World Service Business Convention Report - 2015
Four hundred sixty-nine members attended from Australia, Canada, China, Taiwan, Great Britain, Israel, Norway, and twenty-eight of the United States.
Business sessions included a general overview of FA’s structure; opening and closing remarks; our treasurer’s report; four motions; acknowledgement of outgoing chairs; election of the 2015-16 World Service Board; highlights from the Maine Chapter, the Western Area Intergroup, the Eastern Area Intergroup, and several WSI committees; and an FA Sharing Session that focused on two topics: “Moving From Fear To Faith,” and “Developing and Maintaining a Spiritual
Connection.” There was also a session called “Passing on the Basics,” by members with 20 years or more of continuous abstinence in FA.
Other events included the recording of four new qualification CDs, a writing workshop for
connection magazine, WSI committee meetings, and the 3rd Annual Mocktail Party and dance.
Details of the four motions that were adopted by the Conference can be found in the Bylaws Committee report on pages 12-15. In summary, they are:
Motion #1 amended the FA World Service Bylaws to now read:
“An FA meeting group is a local association of two or more food addicts who regularly meet together in person to share experience, strength, and hope about recovery from addiction through the Twelve Steps of FA. FA meeting groups are the primary service bodies of FA.”
Motion #2 changed the Meeting Format language to read:
“We ask that you not bring infants and children to the meeting. However, those who have identified themselves as having a problem with food are welcome.”
Motion #3 also involved a Meeting Format language change, adding the following options to the tool of Service:
“….doing whatever needs to be done for FA, including supporting intergroups [and chapters]* [and local service groups]* and attending business meetings …”
Motion #4 created an alternative version of the Sample FA Meeting Format.
You’ll also want to note all the Take Away Items at the end of the Convention Report, especially the document regarding reasons FA Meetings are defined as in-person meetings. You will find these items will be helpful to your group and to your recovery.
One of the most important things learned at the conference was the World Service Board needs to step up our work and our focus to better reach those on the frontier. It became abundantly clear that this organization needs to do a better job making FA and its founding principles more accessible to those who live on the frontier. The 12th Step Committee began acting on this commitment by gathering ideas in their Sunday session of ways to better build a bridge with those on the frontier. The board will go through these ideas and put resources, technology, and time into better reaching those who live in outlying areas. This is a huge opportunity and will be a high priority for the board in the coming year.
· As of the close of the convention, over 11,000 of our FA books had been sold worldwide. In order to continue with projects like the book, and other services to reach the newcomer, members are encouraged to continue to give generously to the 7th Tradition.
- Please mark your calendars: The next WSBC will be held June 3-5, 2016 in Danvers, MA. The next FA Fellowship Convention will be held in the fall of 2016. Stay tuned for details!
On behalf of the Board, I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to every member of this wonderful organization. Together we ensure that our program will continue to be available for every food addict who desires to stop eating addictively. On a personal note, I would like to express sincere appreciation to all the attendees at the convention who were so supportive and patient with me as chair of my first FA Business Convention. I could not have done it without an enormous amount of love and work from so many, many people.
Yours in service, Dave I., WSB Chair
OUR PRIMARY PURPOSE
Practically speaking, the World Service Business Convention fulfills our legal obligation. As an international non-profit organization, we are required, for instance, to meet annually to provide conference members with a financial report and an opportunity to elect board members.
Spiritually speaking, each year’s convention helps us keep FA strong and helps us further our efforts to reach the newcomer. This practice is working. Since our incorporation in 1998, we have grown from less than 100 members then to over 6,000 members now, collectively attending more than 600 meetings worldwide.
It is important to know that structurally, FA is a “bottom- up” service organization. World Service, Inc., or WSI, is here to help reach the newcomer by serving FA as a whole and by supporting intergroups. Intergroups support chapters and meetings, who in turn support the most important entity--the individual FA member. WSI officers, committee chairs, and committee members are not here to exercise power or authority. It is just the opposite. Our role is to humbly serve and support.
To be useful to the overall fellowship, WSI needs some amount of formal organization. This includes a board made up of four officers and nine committee chairs. The specific committees are Bylaws, connection, Convention Planning, Literature, Office, PI, Service Group Support, Traditions Review, and 12th Step. Forty subcommittees support these WSI standing committees.
Six additional committees–finance, personnel, design, inquiry response, board motions review, and book–support the board. Each year, if needed, the resolutions committee and the emergency new business committees are available to support the conference with main motions.
SELECT ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
In concrete terms, during this past year, our fellowship and its committees have:
- Participated in many national conventions
- Increased communication with health professionals
- Increased media coverage
- Maintained WSO
- Responded to dozens of inquiries about meeting health & 12 Traditions
- Continued to produce literature in many languages
- Supported Local Service Groups
- Supported members on the frontier
- Sustained connection
- Purchased www.foodaddicts.com
- Sold over 11,000 copies of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous
Commentary from the WSI chair
The amount of service done in this organization is incredible. Please read this report carefully and you’ll get a glimpse of the enormous work that is being done – to help strengthen each of us in our recovery and help better reach the food addict who still suffers.
A special thank you to Ebony, in her role as Convention Planning Committee chair, who is charged with completing and watching over the many tasks that determine the success of our convention. A big thanks, too, to the entire Convention Planning Committee support team! We owe everyone involved a debt of gratitude for handling so many complex details.
And, to the staff of our World Service Office–Adrienne C, our Office Director, thank you. This organization would simply not run without your dedicated service, wisdom, and amazing attention to so many details. To our Office Manager, Lynne Johnston, who left us to move on to the next chapter of her life this year, thank you so much for your years of service. The Office Committee
will be hiring someone to take Lynne’s place this summer. But Lynne set the bar very high for an office manager. We will miss you, Lynne.
Thank you to all of you for your contributions!
OPENING REMARKS: Vice Chair
Good morning. I am Jamie, a food addict.
Welcome to all of you, for many of you this may be your first FA convention and I want to extend a heartfelt welcome to you in particular, because I still remember my first FA convention 14 years ago. I was just under a year abstinent and I attended because my friends were going and I didn’t want to miss out and also because I had witnessed the early formation of our local Western Area
Intergroup and I didn’t want to miss what I thought might be something of historical significance, the first FA Business convention in Manchester, New Hampshire. I wanted to see and try to understand this program from the ground up and I wanted to be part of this history. I was richly rewarded! I vividly remember attending the World Service Board Committee meetings and
thinking “so this is how it all happens.” I was new, impressionable, and trying to soak it all in. I observed the level of maturity of fellows with long term abstinence and I wondered “would I ever be able to understand the voting process and the issues at hand, much less Robert’s Rules of Order?” Sometimes, I have to say, I still don’t understand those rules of order but I am always so impressed, each time I attend the Business Convention, by how the group conscience works so effectively! Watching this process, I know God is in the room and that we are collectively infused by spiritual principles which motivate us to do service, help us to overcome our differences of opinions, and put the needs of the newcomer and the still suffering food addict first.
Is it a coincidence that today is May 30th and the Thought for the Day in the Twenty-Four Hours a Day book is about service? I don't think so!
I have had the privilege, for the last five years, of chairing the Inquiry Response Committee. This committee was established by the World Service Board and is responsible for handling inquiries made to the FA World Service Board or to the FA World Service Office. On this committee we have had the perspective of being troubleshooters and what we deal with are those issues which are of concern for people in and out of our fellowship. There are often concerns about meetings, about sponsorship and about AWOLs. In answering some of these inquiries we lean heavily on the collective wisdom of our fellowship as expressed in the voice of the conference. We look towards conference approved documents and motions to guide us in our advice. Often times one of our members or one of their sponsees has personally experienced a particular issue and we speak to their experience. One of the recurring issues is regarding meetings and ways in which very well- meaning fellows have tried to change the very basics. Over the course of many years we have seen what works well for us to serve in our primary purpose which is to help the still suffering Food Addict who arrives to the meeting as a newcomer. We have found that the disciplines and the basics of our 90-minute “in person” FA Meeting is what is best for the newcomer and that
is reflected by our unanimous approval of the Meeting Requirement Details by the World Service Conference in June 2011. We are addicts and we need to adhere to the simple disciplines of this program because for us it is our medicine, it is the difference between a life of addiction or one of freedom.
