total of nearly $800 was sold, and in April and May over $500 was sold. Again, during the month of June sales nearly reached $800 and the inventory was completely depleted. At this time literature can be ordered by downloading the order form from the website and emailing it to the office.
o Generated ideas about providing literature to those who are too far away to come to Intergroup and need the literature mailed to them. The idea has also come up of providing meeting start-up kits to new meetings. These two potential next steps will be discussed at more length and need to include further communication with the WSI Office Committee at least.
Teens & 20’s Committee
o Continued to focus efforts on college campuses, participating in 14 Health Fairs in three areas of Northern California: North Bay, South Bay, East Bay and San Francisco. We hope to be able to participate in Sacramento next year. We sent volunteers in the Fall and in the Spring to Washington High School to speak to a Health Class where the teacher has requested us to come for many years. The following schools had Health Fairs where we participated: Napa Valley College, Merrit College, Cal State East Bay, Cabrillo College, Santa Rosa Junior College—Petaluma and Santa Rosa Campus’s, College of Alameda, College of San Mateo, West Valley College, Canada College, Sonoma State College, Mills College, Laney College, and San Francisco State—African American Health Fair.
o Had some success getting the teens & 20’s tri-fold brochure included in college orientation packets, but the cost was too high. We did, however, mail them to school counseling departments when requested.
o Pursued getting FA included on college websites. So far we have our name listed on: University of San Francisco, Cal Berkeley, Cal State East Bay, Mission College, Canada College, Foothill College, Portland State, and Diablo College.
o Changed the abstinence requirement for participation at Health Fairs: It is now required that one person have two years of abstinence and the other person can have 90 days or more.
o Explored purchasing tablecloths with our logo on them, and we will finish up with a 9 x 14 inch, corkboard sign to put on the table at Health Fairs with our information on it.
o Public Information / Media (P.I.) Committee
o Media subcommittee conducted outreach to radio, print, and TV, including sending out PSA’s and calendar items, which sometimes turn into interest for an interview. These occasionally generate actual articles about FA.
o Community Outreach subcommittee pursued health fair and trade show participation. We usually attend free events but on occasion we have opted to pay for booths and sought guidance from WSI for approval.
o Reached out to cable access TV stations all over California resulting in public service announcements being placed in Morgan Hill, Tracy and Davis. We developed a one-page PowerPoint slide for this, which made it simple for these stations to run during their calendar section broadcasts. Usually it consists of a static screen flashing local events.
o Mailed letters out to almost all YMCA’s in California, resulting in tri-folds being placed in many locations as well as letters to the health care professional. We had 1 YMCA request an information session which is still in the works, possibly not until summer ‘08.
o Reached out to a dozen JCCs in California resulting in tri-folds being placed at these facilities. We also attended a health fair at one JCC.
o Reached out to all media outlets in California via email.
o Held information sessions in Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, Texas and Canada.
o Currently distributing East Bay, SF, and South tri-folds to all Kaiser health plan- sponsored farmer’s markets in those areas. We send our brochures to their central facility, and a very kind man there distributes them out for us.
o Have begun an effort has begun to have FA linked on websites that make sense (i.e. Hazelden, AA, company health sections, TV and radio station websites, etc.) We are still in the beginning phases but believe this well help more people find FA as a solution. More and more people are finding out about FA through search engines.
o Created a two-page document, “You’re a PI Rep, Now What?” to help new PI reps start their job at their perspective meetings. It will be distributed at intergroup.
o Health Fairs this year
o United Behavioral Health in San Francisco (for the employees of UBH).
o City and County of San Francisco-Outreach encompassed the eastern half of SF focusing on lower-income areas such as the Western Addition, Bayview Hunter’s Point Mission and Tenderloin neighborhoods.
o APA Convention
o SF JCC Cupertino Health Fair
Twelfth Step Committee
o Grew twelfth Step Committee to about 100 members monthly.
o Programs continued from last year included the carpools of people to go to meetings in outlying areas.
