Hello, From Your New Virtual Services Trustee!!!
In April I was elected your new VST and it is a wonderful gift to have the opportunity to give service with all of you!
I arrived in OA eight years ago, here in Brazil and one day at a time I have continuous abstinence. I keep coming back and my recovery depends on working my program and going to the virtual meetings. I love the virtual hugs that I receive each day when I arrive at virtual meetings!
Since last year I have been trying to experience meetings around the world and it is a pleasure to know that I can recover at a phone meeting in the USA, a WhatsApp meeting in Spain, WeChat in China, and Skype in Tokyo or Ireland! And of course, at my virtual meetings here in Brazil (voice and non-real time meetings using Uberconference, Paltalk and WhatsApp). If I go to the social media I can find thousands of compulsive eaters in recovery through the non-real-time meetings! This is our virtual world in OA today! The virtual help is there to help you and me, if we look for this help!
The 2018 World Service Business Conference was amazing!!!! Both virtual and land-based OA were there (and we need to be together, always together) and everybody wanted to do the best for OA as a whole. We began with a wonderful workshop about both kinds of meetings and how our recovery can happen through the virtual and face to face meetings! We could hear wonderful shares about how OA can bring miracles to our lives, no matter if we can see the faces or not! It does not matter if the hugs are real or virtual. We can recover from our disease through Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous, we can recover using the tools.
On Wednesday we had committee meetings and for the Virtual Services Conference Committee it was one wonderful day!!! We had delegates from North America, South America, Europe and Africa! People with experience from phone, online and land-based meetings who wanted to help virtual OA! We discussed our website—if you didn’t visit yet go there! We discussed and made plans for our newsletter, how to work seventh tradition, podcasts and other projects! We have a new chair, vice chair and lots of other jobs!!!! OA needs and will receive our best.
From Thursday to Saturday in the business meetings we could debate many of the motions that were about OA’s virtual and we had elections too!!! We elected Region trustees, General Service Trustee and the Virtual Service Trustee, the Virtual Services Trustee will serve as the Trustee for the new Virtual Region!
Yes, we will have a Virtual Region! And in other news: our meetings can belong to a virtual intergroup! SO important remember that all changes in the virtual structure will take effect in 2019! Don’t be afraid about this, WSO and everyone will let you know when the changes happen. At this moment we are beginning the work of forming a region at the Virtual Services Committee level and begin to work! In the future your meeting or your intergroup will help our region with seventh tradition contributions and the region will have the ability to plan assemblies and will send delegates to the WSBC! We will have our website and newsletter and will have the same opportunities that land-based meetings have in their regional structure.
As your new Virtual Service Trustee, I am available to help with your questions. I am so happy with our more than 500 virtual meetings, our virtual service boards (and more to come) and because I can give this service not only to the virtual, but to the real world!!!
Keep coming back, it works if you work it!
—Dora P., Virtual Services Trustee
Visit OA Virtual Services Conference Committee Website: http://oavirtualservices.org
Hi, my name is Karen and I’m a compulsive eater. I’m honored to have been elected as Delegate Co-Chair working with our Trustee Dora P. on the 2018 Virtual Services Committee.
This is truly an exciting time creating a new Region for OA that will literally span the globe with members from every continent. I get goose bumps just thinking about all the people who will be connected and able to share their experience, strength and hope.
As a former Technology Manager with 30 years of experience, I’m also getting a little tingle about the practical matters of having a Region because a Region can:
- Collect contributions and have a budget for services and projects that focus on Virtual meetings and intergroups such as a virtual library of speakers, podcasts or materials—the list is growing!
- Create sub-committees to work on special projects—such as Outreach, Diversity, Virtual Conventions, Public Information, Twelfth Step Within, Young Persons and other special needs such as Technology so we can research and recommend ways to hold meetings.
- Be able to create our own region guides and materials focused on Virtual needs
- Host virtual workshops and provide speakers for virtual meeting groups or intergroups.
There are clearly many things we can do together! I feel a sense of energy and connection on this Committee and in the growing Virtual Region that fills me with hope. Join us!
—Karen B., VSCC Delegate Co-Chair
Northern Nevada Sierra Intergroup, USA
Becoming a Region
My program began seven years ago on line because, as a caretaker, I was not free to go to face-to-face meetings. After two years, when I was able to go, I no longer needed the same level of virtual help, but still participate to some extent today because it still supports my ongoing improvement. However, I felt like the virtual world was looked at as “better than nothing.” I don’t believe this was intentional.