Our phone calls, our connections with others, our quiet time, our connection with God and our honesty, this is what has worked for decades. These fundamentals lead us to honesty, to faith, to God, and then to the letting go of the fears that drove us to addiction. All of these disciplines arise out of our spiritual principles and when we surrender to what has worked we are promised freedom from hunger and addiction.
Three years ago I had an experience which truly taught me that in practicing the basics of our program I will always be carried. My husband and I, while out on a late afternoon walk, were hit by a car. I remember lying under the car and looking at my husband and thinking “oh thank you
God we are alive!!” Only after I got up and out from under the car and did I realize how bad it was; life threatening? No. Life changing? Yes. I looked over at the gruesome scene, my husband’s mangled leg and damaged limbs and I started to get faint. The paramedics arrived and escorted me to the curb so that I wouldn’t faint on top of my husband. I remember sitting there saying the serenity prayer over and over and thanking God over and over that we were alive. The next few months changed our lives in ways I could never have imagined. I had been praying to God, before the accident, for more time with my husband and I had no idea how that prayer would be answered. Wow, did I get a lot of time with him!! I had nightmares for the 2 months that he was bed ridden and they were all about breaking my abstinence. I know that was my sub-conscience telling me how important and precious is my recovery. I had the support of my family, my fellowship, my sponsor and God. Now three years later, thank God, my husband has healed and we have an even sweeter relationship than I ever could have imagined. During this period I continued to go to all of my meetings and to lead my AWOL because they were my anchors, I needed to be with my fellows. I felt so carried by my program of recovery in FA.
I tell you this story because it illustrates how important this program of FA recovery is to me, how it will always give me what I need to sustain through whatever life brings me, what a gift it is and I know that I can keep this precious gift by remaining grateful and by doing service.
When I reflect on my cumulative time in FA, I have to ask myself these questions: has the quality of my life improved since I have joined FA? To that question I can answer a resounding "Yes". I was overweight and consumed with consuming food. Do I stay true to my beliefs especially the ones that I believe are guided by the spiritual principles of this program? Am I holding on to old self- serving and destructive beliefs and unwilling to look at things from different points of view or with an open mind? Do I have freedom from addictive eating and do I continue to make healthy choices for my mind, body and spirit? Every morning when I wake up I can be a force for good and God.
Am I continuing to grow in my spiritual life? Do I actively look for ways to do service and help to improve the lives of others?
We are here this weekend to do service, to make our message clear and accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world. Today we are a healthy organization. Fourteen years later we are a growing and mature fellowship and we have witnessed what works and what doesn’t. We came here this weekend with a shared focus to do service. I presume we all started our day by some kind of communion with God involving prayer, our Twenty Four-Hours a Day reading, our quiet time, we all had an abstinent weighed and measured breakfast and we are all abstinent at this very moment. When we gather together we get to see all the things we have in common. We are all looking healthy, feeling good and ready to do service and God’s will. The differences between us can fade away. Let’s take this feeling of unity that is engendered by our recovery, and let us share with each other what we have together. I hope that what we share in recovery is the primary focus of this weekend. Let’s carry it out the door with us when we leave the convention and throughout the year. The only way we are going to remain healthy and of service is to be grateful, to focus on what we have in common, and to focus on doing service.
TREASURER’S REPORT (Holli N., WSB Treasurer)
FA is financially strong, with an ample reserve and no debt. Donations are up 20% this year. Thank you for your generosity. Your donations have made possible the hiring of a Public Information Contractor, the creation of a Large-Format FA Book, the purchase of the foodaddicts.com url, the beginning of a new medical pamphlet, and a digital subscription to connection magazine.
We are projecting a $25,000 net income for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. Our projected year-end balance for fiscal year 2015 is $316,000, broken down into a prudent reserve of $219,000 and a project reserve of $97,000. At the Business Convention, a mistake was made regarding the project reserve ending balance for the next fiscal year, fiscal year 2016. The project reserve was listed as $2,000, when actually it is projected to be $47,000, with a prudent reserve of $219,000.
Thank you again for your generous support of FA. Your donations help us reach out to suffering food addicts within our fellowship and throughout the world.
PRINCIPLES FOR FA FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- Guiding principles for FA finances: to carry the message
− Concept 12: use prudent financial principles & have “sufficient operating funds, plus an ample reserve”
− Corporate poverty:
- Be self-supporting (Tradition 7)
- Use FA funds wisely (Concept 12)
- Keep focused on our primary purpose (Tradition 6)
- Keep a prudent reserve (Concept 12)
- Pass on extra funds to support more FA work (Tradition 5)
- From your “7th Tradition Pamphlet”
Many thanks to the three retired board members who stepped down after several years of service. We thank Kathleen M., who served as secretary, Kris M., who served as Public Information Chair, and Norma Jean P., who served as Service Group Support Chair. We also thank Jane M., for all of her service as both Literature Chair and Office Chair. Thank you to Margaret H. for stepping into the role of Office Chair in January 2015.
Board Members Running For Second Term:
Linda N., 12th Step Chair Holli N., Treasurer
Jen N., Literature Chair
Newly elected Committee Chairs:
Allison G. ran unopposed for Secretary and was elected to serve a two-year term.
Paul B. ran unopposed for Service Group Support Chair and was elected to serve a two-year term.
Kelly McG. Ran unopposed for Public Information Chair, and was elected to serve a two-year term. Since the convention, Kelly has stepped down from this position, and the new PI Chair will be Annie H. from CA.
2014-2015 World Service Board
Chair: David I., Alberta, Canada
Vice-Chair: Jamie M., CA
Secretary: Allison G., CA
Treasurer: Holli N., NC
Bylaws Committee Chair: Marti M., CA
Service Group Support Committee Chair: Paul B., MA
connection Committee Chair: Adrienne P., CA
Convention Planning Committee Chair: Ebony F., CA
Literature Committee Chair: Jennifer N., MA
Office Committee Chair: Margaret H., NY
Public Information Committee Chair: Annie H., CA
Traditions Review Committee Chair: Dan B., Ontario, Canada
12th Step Committee Chair: Linda N., CA
BYLAWS COMMITTEE - CONVENTION REPORT (Marti M., Chair)
Four motions were presented to the Conference and all were adopted as amended.
Motion #1 amended the FA World Service Bylaws Article IV, Section 1(a) and now reads:
“An FA meeting group is a local association of two or more food addicts who regularly meet together in person to share experience, strength, and hope about recovery from addiction through the Twelve Steps of FA. FA meeting groups are the primary service bodies of FA.”
Motion #2 changed the Meeting Format language on Page 8, number 6 to read:
“We ask that you not bring infants and children to the meeting. However, those who have identified themselves as having a problem with food are welcome.”
Motion #3 also involved a Meeting Format language change in the tool of Service to include:
“….doing whatever needs to be done for FA, including supporting intergroups [and chapters]* [and local service groups]* and attending business meetings …”
With the addition of the footnote “*Any statement included in [ ] is optional”
Motion #4 created an alternative version of the Sample FA Meeting Format to include:
LEADER QUALIFIES: Shares experience, strength, and hope regarding recovery in FA. [Until approximately a.m. /p.m.]
OR for Sharing Meeting: The meeting is now open for sharing from all those with 90 days or more of continuous abstinence in FA who are working with an FA sponsor. We ask that you please refrain from clapping. [Until approximately a.m. /p.m.]
OR for Literature Meeting: During this meeting we will read from selected FA conference- approved literature. Today we will read from . We will all take turns reading. Those who do not wish to read, please say ‘Pass.’ Any member with 90 days or more of continuous abstinence in FA, currently working with an FA sponsor, may raise his or her hand to share [during any part of the reading or]* after the reading is complete. [Until approximately a.m./p.m.]