o A is also maintained a Bay Area Outlying Area Speaker List to help speaker – getters in outlying areas find speakers for their meetings.
o Continued to encourage "adopting a meeting" where larger meetings take smaller ones under their wing, exchange phone calls, keep posted on available sponsors, include each other’s phone numbers on the meetings’ phone list, and generally lend a hand in whatever ways they can.
o Expanded the annual Thank-a-thon to include four separate locations in the Bay Area.
o Arranged home meetings or calls for members who were unable to attend regular meetings due to illness or surgeries.
o This year we designated a member to act as the coordinator for homebound members. The Phone List for Members in Outlying Areas was picked-up as a WSI activity and is now distributed to other intergroups. The Phone List continues to be a favorite service of many of our Twelfth Step members.
o Have assigned a contact person (Target Area Reps) for each of the outlying area meetings (i.e. Alaska, Arizona, Auburn, CA; Austin, TX; Calgary; Denver, CO; Fremont, CA; Hawaii; Moscow, ID; Eagle, ID; Iowa; Lethbridge, Canada; Los Angeles, CA.) to connect with and keep up to date on all the latest goings on both in Intergroup and on the individual meeting level, (making sure they have all the information needed to keep their groups running smoothly and effectively).
o Continued to administer the WAI Speaker Fund to support members with many years of abstinence to share their experience strength and hope with newcomers at FA Information Sessions. Many speakers traveled significant distances to share and did not request reimbursement.
o Establish new initiative: “Best Practices” sessions where two to three members share their experience serving in a particular service position. Meeting Secretary/Speaker-getter; Intergroup Contact; Public Information Representative; and Treasurer were covered in the first half of 2007, and several newcomers expressed newfound willingness to volunteer for service positions.
o Recruited greeters to welcome newcomers and members new to the committee at the entrance at each meeting to explain the committee’s charge and to encourage participation.
Convention Resource Committee
o In 2006, WAI funded 24 delegates for a total of $6,505 vs. 22 delegates in 2006 for a total of approximately $6,800.
o As part of the approval process, our Chair, Brent B., worked with former and current NEI Convention Committee Chairs, Joshua and Courtney, to develop a uniform application process for funding and approving applicants.
South Florida Chapter (Mariah J., Chair)
o Held three information sessions: one in Naples, one in Davie, and one in Boynton Beach.
o Coordinated FA representation at a health fair at Broward Community College’s South Campus.
o In keeping with the suggestions in the Chapter Manual, appointed two more committee chairs. Muriel S. as the new Bylaws Committee Chair, and Ilene M. as the Intergroup Liaison committee chair.
o Voted to create a Delegate Fund subcommittee (under the Office Committee), headed by Bonnie H., to review applications for financial assistance to delegates attending the WSBC. Two applicants were offered assistance, which will make it possible for them to participate in the Conference.
o In May of 2007 our Treasurer, Mary C. stepped down and Felice S. was appointed interim Treasurer until Board elections in July of this year.
o Bonnie H. is the interim Public Information/Media Committee chair since the previous chair stepped down.
o In July of 2007 Board elections will be held, during which our fellowship will vote in a new Chair, Vice Chair, and Treasurer.
o Members voted to stagger elections so that next year we will elect a new Treasurer and Secretary. The following year we will elect a new Chair and Vice Chair. This was done to better mirror the manner in which NEI conducts Board elections.
o Three meetings were moved to 12-step houses (Friday Davie, Saturday Hollywood and Tuesday Miami). While the Davie and Hollywood meetings attracted newcomers from other fellowships, the Miami meeting struggled with attendance and ultimately closed last month.
o Maintained meeting lists, provided detailed directions to all of the meetings registered with the South Florida Chapter. Meeting representatives pick up the latest version of the meeting list at monthly chapter meetings and email them to meeting contacts
o Provided (and updated) a comprehensive phone list of all members within the Chapter to add to individual meeting phone lists which are on meeting literature tables.
o Sent meeting highlights, via email, to meeting representatives, who announce and discuss them at business meetings.
o Funded and made daily checks of the FA/SFC 800 number phone line.
o Created a Delegate Fund subcommittee to allow two FA delegates (subcommittee members were excluded from using this fund) to attend the 2007 Business Conference. The subcommittee voted to halt contributions until 2008 needs are determined.
