OA’s Responsibility Pledge states:
"Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this I am responsible.”
Carrying the message to the suffering compulsive overeater is the subject of much literature in OA. When I have been together with several other OA members, we usually have little trouble listing ways to get the message to the public.
One of the easiest is to make sure that there is a listing in all appropriate service listings for my town or county. If there is a change in meeting time or location it can be listed in the newspaper as a “newsworthy” item. If your town or city is the host for a Convention – it is appropriate to announce this in the newspaper.
Available for sale in the OA Bookstore are Public Information Posters – for $6 plus shipping, they send a package of 20 posters. Members only need to add information about local meetings and place them anywhere that allows public posters.
Once people come to the meeting there is the issue of getting them to return. We need to share the HOPE of recovery. It is very appropriate to talk about the numbers when there are newcomers. How long a member has been abstinent; how much weight has been lost and how long have you kept it off – these are great to talk to a new person about. It is also good to talk about the other benefits of recovery – improved relationships and the light in my eyes showing a joy in living.
It is important to talk with newer people or those sitting quietly on the fringes of a meeting at a break, before, or after the meeting. One thing that really helped me early on was that someone called and left me a message one night when I skipped a meeting. I did not return the call, but I went back to the meeting the next week.
When I am hurting, I tend to get quiet and if I go to a meeting I may sit in the back. It is hard when I show up at a meeting and everyone is talking to their friends and no one notices me. I recently saw this happen at a large popular meeting in the city near my town. There was a woman sitting quietly all by herself and no one noticed. I saw this and went over and sat down and talked to her even though it was almost time to start the meeting. The warmth and gratitude she showed me when I did this, convinced me that we need to be reminded of this time and again. I need these reminders and I bet we all need them.
So do the outreach to attract newcomers but don’t forget to make individuals feel welcome whether it is with a change in meeting format or simply in a kind welcoming word or quick outreach call.