*Any statement included in [ ] is optional
This paragraph divided out and accepted May 30, 2015:
If reading from Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, please also add the following:
Typically, we refrain from mentioning food by name, but we will read these stories as they are written. We will now begin reading from page . [Until approximately a.m./p.m.]
OR for Tools Meeting: During this meeting we will share on the tools. Any member with 90 days or more of continuous abstinence in FA, currently working with an FA sponsor, is welcome to share. [Until approximately a.m. /p.m.]
MOTION 1: INTRODUCTION ON BEHALF OF WSB (PRESENTED BY DAN B.)
Before this motion goes to the floor for debate, I have been asked by the WSB to review four topics:
- 1) Explain why this motion was brought to the conference this year
- 2) Review of the reasons that FA Meetings Are Defined As In-Person Meetings
- 3) Review how this information will be made more accessible to FA members
- 4) Re-state our commitment to the Frontier
As Marti and Dave explained, this motion is not a referendum on whether “phone meetings” or “phone teleconferences” are good or bad for recovery. It is also not meant to re-start the debate on whether “phone meetings” are a part of the FA recovery program. As Marti stated, YOU, the conference have made it abundantly clear at many times in the past that all FA meetings must be face to face, in person. This is as fundamental a principle as FAs requirement that members have 90 days of abstinence to speak at FA meetings. This is as fundamental as FAs definition of abstinence. These are principles that clearly differentiate our program from many other 12 step programs. The FA conference has clearly indicated that these principles are part of the spiritual basis for our program. The success of our program speaks for itself.
This motion, may, therefore seem redundant. The board and by-laws committees, however, saw a gap that they felt needed to be closed. Although the “requirement” that an FA meeting group must meet in person in a public facility is noted in many places, the board, the FA office and many other Board committees continue to receive regular inquiries pertaining to phone meetings and/or online meetings. It has become apparent that some FA members are still not clear.
In presenting a motion to change the by-laws, the board and by-laws committee believed it to be important to add this principle, with clarity, to the primary FA governance document, the by-laws, so they are consistent with other FA documentation and clear on this topic.
But, even more importantly, this message needs to be accessible to the fellowship so newcomers and other members who were not involved in the discussions on this topic at prior FA Conventions, can find out:
- 1) THAT all FA meetings are “in person” and
- 2) WHY the conference has made this clear multiple times
In your registration packages yesterday you received a one-page document titled “Reasons FA Meetings Are Defined As In-Person Meetings.” You will note that this document was a joint effort of many relevant FA committees.
I expect that some of you diligently reviewed this document along with all the other paperwork provided, in detail, before bed last night. Others may not have done so.
The Board felt it important to ensure that before the motion was put on the floor this morning that the conference (the entire voting members of FA) all have an opportunity to hear a summary of this document.
Notwithstanding the events of this weekend, the FA website will be updated to include the statement. The precise location for posting is yet to be confirmed, but it will be accessible and searchable.
Members looking for a rationale for the requirement that all meetings be “in person” - will soon be able to find this information easily.
The following is a summary of what has been learned from experience with phone and online meetings and about why food addicts seeking recovery are best served by in-person meetings.
Feel free to follow along on the page in your packets:
“The Importance of In-Person Meetings”
Attending and committing to several meetings each week is fundamental to recovery from food addiction.
In-person meetings are essential for the following reasons:
- Food addiction is a disease of isolation. Meeting face-to-face with other recovering food addicts counteracts isolation. Newcomers or shy members who may feel inclined to “hide” will be greeted and gently encouraged to participate. Phone and online meetings do not allow for this connection.
- Recovery is strengthened by showing up. In-person meetings provide, for example, opportunities to share a meal with others before or after a meeting, engage in spontaneous conversations at the break, or work through important issues at monthly business meetings. FA is a program of attraction.
- Recovery is strengthened by doing service. Setting up or putting away chairs, arranging literature on the table, providing assistance with rides to/from meetings for members in need, greeting newcomers, or simply showing up and claiming one’s seat in the room cannot happen remotely.
- Reading and sharing from the front of the room increases humility. Facing the group and introducing ourselves allows us to be seen by others and honestly name ourselves as food addicts.
- Food addicts receive strength from seeing change in others. Physical, mental, and spiritual recovery are difficult to witness over the phone or online. At meetings, members have the opportunity to see the sparkle in each other’s eyes, the tears, the smiles, and the body language. We watch each other attain the “FA glow” that inevitably accompanies FA abstinence.
- FA members can help spot when another member is “off the beam.” A member who consistently arrives late or leaves early, for instance, may need support. Late arrivals or early departures from a phone call can easily go unnoticed. In addition, seeing others at meetings helps food addicts stay honest about weight gains and losses.
The balance of the document has a “frequently asked questions” section dealing mainly with practical ways FA members who live far from meetings, on the frontier, and can join the program, become abstinent and maintain abstinence through the tried and true FA way of life.
As Dave noted, out of the experience of working on Motion 1, the Board, in the coming year, is committed to intensify the focus to address the gap in reaching those on the Frontier that do not have access to meetings.
I, having lived, in two Frontier fellowships, Toronto and Chicago, since 2002, 3 years of which I did not have access to FA meetings, have compassion and empathy for Frontier members. It was a lonely and often difficult time in my recovery, but with substantial effort and resourcefulness (my 1%) and a lot of God’s help, I accessed the limited resources available to the Frontier at the time. With patience, I am grateful to now live among over 100 fellows in FA recovery, in an area with over 10 meetings and an in person AWOL. It is time for the FA fellowship to find ways to reach out to these Frontier members and make it even easier for them to learn about our magical program and feel a part of the worldwide fellowship.
WSB TRC Chair Toronto, ON
HIGHLIGHTS FROM CHAPTERS, INTERGROUPS, AND WSI COMMITTEES
MAINE CHAPTER (Steve A., Chair)
The first FA meeting in Maine started in February 1999. It was a Thursday night meeting at the Unity Church in the town of Windham, a very rural area in the southern part of the state. For some individuals, attending that meeting meant they traveled only an hour or so from home instead of the usual 3 hours it took to drive weekly to Boston area meetings.
The FA Maine Chapter began 3 years later in February 2002, and grew out of the Public Information Committee of that Thursday night meeting. There was a recognized need to build fellowship and to coordinate service opportunities such as the Maine Meeting Directory, the Information Phone Line and Public Outreach events. Efforts also focused on trying to understand the structure of the Chapter, its service role within our fellowship, and inviting others to join in these service opportunities. The goal was to strengthen personal recovery while bringing the message to those who were still struggling. Following the willingness, commitment, and example of those first members, many people in Maine and Southern NH continue to share that message of recovery.
During the spring of 2008, the Maine Chapter—now a collection of members attending the various FA meetings throughout the Maine Chapter area—held the 1st Maine Meeting Support Day. Again, following the example and service of those who have gone before us and with the ongoing support of EAI and FA members from around the world, this idea has become an annual event.
Last month we gathered for our 8th Annual Meeting Support Day. It has become a day-long event that begins with an introduction to the structure of the Chapter, followed by sharing on topics selected by a planning and organizing committee. And for the first time this year it was ended with an FA sharing meeting. This has been a successful event to help us meet our primary goals.
As described on the FA website in the service group support section, the goals of the Maine Chapter and our MSD include: to further the FA program in accordance with the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of FA, to maintain a communication center for Maine Chapter FA groups, to provide unity, and to educate the public about the FA program.
At 22 meetings strong, we continue to live and learn and grow in recovery. Meetings across the Maine Chapter area continue to do important service work to support recovery and to carry the message of FA recovery to the still-suffering food addict. Members throughout the Maine Chapter area come together on a monthly basis (weather permitting) to help meet our goals.
Here are just a few examples of that service and activity:
- FA Book: Members have placed the FA book in over fifty libraries throughout Maine and New Hampshire.
- Phone Line: By dialing our toll free number (1-888-998-5297) callers are able to seek help, gain support and learn about FA recovery. People will find that number on area Meeting Directories, in the phone book, on flyers throughout our communities, and online. Callers speak with FA members with at least two years of abstinence who volunteer a few hours each week to support anyone asking for help and information.