Public Information / Media (P.I.) Committee
o Participated in Broward Community College health fair and received an invitation to participate in their annual Student Health Fair.
o Updated media list.
o Researched local periodicals that are more likely to post information about our meetings.
o Received NEI approval to post meetings on Craig’s List.
o Provided assistance to three meetings and coordinated three PI Sessions in various geographical areas: Naples, Boynton Beach, and Davie.
o Purchased a number of pamphlets to be held by the PI Committee and distributed to newcomers at all PI Sessions.
Michigan Chapter (Jill D.,Chair)
o Established Michigan chapter in March, 2007.
o Elected board members in March and April.
o Reached out to all meetings to find out how many meetings will be registered in Michigan. (Have approximately 37 meetings in Michigan to date.)
o Transitioned from meeting as one big group in the General Assembly Meeting for 1 ½ hours for the first few months to having the board meet separately for ½ hour before the General Assembly Meeting
o Registered as a chapter of New England Intergroup.
o Established an email address for the chapter.
o Researched information about all meetings in the state.
o Surveyed FA meeting members in the state to update meeting registrations, contact information (including email), and their feelings about becoming part of a chapter.
o Directed meeting representatives to register their meetings and contacts to the Chapter office (to be forwarded to NEI).
o Bylaws Committee chair drafted a letter explaining why the Chapter was formed and it was read at Michigan FA business meetings across the state.
o Researched having an 800 number listed for the Chapter; the vote is pending on whether to establish that number.
o Research having a PO Box; vote is pending.
Maine Chapter (Jane M, Chair)
6/1/06 Beginning Balance
$4,942.99 (including $525 contribution to NEI and $1,575
contribution to WSI)
5/31/07 Ending Balance
o Maintained an average attendance at meetings on the first Sunday of every month (8:30-10:15am) of 12-15 people, with an increase in people taking new service positions as a result of new meetings in outlying areas (Topsham, Waterville).
o Continued to focus on service work in two committees, the PI/Media Committee and the Office Committee.
o Continued discussion about the challenges and feasibility of continuing to maintain the overwhelmingly large (250 people/9 page) statewide FA Phone list which we had undertaken in the previous year.
o The Chapter voted to help meetings develop their own meeting lists which are easier to use -- in addition to being more intimate, it helps the newcomer get to know people at the meeting and want what they have.
o Participated in the 2006 NEI Chapter Day.
o Worked closely with FA NEI to identify and develop ways to foster communications between FA NEI and the Maine Chapter. Met, in May, with FA NEI’s 12th Step Committee to discuss ways that we could begin 12th Step Committee service in Maine.
o In June 2006, held elections for the Chair and Vice Chair positions, and in May, 2007 submitted nominations for the Secretary and Treasurer and will hold elections in June 2007 (immediately following the Annual FAWSI Business Convention).
o Updated meeting directories and sent then monthly to the Chapter contacts. (Changes in meetings during the past year include the closing of the Friday AM Ocean Park meeting on October 1, 2006; and the opening of three meetings: Wednesday, 7 PM, Topsham on December 6, 2006 - Tuesday, 7 PM, Augusta on March 6, 2007 - Friday, 6:30 PM, Waterville on May 11, 2007.)
o Expanded or added two positions to facilitate the accuracy of the Maine Meeting Directory and database: 1) The Maine Meeting Directory Coordinator records meeting registration/changes on the Maine Meeting spreadsheet, updates the Maine Meeting directory, and forwards the registration change form to New England Intergroup. A Desk Procedure sheet was created to assist the Coordinator with these tasks, and 2) The Maine Meeting Liaison was developed in order to support Chapter contacts, and to serve as a means of communication between meetings and the Maine Chapter. The liaison contacts Chapter contacts on a quarterly basis, or when there is a new contact. The liaison ensures the accuracy of meeting records, and may act as a resource to meetings regarding meeting health. A script was developed to assist the Liaison with these contacts.