- Advertisements: There are public service announcements being placed in local newspapers and local community papers. Over the winter, meetings have contacted television stations with weather cancellations due to the severe weather conditions that were endured—this increased the public awareness of FA presence and activity.
- Outreach/Service List: Maintaining a statewide listing of FA members willing to do service— among other things—this list has been found useful for identifying individuals to participate on panels for Meeting Information Sessions, to lead meetings and to bring FA Road Trips to meetings seeking additional strength and support.
- 12th Step Meetings: Program members bring FA meetings to the homes of members who cannot attend regular FA meetings.
This is just a small example of what is being done by and through our Maine Chapter meeting membership. Let me be clear. It is through the efforts and service of individual members attending the local area FA meetings by which all of this work takes place. We have a strong belief that the Maine Chapter is really a communication center and a collection of individuals from throughout
the Maine Chapter area, committed to growing and assuring FA exists for anyone interested in recovery from food addiction. In the February 25th meditation in the Twenty Four Hours a Day book, it states: “Faith, fellowship, and service are cures for most of the ills of the world.” I am
grateful to be part of a fellowship of individuals who practice these principles. We have learned that faith and fellowship bring us recovery, service assures we can keep it and that it will be available to others who have yet to find it.
Thank you to all of the members of the Maine Chapter fellowship for your commitment to recovery and to the strength of our program. And thank you all for being here today, and on an ongoing basis, to share your faith, fellowship and service.
EASTERN AREA INTERGROUP (Courtney G., Chair)
Our priority continues to be supporting service outside of the Boston area. Our biggest annual project is the fall regional-service-focused weekend. We had over 150 FA members last November and are scheduled for another gathering November 7-8, 2015.
- As of April 1, 2015, there were 572 registered EAI meetings in six countries. In the U.S., there are registered EAI meetings in the District of Columbia and 23 states. There have been 32 EAI meetings added since April 1, 2014.
- EAI’s territory includes the U.S. states and Canadian provinces East of the Mississippi River, as well as the continents of Europe, South America, and Africa.
- There are six active committees plus a Bylaws Chair and the Region Outreach Chair, who works with our fellowship-facing committees (12th Step, Local Service Group Support, Financial Aid & Resources). These two join our Board meetings.
- o Financial Aid & Resources
- o Local Service Group Support
- o Office Services & Support
- o Public Information
- o Teens & Twenties
- The Local Service Group Support, Public Information, and Teens and Twenties welcome dial-in participants on Intergroup Sunday.
- The Maine Chapter is going strong with an executive team and five committees.
- o Bylaws
- o Office
- o Public Information
- o 12th Step
- o Intergroup Liaison
- In other areas, regional service efforts have shifted away from chapters to local service groups, which require less administrative energy. There are at least eight local service groups meeting on a regular basis, along with other less formal inter-meeting service efforts throughout the region.
- o Washington, DC
- o Central FL
- o Atlanta, GA
- o Charlotte, NC
- o Ithaca, NY
- o Rochester, NY
- o Cleveland, OH
- o Philadelphia, PA
Historically, we’ve had 45-50 intergroup attendees, although the past couple of months it has been hovering around 60. Internally, we have puzzled over whether we need to change in order to attract more people. One reason for this disparity could be different messaging from sponsors.
The March 2014 anniversary meeting was very popular, but we decided not to try and recreate it or to fixate on driving attendance. Our energies are better spent on utilizing the energy of those who DO attend, and helping them maximize the impact of their service efforts, rather than running a constant campaign to get more people in the room.
Service Conference Calls
The Quarterly EAI Call is led in turn by the Vice Chair and the chairs of Chapter & Region Support, Financial Aid & Resources, and 12th Step committees. Four committees—Chapter and Region Support, connection, Public Information, and Teens & Twenties—wish to participate remotely in committee meetings.
- Efficient use of Body Meetings. Shifting our focus from reporting out to engaging with the people in the room. Our committee chairs have taken ownership of leading deep dives, one month at a time, that allow everyone present to get a taste of what it's like to do service within each category.
- o a website and interactive website exploration led by the office committee
- o a mock outreach led by the Teens & Twenties committee
- o a guided tour of public information opportunities by the PI committee
- o a connection writing session for the entire body
- o the enlistment of the general body into meeting support efforts by the 12th step committee
- Greening Intergroup: Use of PowerPoint presentations to broadcast our agenda and other meeting materials, rather than handing around paper.
- We have returned to the practice of creating an attendance sheet, which we email out in advance of the next intergroup along with a draft of the agenda for the next meeting. This sheet indicates who is available to sponsor, although individuals on the list are not making a commitment to be available to sponsor.
WESTERN AREA INTERGROUP (Susan H., Chair)
We’ve been doing much the same as any other year. We help the World Service, PI and 12th Step chairs with media watch, thank-a-thons, and worldwide phone lists. We helped Ebony with the Fellowship Convention in the Bay Area last fall. We continue to staff health fairs when needed and try to stay connected to members who do not come to Intergroup because they live too far away. We do writing sessions for connection and help members with home meetings when they can’t make it because of surgeries. Basically, we get committees together to fill needs for which members want to invest their time.
What is a highlight for me, however, is the commitment and attitude of the large group of food addicts who consistently attend Intergroup on the second Sunday of the month. There are so many of us who see this as a committed meeting, either because we truly enjoy and see the benefits of doing service, or more like me, because my sponsor kept encouraging me to attend, and as a result, doing service by attending and volunteering at IG has become part of my life.
There are many stories in the Big Book that capture how I feel about my journey in FA, and I particularly like when members describe how working the program and doing service helped them in their recovery. I’d like to share an excerpt about one woman’s journey: “I found everything I had ever looked for in Alcoholics Anonymous. I used to thank God for putting A.A. in my life; now I thank A.A. for putting God in my life. I found my tribe, the social architecture that fulfills my every need for camaraderie and conviviality. I learned how to live. When asked how I could find self- esteem, you told me, “by doing worthwhile acts!” You explained the Big Book had no chapters
titled “Into Thinking” or “Into Feeling”—only “Into Action.” I found plenty of opportunity for action in A.A. I could be just as busy and helpful to others as I wanted to be. I was never a “joiner,” but I got deeply involved in A.A. service because you told me if I did, I would never have to drink again. You said as long as I put A.A. first in my life, everything that I put second would be first class. This has proved to be true over and over again. So I continued to put A.A. and God first, and everything I ever lost was returned many times over.”
[From the story “Crossing the River of Denial]
Doing service at Intergroup is a privilege and contributes to the promise of “a life of sane and happy usefulness.”
HIGHLIGHTS FROM WSI COMMITTEES
12th STEP COMMITTEE (Linda N., Chair)
The 12th Step Committee held a meeting on Sunday morning at the 2015 World Service Business Convention. It was very well attended and full of enthusiasm. The focus of that meeting was how to best provide support to those members on the frontier (living more than 100 miles/161 km. from the nearest FA meeting), as well as to those meetings and members in more remote/outlying areas of the FA fellowship.
Members shared their requests for support and their ideas as to what they felt they needed to stay connected to the fellowship as a whole, to work their program and to grow their fellowship. The 12th Step Committee is making it a priority in the coming year to address the issues faced by those working the FA program on the frontier and in outlying areas. The Committee will work diligently to stay in contact with those reaching for support. We ask for
support by those members who can participate in strengthening the already established resources in any way they can. Please see below for further information or contact the WSI 12th Step Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A snapshot of the 12th Step Committee: (support for members and meetings)
- Communications Subcommittee
- o Gratitude in Action - email@example.com
- o Universal Language List - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Frontier Subcommittee
- o Frontier Sponsor List - email@example.com
- o Frontier Phone List - firstname.lastname@example.org
- o Frontier Monthly E-Communication
- Meeting Effectiveness, Safety & Accessibility (MESA)– email@example.com
- o Provides support so that meetings can remain effective, safe & accessible for all members
- Contact us at 12thStep@foodaddicts.org or at the above email addresses.