o Maintained Maine’s hotline/phone line, which is listed on the meeting directory and in several directory listings throughout the state. The voice mail system notifies the caller that they can receive information about FA from one of our hotline volunteers and provides the caller with FA’s the WSO website address. A hotline coordinator oversees seven volunteers who each retrieve messages on one day a week. The coordinator provides each volunteer with pamphlets, etc. for mailings, and guidelines on how to talk to newcomers. Volunteers record data on where the callers have heard about FA.
o Two meetings (Saturday Westbrook and Thursday Westbrook) established literature racks in their communities with brochures supplied initially by NEI. The Chapter PI Committee also provided literature, including “Are You Having Trouble Controlling The Way You Eat” and the Maine Meeting directory, to supply several racks that are now supported by meetings in the area.
o Supplied brochures to support new groups that formed in Topsham and Augusta with the literature obtained from two meetings that closed.
o Developed a letter (with help from the WSI PI Chair) to use in response to invitations to health fairs, wellness fairs, and conventions in Maine. One response was sent to the Maine Schoolsite Health Promotion Program.
o Coordinated a table at the annual Maine Health Women’s Wellness Day in South Portland, sponsored by Maine’s largest hospital system and open to the general public. FA members who volunteered at the table participated in a telephone conference call to review traditions and “How to Present in Public.” On the same day, members from the Augusta area tabled at a wellness day at Inland Hospital and the chapter assisted by providing literature.
o Held two Information Session “blitzes” held during the year, in June and September/October, with about five to seven meetings holding Information Sessions during that period. The Committee purchased classified ads in five of the state’s major papers, the Portland Press Herald, Lewiston Sun Journal, Times Record, Kennebec Journal and Waterville Sentinel. These ads supported local groups’ notices and calendar listings in community papers. During the weeks surrounding the blitz, the hotline recording was changed to announce upcoming Information Sessions. We provided community announcements and public service announcements, updated flyers and brochures, reviewed and mailed letters to Healthcare and Clergy, and reviewed the Information Session format.
o Provided a listing for FA in “Maine 211,” a comprehensive internet and telephone hotline service that lists social service agencies and volunteer-based groups in Maine.
o Updated our media list and cable access list, and established contacts with Penbay Healthcare facility in Damariscotta and the Mercy Cancer Community Center in S. Portland.
Upstate New York Chapter (Diane O., Interim Chair)
Net Income/Loss: +154.86
October 06: NEI $150
December 06: NEI $200, WSI $200
May 07: NEI $500
o Formed a subcommittee to track spending and income and to make recommendations to the chapter at the close of the year regarding budget changes.
o Sought increased donations from chapter meetings to establish financial solvency and regular donations to New England Intergroup.
o Public Information chair, provided an “outreach tip” for inclusion in the chapter minutes.
o Changed monthly chapter meeting to Ithaca, the central-most city in our chapter, instead of rotating meetings between cities, a practice which failed to increase participation at chapter meetings.
o Continued to install and maintain literature racks, send medical professional outreach packets, and seek out to and attend health fairs.
- Saw the explosion in Rochester meeting attendance and an addition of three new meetings.
- Continued discusses on how to serve weak meetings at the farthest reaches of thechapter’s geographical area and to be of use to these meetings.
- Continue to practice regular and consistent outreach practices throughout the chapter. Maintain financial solvency and a regular pattern of donation to FA NEI and WSI. Continue to look at the most expedient, efficient and prudent ways to maintain and disseminate the phone and meeting lists.
- Work with the PI Committee to produce and distribute information packets to the medical community as needed.
- Introduce the Chapter PI Committee to all meetings by writing a letter to each chapter contact requesting that it be read at the meeting’s business meeting.
- Provide a PI kit in a binder to each registered meeting in our chapter.
- Maintain the PI highlight in the Chapter meeting minutes to emphasize effective PI practices.
- Provide packets for medical professionals as needed.
VII. Vice Chair’s Remarks (Elissa P.)
Last year, the vice-chair before me, Carol C., commented in her remarks, on the question of “How do we grow as a fellowship?” She reflected upon the fundamental principles of acceptance, respect, honesty, gratitude, and service-- essential ideas that have allowed us to become “healthy;” ideas that are necessary for us to be mindful of, and to practice daily, if we are to stay healthy as individual members of FA, and if we are going to continue to grow in ways that keep FA healthy, as a whole.
Standing here today, I thought it might be useful to build upon the ideas of which Carol spoke so beautifully. How have we grown? And, where are we now? Upon reflection, it is obvious to me that we have, indeed grown healthier: We have all made it here one more year to talk about how to help our organization move forward; our fellowship, number of meetings, and geographic presence, have become even more widespread; and those of us sitting here in this room, as well as so many others, are all still abstinent, and helping each other to get well and stay well. When I think about what else we might need in order to continue in this God-given direction, in order to continue growing healthier, the word that comes to mind for me is strength.
First and foremost, we are all looking for the power to overcome eating addictively. We are all looking for the strength to do so-one day at a time- and hopefully forever.
How do we get this strength? Allow me to paraphrase some excerpts from the Twenty-Four Hours- A-Day book. The book says:
Strength comes from the fellowship you find when you come into the halls-- that is, just being with others who have found the way out, gives you a feeling of security.
Strength comes from sharing -- that is, honestly telling your own experiences with eating—all the junk and troubles of your past. Sharing brings it up and out, and relieves you of all the things you’ve kept hidden.
Strength comes from faith- that is, you begin to believe there must be a Power in the world, outside yourself, which is stronger than you, and to which you can turn for help.
Strength comes from working with other food addicts. In carrying on the message, you become stronger by having helped another addict to get abstinent.
I am personally moved by the completeness of these ideas: I walk into a meeting hall as a struggling food addict and am greeted by healthy individuals. I am no longer alone. I listen to others share, I identify, and I learn to open up as well. I see that something Divine is helping others. I start to consider that I too, am worthy of the help of a Higher Power. Finally, the principles of abstinence, gratitude, and surrender, slowly become familiar. I become physically, mentally, and spiritually able to be of service. I now, must help too-- I greet a struggling food addict who walks into the room, and that person is no longer alone. And so on,
It is through this cycle that thousands of food addicts have found all the power-- all the strength-- they need to overcome eating addictively.
Until the age of 24, I struggled with my with fear, doubt, and insecurity, as well as, the pain and humiliation that comes with being overweight- sometimes as much as 100 pounds overweight. I had no idea that things could be different.
A few months ago, my father brought me two tri-fold cards- one yellow, and one blue. The logo and font on the cover immediately indicated to me that what he was giving me were my old Weight Watchers passbooks – fully transcribed with all my gains and losses from March of 1982 to March of 1983. I was barely 10 years old, and I had already been struggling with my weight from the age of eight. In the summer of 1981, I lost 12 pounds in order to reach my prescribed goal, but maintained that loss only until March of 1982. The passbooks clearly show that I was not capable of controlling my weight. I weighed in regularly during that next year- down two pounds one week, up three pounds the next. I couldn’t stay within five pounds of my goal weight. At the end of the twelve months, the little blue card showed I was not so little- I had gained 19 and a half pounds in one year’s time.
The slogan on the front of the attendance card says, “Some talking, some listening, and a program that works.” Today I know that a program of recovery is what works for me. It works if I work it. I am grateful for the opportunity to work it, and I am eternally grateful to all of you, and to our whole fellowship, who also choose to work it.
Recovery gives me all the strength I need. It gives me the strength I need to live a sane, happy, and useful life, to be present for others, and to have a relationship with God. It even gives me the strength I need to be girdle free.
If each one of us does all that is suggested - embrace this fellowship, share our experiences humbly and honestly, let faith emerge, and engage in service (first and foremost, of course, by staying abstinent), than we will find strength. We will bring strength to those who still suffer, bring strength to ourselves, and to each other, and we will, without a doubt, strengthen FA as a whole.