Why is your service important?
We see the effectiveness of service by Public Information, Weblinks, MediaWatch, and individual members, to get the word out to the still-suffering food addict. Once a food addict makes a decision to join FA, that is when the 12th Step Committee’s role begins and the committee needs your service to keep its resources strong.
Why join the Universal Language List? Language can be isolating. One member joined FA and spoke only French. With no FA meetings in her country, and local AA meetings initially not allowing her to attend, she was limited in her access to FA members to connect with by phone. Her sponsor and one or two French-speaking members on the Universal Language List were her lifelines. The committee is continuously looking for members who have conversational fluency in a language other than English to join the Universal Language List. There are 59 members on it, representing 13 languages. Great way to do service and strengthen this list!
Why join the Frontier Sponsor List? When a new frontier member contacts the World Service Office to get started in the FA program, they receive a copy of this list. It is a crucial time. If there are no meetings in their area, they rely on this list to find a sponsor. It is a vital lifeline to finding a sponsor and it also provides them with those early connections in their recovery—connections with other food addicts who understand.
Why contact MESA? Whether you have just started a new FA meeting or it is a well-established one, MESA meets as needed, and works alongside the Inquiry Response Committee (IRC) and the Traditions Review Committee (TRC) to provide support to meetings & members. Several examples of issues addressed this year include: (1) A member was unable to attend her meeting due to a severe asthma condition which was exacerbated by fragrance. MESA worked with the meeting to help them maintain their autonomy, while supporting the member who was unable to attend her meeting to get the medicine she needed due to the severity of the asthma condition. It all worked out. (2) Several inquiries about a Braille meeting format led to the translation of the meeting format to Braille. This supports visually impaired members in order to keep members involved and doing service at the meeting level. It will soon be available for purchase through the World Service Office.
OFFICE COMMITTEE (Margaret H., Chair)
- Downloadable MP3 files of the FA speaker recordings were made available on the FA website.
- Several styles of retractable banners and a tablecloth with the new FA logo were made available for purchase for PI purposes.
- Meeting subscriptions to connection are now linked to the meeting’s connection rep, so the subscriptions automatically transfer to the new connection rep when there is a change.
- The FA Book was made available for purchase on our website as an eBook.
- Intergroups and the Maine chapter got access to the FA Workspace Project, enabling them to more easily share documents.
- Improvements to the website database, and to the online registration form, made service work at the intergroup and chapter levels easier.
CONVENTION PLANNING COMMITTEE (Ebony F., Chair)
We are excited to announce the following dates and locations for upcoming FA conventions:
FA Fellowship Convention
- Fall, 2016
FA World Service Business Convention
- June 3-5, 2016, Danvers, MA
connection COMMITTEE (Adrienne P., Chair)
- Plans for getting the digital connection up and running on a new connection website are well under way! Stay tuned for more to come by the end of the year.
- connection has remained in the black this past year. Thanks so much for your support, and keep those subscriptions coming in.
- connection is looking for both art and articles to build our archives. Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and check our FA website for all necessary guidelines.
LITERATURE COMMITTEE (Jennifer N., Chair)
- Began selling MP3 audio recordings on FA website June 2014
- Sold 5,576 MP3s and 1,266 CDs (CD sales have decreased by approx. 55/month)
Writing and Editing Subcommittee:
- Completed a draft of “Living Abstinently,” which is a pamphlet about the disciplines/tools of FA, expected to be presented to the conference in 2016
- Completed an informal translation policy that allows literature to be adapted for other languages by local fellowships
- Completed German translation of the “Just For Today” card and “Food Addiction: There is a Solution” pamphlet
In May 2015, it was decided that the Book and Literature Committees should be rolled into one. Beginning in June, the Book Committee will officially roll into the Literature Committee.
Book Committee Update:
- Over 15,000 books sold since we first published two years ago (3,195 this year)
- Book currently in fourth printing, demand is steady and consistent
- Since eBook was introduced six months ago, 437 copies sold
- Large-print FA book prototype has been completed and will be available soon for $18.
- Members placing books in local libraries
- Considering an Audio Book
- Solidify new structure and members of the Literature committee
- Literature Committee will operate with five subcommittees (rather than three)
- Determine costs of translation of book and other literature; develop a process for translation of literature
- Review existing literature and determine need for revision or creation of new literature
- Complete the pamphlet for the medical community
- Work more closely with Design Committee to redesign pamphlets for more consistent look and feel
TRADITIONS REVIEW COMMITTEE (Dan B., Chair)
- The TRC has been charged by the WSI to review and discuss how the Twelve Traditions might guide the consideration of specific issues and concerns raised by individuals, meetings, intergroups, chapters, or the WSB.
- We are a sounding board for the fellowship for meeting level issues.
- The TRC shares the results of our discussions and thoughts with those who have sent inquiries.
- We also report regularly to the general fellowship, when appropriate.
- Members submit their issues by email (email@example.com) which is listed on the “contact us” page of the FA website.
- The committee meets every other month and communicates by email more frequently
- We do our best to get back to members as soon as possible.
Sample Issues This Past Year:
- Commenting on a members ideas to create FA Bumper Stickers
- Meeting Location Will Not Accept Rent or Donation
- Sharing CD Collections Between Meetings
- Convention Old-timer Meeting
- Using 7th Tradition Funds to Make A Holiday Party
- Making Donations to Charity In Lieu Of Rent
- Making a Donation in Addition to Rent as a Holiday Gift for Landlord
Historical Issue Database (TRC Index):
- Total Inquiries Reviewed: 188 (since 2002)
- 52 Inquiries this year – 5x prior annual average
- This is a reflection of the fellowship’s awareness of the resource and our growth.
60% of the inquiries deal with:
- Tradition 11 - Attraction vs. promotion; maintenance of personal anonymity
- Tradition 12 - Anonymity is foundation – principles before personalities
- Tradition 6 - Endorsement of outside enterprise
- Tradition 5 – Primary purpose to carry the message to the still suffering addict
40% of the inquiries deal with the other 8 Traditions.
When not dealing with the issues, our focus has been on finding new ways to make our responses more accessible to the fellowship.
2014/2015 Initiative – Broaden Audience:
- This year we began to publish the most common inquiries in the “Gratitude in Action” newsletter
2015/2016 Initiatives – Education:
- This year we plan to publish a document in response to many inquiries to distinguish between “Anonymity” and “Privacy”
- Simplify Fellowship Accessibility to Historical TRC Inquiries/Responses
PUBLIC INFORMATION COMMITTEE—(Presented by Kris M., outgoing Chair) (Annie H., WSI Public Information Committee Chair, Incoming)
We continue to ask the fellowship to focus on reaching out to their doctors and other health professionals. That is the way newcomers are finding out about FA. You can use the Healthcare Outreach Tool on the FA website as a guide to reach out to doctors. Also, please take an FA book to your appointments so you can give a copy to your doctor.
Mediawatch team sent out over 2,000 emails to healthcare professionals, researchers, journalists etc.
Weblinks and blogwatch team has linked FA to over 70 colleges. FA also has comments on 298 blogs.
The Google AdWords campaign was just launched in April. Our ads appeared 230,000 times and in the first month the number of clicks grew from 2,500-4,800.
The FA Website has over 26,000 visitors each month representing 48 countries.
SERVICE GROUP SUPPORT COMMITTEE—(Presented by Norma Jean, outgoing Chair) (Paul B., SGSC Chair, incoming)
The Service Group Support Committee supports the growth and maintenance of intergroups, chapters, and local service groups. The committee focuses on facilitating world-wide communication between these various groups via bi-monthly phone calls. All who are interested in service are welcome on these calls. The phone number and access code are available on the FA web site by selecting the Service Group Support tab.