VIII. Closing Remarks from FA-WSI Chair (Kesaya N.)
I would like to share some thoughts – some questions, really. There are a growing number of issues that trouble all of us that we have not yet found a way to talk about. This fact in itself troubles me, and I think it might trouble some, or many, of you.
Perhaps this is all right, these being issues that we are just not yet ready to address at the convention level, in the setting of this large group. Perhaps this is just for now, and we will later find a way to talk. Or perhaps this is the way it is to be.
In other groups, these matters might be brought up and discussed by a guru, a priest or rabbi, a president. We do not have people in such roles in our organization. We do not have them, and we do not want them – at any level. Those who “lead” are your servants, not your governors, and no one can claim to have any special wisdom.
I ask myself about my rightful role in this situation. As I said, I can claim no special wisdom, but I have been privileged to gain a kind of overview over the past year. I receive calls, emails, hear concerns from many different people of varying perspectives. So I wonder if I can bring up some of the issues we have not been able to discuss through some questions I would like to ask us to consider. I hope this will help us begin to directly talk with one another – regionally or one-on- one.
As you know, the issue of the use of mood-altering medications has been approached at this convention, though it was not directly brought to the floor. One motion – withdrawn by the makers – was that WSI adopt an AA pamphlet focused on the question of the use of medication. Another motion was submitted as emergency new business, proposing the adoption of a conference-approved statement that FA has no opinion on the use of medications. The body voted not to take up this motion. However, this morning, the executive board met with some members of a group involved in both motions. The members of that group were concerned because they said that they have heard the following:
o FA members refusing to sponsor a newcomer who is currently on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication;
o Members telling sponsees to get off all medications – including insulin and heart medications;
o Members telling or urging sponsees to get off anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication.
As an individual, I was distressed to hear this. I would hope that no one among us would ever summarily turn away a newcomer who was seeking our help – seeking a sponsor. We are here to help the newcomer, as the Twelfth Step and our Traditions remind us. Our primary purpose is to carry the message to the food addict who seeks help, regardless of that person’s particular circumstances.
I must remind us all – and I stress this – FA and WSI have no opinion on the use of medications. We are not doctors. None of us can rightfully or safely “tell” anyone to get off any medication. We are not qualified to give medical advice. I say this now, because after our discussion in the small group this morning, I promised that I would bring this up at our general business session. I also said that I will write about this in a letter to the fellowship. The small group that met this morning agreed to talk again. And perhaps FA as a whole needs to take up this issue in one of our own pamphlets. Adding a discussion of medications to our pamphlet on sponsoring might be something we want to consider.
This issue is not simple and discussed as a single strand, however. At the same time that it is true that we cannot act as doctors, it is also true that we do – and must – sponsor from our own personal experience. Neither WSI – this convention – nor your board ever can or ever should attempt to govern how people sponsor.
People in our program have many different attitudes toward medications because we have different experiences with them. And please note that when I say “medications” I am referring now specifically to those taken to affect the mood. There are people who are on medications and have found them helpful. But there are also people who have been on medications for years who have gotten off of them.
All of us need to look at how we sponsor. Are we turning someone away out of hand and telling them we can’t sponsor them just because they are on medications at the moment? On the other hand, are we demonizing one another? Could it be that in many cases we are misunderstanding what is being said? Sometimes, sponsees and newcomers do not hear what a sponsor actually says. Perhaps the sponsor has hope that a newcomer or sponsee does not yet have. In sponsoring from their own experience, some sponsors are simply asking a newcomer or sponsee to have an open mind. They ask: “Can you believe that with abstinence, many things are possible that look impossible now? Can you wait and see who you are after you have been abstinent awhile and are living an abstinent way of life? It has been possible for many of us to get off medications. Have an open mind. Have hope.” This is valid! But sometimes the reaction to this is misunderstanding and anger, for we tend to feel afraid when presented with the possibility of something we thought impossible.
All of us need to look again at how we sponsor, but we also need to look at our communication – and lack of communication – with one another. Conversations are not confrontations. Why are we not talking with one another? What we hear that someone has said is not necessarily what was said. If we hear that someone is speaking in ways that worry us, why not go straight to the source and ask? If we see or directly know that someone is giving medical advice, why are we not asking God for help so that we can find the words to discuss this with the person directly? And if some sponsors encourage sponsees to have hope and embrace the possibility that they might be able to get off medications at some point, what is wrong with that? Isn’t our program based upon the assumption that we share from our own experience?
This brings me to the other matter we are not discussing, which is the question of so-called “lines.” I have been told over and over that people are speaking in terms of “lines.” At one point, someone called me distressed almost beyond words because a newcomer had left a message on her answering machine saying, “I am looking for a sponsor. What line are you in?” Newcomers are now using such language and are caught up in such thinking. This is terrible!
We made an error when we first released a written version of our history, because we included the names of these two early members. This has since been perpetuated. None of us wants to frame our personal experience or our program in terms of “lines,” I hope, yet this happens because we ourselves use this language.
In its first draft of our new book – the draft presented to you this weekend – the literature committee wrote the history of the development of our program without mention of a single name. We followed the AA model in this, and I think you approved. No one has mentioned it critically in our discussions of the book.
In this view of our history, we developed organically, with many people playing critical roles. FA became FA because, through the grace of God, there were two people who understood the hope offered by AWOLs and were willing to lead them, though one of those people long ago left program. There was a lawyer who could help us incorporate, a person with long experience at the world service level who could guide us organizationally, there was someone to draft our literature, someone willing to spend hours reproducing and mailing out cassettes of the qualifying tapes. Many, many people had key roles. There were no founders. There were no lines.
I worry for our fellowship and I worry for individual recovery if we do not ground ourselves in our Higher Power, putting our Higher Power first, front, and center. God founded us, using a variety of people. Is it fair to single anyone out as a “founder?” Is it fair to that person? We all have feet of clay. Don’t we have a right – each of us – to expect others to help us keep our canoes flat in the water without getting tipped up and unbalanced by our egos? Do you remember that image in the Twenty-Four Hours A Day book? We owe Cynthia and Anne an amends for our language and for any way in which we might have put them on pedestals. We are grateful to them. We know they did much service. But we also know that they are food addicts, just like we are.
If we do not let go of “lines” and the concept of “founders,” we will continue to focus on personalities, not principles. And isn’t it true that personalities will always divide us, while principles can unite us? Is it not principles upon which we want to stand? The language of “lines” comes partly from the language and concept of “founders.” Can we let this go? No more names. No more founders. FA is here because lots of people made FA, Anne and Cynthia among them.
I ask each of you to think about these issues. What should you do? Given our different experiences, where is our unity? I think our unity lies in the principles that led to our formation:
o The understanding that we are food addicts and that unless we stop using food as a drug, we will die. Therefore, personal recovery must take top priority in our lives.
o The acceptance of clearly defined abstinence as our goal and FA as our way of life.
o The fact that we do the Steps abstinently, thoroughly, and in order, with the guidance of those who have gone before us.
o Our understanding that we must work hard and be open and humble in order to not fall into complacency and denial. If we are in recovery, we are the right weight. If we are not at a healthy weight and are stuck above or below where we should be, we are not in recovery. Period. We do not lie to ourselves or support denial in each other.
o We know that the minute we congratulate ourselves on our humility, we are no longer humble, but we also know that our lives depend on our humility. No one can be a big shot here.
Our lives depend upon our recovery, and we are grounded in FA and its Twelve Steps. We cannot fail and we will not fail. No matter what happens at the organizational level, I will not stop doing my program and passing on the program I was given. I assume that is true for you. So FA will continue, no matter what. But if we do not face these issues that are troubling us, and stand together upon the fundamentals of recovery, FA will never be all that it can be. We will not fail, but our organization will not be all that it might be – we won’t be all that our Higher Power wants us to be.