Local service groups are developing and growing world-wide. Since the main emphasis is working towards “getting the word out” to the still-suffering food addict, service groups are loosely organized. There is no chair—only a facilitator. There is no secretary—only a note-taker. Both facilitator and note-taker rotate with each meeting. There is no one in charge. There is nothing to distract the group from doing service to reach the newcomer. For guidelines on developing and maintaining a local service group, go to www.foodaddicts.org. Select the Service Group Support tab. Then select Local Service Groups. This document will be updated several times throughout the year. It was last updated in March 2015 and will be updated sometime this summer with additional suggestions.
What have service groups accomplished this year?
- Donated FA books to multiple libraries in at least six states
- Coordinated multiple connection writing workshops
- Helped coordinate information sessions in multiple states. Two states had outstanding turnouts with many new members
- Coordinated non-FA information sessions for doctors’ offices and a recovery conference
- Established toll-free numbers in several areas so newcomers can now speak with someone local when they call to ask about FA
- Facilitated newspaper articles and radio interviews worldwide
- Distributed thousands of trifolds worldwide
- Provided support to smaller meetings—especially in relation to providing available sponsors.
If you have any questions, please contact SGSC@foodaddicts.org.
Concluding Remarks • 2015 Business Convention May 31, 2015 • Danvers, MA
Dave I., WSB Chair
My name is Dave. I’m a food addict.
Before I say anything, I simply want to pause, look out over this amazing group of people, and take a moment of silent gratitude…
From our humble beginning with a mere few hundred members, our fellowship has grown to over 6,000, with nearly 600 meetings registered, in eight counties and 34 states. It’s remarkable, when you stop to think about it, especially when you consider all the different food fads and diets that are vying for people’s attention today.
But even more important than the quantity of our membership is the quality of our individual recoveries….
As I stand here in front of you, my mind goes back to a beautiful Sunday morning nineteen years ago. At that time, however, I could not experience the beauty, the sunlight, or the emergence of a grateful life that I experience with you today. On that spring morning, the drapes were closed. Hung over after a binge the night before, I awoke with a decision to stay in bed all day. “That way,” I told myself, “I wouldn’t eat.” I told my family I had the flu.
An hour later I was up wandering aimlessly through the kitchen in my pajamas. I couldn’t stand myself any longer and, in a state of utter hopelessness, started another despairing day of binging and purging.
Later that night as I lay helplessly in a fetal position on my bedroom floor I thought, “I can’t go on like this.” But I had no idea how to change it. Alone, I abandoned all hope. I fell asleep on the floor, and awoke, engulfed by a tsunami of self-pity. Dried tears covered my unshaven face.
What could possibly drive an intelligent, successful businessman into a hopeless, depressed ball on his bedroom floor? On the outside, everything about my life appeared to be prospering. On the inside I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I was in such unbearable pain—both mentally and physically—that I couldn’t imagine that anything would ever change. I didn’t want to live, and I didn't want to die. My tortured heart was consumed with depression and despairing anguish.
Not long after that Sunday, through a series of miraculous experiences, I was led out of that darkness and into the sunlight of recovery in this program.
I stand here now and see the difference these years in recovery have made. This morning I was up at five am, had a shower and quiet time, read the Twenty Four Hours a Day book, and got myself ready to do something useful in the world. When I stand here, my tormented and addicted past behind me, I feel a presence. I feel a fullness that comes from being a part of something—being connected—something that I sought aimlessly for in food for decades. Food never gave me what I have here. I was stuffed, but I was never full. It is in these rooms that I have learned what enough actually feels like.
Last year, I spoke to one of our members shortly after the business convention. She told me that it was her first convention, and how wonderful it was to see how her small group fit into a larger FA world. She was so grateful to understand the real meaning of terms such as WSB and WSI and WAI and EAI and Chapters, and where our 7th Traditions money goes. She was amazed by all the work that is done in this organization. She then shared that the night she came home from that convention, page 368 was the page in the Big Book that she read:
“I no longer have the sense of impending doom. I no longer wish for death to stare at me in the mirror with loathing. I have come to terms with my Higher Power… I have a full and happy life, with friends and loving family… I have traveled throughout the world… and I have returned to my home group with an extended family that is international in scope, all the members of
which are joined by bonds of shared pain and joy.”
I recently watched a short YouTube video that showed the expression on people’s faces who had been deaf all their lives and through the miracle of technology, were given the gift of hearing. They screamed, they cried, they laughed, their eyes opened—to absolute wonderment and unexplainable, exquisite joy in having been brought out of the silent world of deafness and into the sunlight of sound.
That is how I feel about the work we do here. Certainly we have differences and our difficulties in working together. Without doubt, our character defects surface as we invest in our spiritual family together. But as we prepare to travel back to our homes around the world, I am here to tell you that no satisfaction has been deeper and no joy greater than watching men and women emerge into lives filled with a new purpose and meaning, and above all watch them awaken, in the words the Big Book, “to the sunlight of the spirit.” This forms the substance of what we receive as we remember our singleness of purpose—both individually and collectively—to carry the message to those who still suffer from this horrible disease that is killing so many each day.
However, in the words of Bill W., “as a people who have nearly always learned the hard way, we shall certainly not congratulate ourselves. We shall perceive these assets to be God’s gifts, which have been in part matched by an increasing willingness on our part to find and do His will for us.”
I have three messages for you to reflect upon as you embark on your journeys home.
#1. The strength of our collective unity is dependent on the depth of our individual recovery. The strength in this room is not in the organization. The strength is in our individual, personal recovery. The roots of individual programs must form the foundation of service. Service must emerge out of recovery, not the other way around. Watch for and listen to, in an FA meeting or a phone call or a conversation, what has kept people abstinent for more than 20 years.
Focus and deepen your connection to the program that has kept people out of food for decades and you will strengthen your capacity to serve and be useful—both in these rooms and in the world. The roots are in the recovery, not in the establishment.
Unity is built by recovery. Working the steps. Staying aware of our defects. Keeping the focus on the relationships in our lives on ourselves, and our side of the street. Learning to let go and let God. These are ways that we stay useful to others….
#2. We, as the World Service Board, are here to serve, not mandate. I want to remind you all that this is a bottom-up spiritual organization, not a top-down corporate institution. The 12 Traditions and the 12 Concepts allow us neither to govern nor to rule.
When I came into this program I was broken, damaged, and in need of healing. The healing that followed came from stability. I needed a solid, secure armchair to rest in, a foundation to support and sustain my unmanageable life. I didn’t need an organization that was continually in flux. I needed structure and boundaries around my food and around my meal times. I needed committed meetings with the same format, in the same location, at the same time. I needed regular, consistent, simple disciplines.
When I was newly abstinent I wanted to rewrite the Big Book, and the Twenty Four Hours a Day book, and, while I was at it, I wanted to rewrite the meeting format and the way that meetings were run. I actually wanted to change everything I could about this program. I wanted to change the program because I was afraid of the program. I felt that if I could control the way it was run, then it wouldn’t run me.
I am grateful for a firm and loving sponsor who did not let me to change anything! What I learned was to let go, trust, let God, and observe the results. I learn, and continue to learn, to relax and let the program remain an anchor, a stable foundation for me.
This year has been a year of more change in my life than I’ve ever had since I came into recovery. My brother, as many of you know, continues on his cancer journey. His inoperable brain tumor will take him soon but he continues to hang in there. My mother-in-law is dealing with dementia. My brother-in-law is dealing with the effects of a stroke and a heart attack as a result of food addiction. I have been dealing with some chronic pain. My business continues to be redesigned and transformed. Our youngest daughter graduated from high school, and my oldest daughter, along with my grandson, has started a new, life after a horrible marriage and divorce. I have taken on the position of chair. After working with my sponsor for more than eighteen years, I had to find a new one. And three weeks ago our family dog died…
Today, when I work this program, when I come to meetings, when I make calls, I need stability. I need constancy. I need a foundation to rest on. I need to know that what I have been so generously given will be preserved. For it is in this program I find a bedrock of spiritual nourishment, my wellspring of emotional and mental strength. Many people have shared with me a similar concern. I know I’m not alone in this. All of us in this room have been offered a most precious gift, the fruits of an impossibly good and deeply sufficient life.
Does the program need changing? I think not. As addicts, we are always trying to improve things, make them better. But what makes this program a true anchor in our lives is actually the stability it provides. When I go to meetings, it’s not good for me to wonder if the format is going to be different. I get uptight when the room we are meeting in has been moved! I don't need a revised format or an upgraded, newly improved AWOL. I rely on this program for strength and constancy. All of us who are recovering from addiction need repetition, not continuous improvement. We need permanence. We need stability, not uncertainty. We need an unchanging structure, not an organization that reacts to the whims of desire and impulse.
I believe our focus should be on preserving FA’s foundation that our fellowship rests upon. Too much change is not good for an organization, and particularly an organization where people seek recovery. I’m not closed minded. It isn’t that I don’t think we need to grow and evolve.
But we need to maintain our foundation. With the help of an extremely competent and supportive board, we, as a WSB, will consider and weigh suggestions and responses from the fellowship that will help evolve this organization.
In my mind, there’s a difference between “growth” and “change for change's sake.” Growth means supporting the fellowship to continue to flourish with a continually renewed infrastructure and offerings. Growth is about keeping our website and literature updated, using technology in new ways to get our printed materials, such as the connection magazine and the FA Book in electronic format. I have already stated in this convention that the World Service Board has not done an adequate job of reaching those who are struggling to work this program in the frontier. It will be one of the board’s highest mandates and priorities to change this in the coming year. Technology will help us greatly with this. These changes are healthy and necessary, along with others proposed by various board committees who continue to work to better our outreach to the food addict who still suffers.
The kind of changes I am concerned about deal with changing the fundamentals, the basics of our program, like the meeting format, AWOLs, and the fundamental disciplines of the program that have been passed down over the decades and are woven into the fabric of our history and our recovering lives. We need to keep to the basics. If you aren’t sure what the basics are, ask someone with more than 20 years of abstinence who was around at the inception of FA. The basics are what create a personality change that keeps people abstinent, not just for days or weeks or months or even years, but for decades.
What I am committed to change is myself. I will work hard at changing the way I live, pass on this program, and lead. That’s enough on my plate.
#3. Grow into the discomfort of service. When I was less than a week abstinent I remember starting to feel anxious about one day being a sponsor. “How will I ever be able to have the time—or ability—to sponsor?” I asked myself. “I don’t have time to even get myself together in the morning. How on earth will I have time to take care of anyone else? This program is way too demanding!”
Thankfully, I didn’t have to sponsor anyone in my first week—or even in my first several months. I have learned that we grow into service, just as we grow into recovery. We are not given any service opportunity or challenge or responsibility we are not capable of learning from and responding to. This is as true in life as it is in our recovery. We are given just what we need (even though it may not be what we think we want).
Quiet time was horrible for me at the beginning. I hated sitting still almost as much as I hated eating plain yogurt and cooked vegetables. But now, quiet time is one of the favorite aspects of my program. While cooked vegetables remain the least favorite part of my food plan, I grew into tolerating them. Business meetings have been, over the years, my “cooked vegetables” of the program. Taking service positions in our fellowship can be, at times, hard to swallow, but they are good for us. Dealing with the various personalities at the group and even conference level is not easy. I can only imagine what it would be like to work with me in my fellowship. But learning to make decisions together, to work through our differences, to listen and be heard, are all just so much more rewarding than sitting at home, alone, isolating and safe…
It’s been said that ships are safe in the harbor, but this is not what ships are made for.
I am grateful to take part and to do my part. It’s important that I get out of my house, show up, and engage willingly in helping grow the organization that helped save my life. Nothing I do, or any of us do in the name of service in this fellowship, has to be done perfectly. But let’s, at least, be triers. It’s important—and it’s good—to give back.
I asked my sponsor once, “How many sponsees should I have?” “One more than you’re comfortable with,” she responded.
That’s been a good axiom for me to keep growing—in sponsoring, in service, and, in life. Keep nudging the edges of your comfort zone. It’s good for the soul and it’s good for our recovery.
In conclusion, I offer you a quote from Bill W.
“While I thank God that I was privileged to be an early member of A.A., I honestly wish that the word 'founder' could be eliminated from the A.A. vocabulary… When you get right down to it, everyone who has done any amount of successful Twelfth Step work is bound to be the founder of a new life for [another alcoholic]…”
Bill went on to say, “A.A. was not invented! Its basics were brought to us through the
experience and wisdom of many great friends. We simply borrowed and adapted their ideas.”
We are all founders of a new way of life for those we help. And what all of us being founders really means is that none of us are founders. Instead, we are simply agents bearing the message of experience, strength, and hope. God does the work. And we get to share in the rewards of that work, so long as we remember that God gets the credit for it!
It’s our job to keep showing up – and then relax, let go, and let God do the rest. As Bill Wilson wrote, “let us always love the best in others, and never fear their worst… We come together in our weakness, and grow together in our strength.”
Easy does it, everyone, in your travels home and in the transition back to your families, communities, and friends. Always remember: The problem in front of you is never as great as the power behind you. Be safe, and may God be with you until we meet again.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to serve and grow in this position.
THE FOLLOWING PAGES INCLUDE TAKE-AWAY
ITEMS FOR USE BY FA MEMBERS AS NEEDED. FEEL FREE TO COPY AND DISTRIBUTE THESE WSB APPROVED MATERIALS AT YOUR MEETINGS!
A Call For Service: 12 Ways to Carry the Message
- Call a member on the Frontier Phone List: Ask your WSI contact for a copy
- Add your name to the Frontier Sponsor or Universal Language List: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Support small meetings or qualify at meetings two hours away from the nearest Intergroup
- Submit art & articles to connection at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Subscribe to connection at www.foodaddicts.org
- Read Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous or buy it for others
- Email Media Watch or Health Care Watch if you see or hear news about food addiction, dieting, body image, etc.: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Email Web Links if you see a website where FA could be listed: email@example.com
- Post trifolds in your community: Ask your PI Rep for copies
- Ask your meeting to sponsor a rack
- Bring a letter to your Healthcare Provider and/or Faith Community Leader: Ask your PI Rep for copies
- Live abstinently and ask God for help!
A Call for Service: More Ways Everyone Can Help
Service is a cornerstone of the FA program. Without it, we will perish.
The snapshot below is designed to help each FA members organize his or her service efforts.
Many thanks for all you do!
Need help? Please send all questions and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 781-932-6300
5. REGARDING MEETING RESOURCES AND FELLOWS ON THE FRONTIER
- a) Download an app on your phone in order to make international calls free of
- b) Call a member on the Frontier Phone
- c) Add your name to the Frontier, Sponsor, or Universal Language
- d) Opt in on the website to receive the quarterly email of Gratitude In
- e) Participate in EAI’s monthly meeting (in person or by phone), bi-monthly Contact call, quarterly New Meeting Orientation call, or a “Road Trip.”
- f) Review EAI’s 14-page Resource
- g) Bring the EAI Information Booklet to appropriate
- h) Access the WAI Meeting Partnership
- i) Join the WAI Outlying Area Speaker List.
- j) Support Spanish-speaking
- k) Support small meetings or qualify at meetings two hours
- l) Submit art & articles to connection at email@example.com.
- m) Ask members at your business meeting to commit to sending in a
- n) Subscribe to connection individually or as a
- o) Take on a related service position, including but not limited to:
- List Manager: Universal Language List, Frontier Phone List, Frontier Sponsor List
FA Resource List: 12 Ways to Get the Help You Seek
We as a fellowship have a rich collection of resources offered by our fellowship, for our fellowship.
- Attend monthly business meetings
- Attend monthly Intergroup meetings
- If you are an EAI Contact, participate in EAI’s bi-monthly conference calls.
If you are new to EAI, participate in EAI’s quarterly Orientation conference call.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
- If you are a frontier member, in an outlying area, or have general questions about meeting health,
Contact email@example.com for details
- Participate in bi-monthly connection Rep phone calls
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
- Participate in monthly WSI PI calls
Contact email@example.com for details
- Participate in bi-monthly WSI SGSC calls
(Service Group Support Committee, formerly the CISC)
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
- Refer to "Meeting Guidelines" as needed
- Email the WSI Meeting Effectiveness, Safety and Accessibility (MESA) 12th-step subcommittee for relevant concerns
Contact email@example.com for details
- Email the Inquiry Response Committee (IRC) if you are unsure how to address a concern related to meeting standards and requirements
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details
- Email the Traditions Review Committee (TRC) if you have a concern related to the Twelve Traditions
Contact email@example.com for details
- Ask for help from your sponsor, your fellows, and God!
Meeting guidelines assist members and meetings in their service work and allow us to ask ourselves, “Does this practice support the newcomer?” The current Meeting Guidelines are
categorized into several individual documents. Created by the FA World Service Board, they have been fully vetted by members with long-term recovery and are intended as helpful suggestions.*
Document 1: Meeting Requirements, Standards, Registration and Changes
Please review annually to ensure that no matter where in the world one finds an FA meeting, one can readily recognize and find FA recovery in that room.
Document 2: Meeting Essentials
Please review this document for meeting basics regarding set-up, sharing, cross-talk, religious neutrality, etc.
Document 3: Format Options for FA Meetings
Please read this document to view principles regarding different types of meetings. Specific language is included for announcing sharing meetings, literature meetings, tools meetings, and FA Book meetings.
Document 4: Sample FA Meeting Format
Please print a copy of the Sample FA Meeting Format. The June 2014 version includes several grammatical changes.
Document 5: Suggested Wording For Service Announcements
Please review as needed to help keep meeting announcements to a minimum.
Document 6: Literature, Phone Lists, Speaker CDs
Please review for important principles regarding these resources.
Document 7: Service Positions- Description of Responsibilities
Please review as needed for best practices regarding service positions at meetings. Please print a copy of the Sample FA Meeting Business Agenda. The June 2014 version includes a section entitled, “Meeting Guidelines Review.”
Document 8: From A Traditions Perspective
This is a document that will remain fluid: The Traditions Review Committee (TRC), in conjunction with the WSB, will add to this Document if questions arise that are best viewed through the lens of the Twelve Traditions. Please review and discuss as needed.
[* The 2011 FA World Service Conference developed, voted on, and approved the Meeting Requirements and Standards included in Document 1. They are intended for all registered FA meetings and are therefore not regarded as suggestions.]
REASONS FA MEETINGS ARE DEFINED AS IN-PERSON MEETINGS
In June 2011, the FA World Service Conference developed and adopted the requirements and standards that define an FA meeting. One of these standards is that, in order to register with the FA Office and be listed on the FA website, an FA meeting group must meet in person in a public facility. Despite the World Service Board’s best efforts to disseminate meeting guidelines to the fellowship worldwide, the 12th Step Service Council, Traditions Review Committee, Inquiry Response Committee of the WSB, and the FA Office continue to receive regular inquiries pertaining to phone meetings and/or online meetings. The purpose of this document is to provide a summary, accessible on the FA website, of what we have learned from experience with phone and online meetings and about why food addicts seeking recovery are best served by in-person meetings.
The Importance of In-Person Meetings
Attending and committing to several meetings each week is fundamental to recovery from food addiction.
In-person meetings are essential for the following reasons:
Food addiction is a disease of isolation. Meeting face-to-face with other recovering food addicts counteracts isolation. Newcomers or shy members who may feel inclined to “hide” will be greeted and gently encouraged to participate. Phone and online meetings do not allow for this connection.
Recovery is strengthened by showing up. In-person meetings provide, for example, opportunities to share a meal with others before or after a meeting, engage in spontaneous conversations at the break, or work through important issues at monthly business meetings. FA is a program of attraction.
Recovery is strengthened by doing service. Setting up or putting away chairs, arranging literature on the table, providing assistance with rides to/from meetings for members in need, greeting newcomers, or simply showing up and claiming one’s seat in the room cannot happen remotely.
Reading and sharing from the front of the room increases humility. Facing the group and introducing ourselves allows us to be seen by others and honestly name ourselves as food addicts.
Food addicts receive strength from seeing change in others. Physical, mental, and spiritual recovery are difficult to witness over the phone or online. At meetings, members have the opportunity to see the sparkle in each other’s eyes, the tears, the smiles, and the body language. We watch each other attain the “FA glow” that inevitably accompanies FA abstinence.
FA members can help spot when another member is “off the beam.” A member who consistently arrives late or leaves early, for instance, may need support. Late arrivals or early departures from a phone call can easily go unnoticed. In addition, seeing others at meetings helps food addicts stay honest about weight gains and losses.
Phone or Online Meetings: Addressing Some Concerns
In a spirit of helpfulness, the following list offers some best practices in response to frequently noted concerns expressed by FA members seeking phone or online meetings.
1) How can I attend regular meetings if I live on the frontier, at least 100 miles or 160 kilometers away from the nearest FA meeting?
Individual members will continue to be alone if they stay home to join phone or online meetings. Meeting other addicts at committed AA meetings and sharing about recovery from food addiction with AA members or with other people in their lives may attract others to join FA. When two or three willing members have six months or more of continuous abstinence, they might look toward starting a local FA meeting.
2) What if I am uncomfortable going to A.A.?
Feeling apprehensive about attending a meeting for alcoholics is valid. One may feel like an imposter, be afraid of tarnishing one’s reputation, be confused by hearing about alcohol instead of food, or be misunderstood by family members who dislike the association with “drunks.” With the help of their higher power and fellowship, many frontier members have had success in overcoming these and similar situations. Members have found that they are often accepted and welcomed at A.A. meetings and that anonymity is taken very seriously. Many have found comfort in remembering that FA grew out of the foundation laid by A.A.
3) Attending meetings by phone or online simply makes sense. It supports my needs financially, decreases my stress level, and is more efficient.
Most (if not all) members have full, busy lives. Some may want to avoid “wasted” travel time to and from meetings as well as the cost of travel. They prefer the efficiency of
“meeting” with others on the phone or online from their homes or offices, and sometimes even multitask during these “meetings.” It may help to remember that food addicts in recovery are no longer wasting money on excess food. The money spent to travel to
meetings is an investment in one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Carpooling to meetings reduces costs and increases time spent with other members. If traveling alone, a member can use the drive as a time for quiet connection with his or her Higher Power.
Asking God for help with time management will make it easier to let go of other pressures and dedicate blocks of time to in-person meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous, the Big Book, states, “Half measures availed us nothing.” The benefits to our recovery of fully participating in in-person meetings outweigh the comforts of staying home.
4) I am hundreds of miles from any type of meeting. What can I do?
FA recognizes that physical disability or geography may prevent some food addicts from attending FA meetings in person. In that situation, a food addict should contact the FA Office for assistance in finding a sponsor who will offer daily telephone support. The sponsor will assist the person to diligently work all of the FA “tools of recovery,” including the telephone. Scheduling consistent daily times to initiate phone calls to FA members, committing to weekly calls with experienced FA members, listening to FA qualification CDs/MP3s, and reading FA literature will provide strong messages of recovery. The newest addition to FA literature, the book Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (the “FA book” or the “gray book”), is a particularly comprehensive resource for teaching the FA program as it is practiced. In time, opportunities to start a local meeting will arise, and a strong foundation garnered from the use of the FA tools of recovery will be a valuable asset. At one time or another, many of us have been prevented from attending meetings, in person, due to illness or distance, and we have obtained or maintained abstinence.
For More Information
FA was conceived so that its members could freely practice a program that, in their experience, worked. The meeting requirements and standards encapsulate best practices for FA meetings, garnered from years of experience. The 2011 FA World Service Conference adopted these practices so that no matter where in the world one finds an FA meeting, one can readily recognize and find FA recovery in that room. Again, requiring FA meetings to be held “in person” is among these standards. For more details, see (Document 1).
(This document was developed with input from the following: Traditions Review Committee, Inquiry Response Committee, 12th Step Service Council, FA Office, and the World Service Board.)