However, it became more and more obvious that in addition to those who don’t have access to land-based meetings or are physically unable to travel, there is a generation of young compulsive eaters who function in the virtual world in their everyday life and preferred this method of receiving their recovery. Can we look at it as a gateway to the fellowship found in land-based meetings or the beginning of a unique fellowship in recovery?
Now that the voters at the business conference approved the virtual program having a region of its own, we are on the way to being just like every other aspect of OA—Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this I am responsible. We are not told how to do this but guided to follow the same basic tenets of all the other groups.
The 500 plus unaffiliated groups will have the motivation to gather together into intergroups. The individual members of the virtual meetings are likely to be more interested in contributing to the financial support of this remarkable recovery organization. The virtual groups will be helped to set up ways to contribute both to their region and intergroup, and to OA as a whole so that they can send Delegates and be full partners.
Virtual members can be easily encouraged to purchase literature, especially when it is all available in downloadable form, with which they are familiar. There will always be people like me who love to have a physical book to flip through or read at a quiet moment.
Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a Y in the road, take it.” Well, OA came to a Y and took it, welcoming two diverse ways of working our same program. I am grateful and have renewed hope for the future and power of our organization. Let’s face it, our Higher Power has always been attending our meetings virtually.
—Laurie Y., VSCC Delegate
Orange County IG, CA, USA
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It is the year 2021 and I am at the first OA Virtual Services Region Convention in Dallas Texas. It has been quite a journey, but with the help of our HP, hard work, a lot of love and sharing of ideas here we are. We already have 1505 persons registered. Can you imagine??
It has only been 3 years since the delegates at World Service Business Conference over-whelmingly voted to make Virtual Services a Virtual Service Region.
We literally started from scratch. Thank goodness the Virtual Service Conference Committee (VSCC), who had been working together for over 2 years already had some things in place. They already had a working website, and quarterly newsletter. The committee was working on several exciting goals that would enhance our worldwide recovery.
According to the 2018 WSBC report there already were 9 service boards with 157 affiliated groups. These Boards now that we were a Region would now be called intergroups. There were so many groups unaffiliated with a service board. To encourage all those groups to join our region seemed like a daunting challenge, but again through everyone working together we were able to get in touch with those groups and come together under one umbrella. Of course, no one had to join our region, and everyone did not choose to join, but we encouraged all to join.
There were so many different types of virtual meetings. Many I had never heard of—there were online meetings, WhatsApp, Facebook meetings, hybrid meet-ings, ZOOM meetings to name a few. We elected a chair, cochair, treasurer and secretary, and got reps and alternate reps from each Intergroup. We came up with bylaws and we were up and running within a few short months.
Setting up a manageable, feasible, fair way to funnel monetary contributions from our intergroups to our beloved World Service Office while building our treasury so we could have events such as this one was also difficult. We were able to set up a contribution site to our Virtual Region treasury on our website for groups who were unable to set up a banking system. We were able to send WSO a substantial donation. In fact, donations from Virtual Services to WSO doubled the first full year we used this method. We also used this money to send some delegates to WSBC who would not have been able to go.
I am so thankful for the OA program, and Virtual Services that keep me connected to my Higher Power in an amazing way. I am so excited to be at our Convention. See you all there.
—Evangelyn R., VSCC Delegate
712 VSB of Overeaters Anonymous
Virtual Gains Acceptance
I was thrilled to hear that the new Virtual Region was voted in to existence at the WSBC in April 2018. Of course, now that it exists on paper, we are tasked with bringing it into the real virtual world as a working entity.
It is wonderful that the WSBC entrusted us with creating this new region, which unlike traditional OA regions, does not have a geographic boundary. As such, anyone can be part of our new virtual region. Since the traditional OA structure is member-group-intergroup-region, we have a lot of work to do as a lot of virtual meetings do not belong to intergroups (or VSBs) because there was no reason to form them and a lot of people take the phrase about OA not being organized as a reason not to form an intergroup. Some folks love OA for its lack of hierarchy; and the independence of virtual meetings can help people to recover who might not have access to a face to face meeting or find their local meeting does not meet their needs.
It has been said that if we build it, they will come. So, we are building it and inviting meetings to form or join intergroups to connect with our new region. Unaffiliated meetings can join, but there is strength in numbers and it will certainly be easier for us to stay in touch with a smaller number of intergroups (who can pass info on to their meetings) than to keep in touch with potentially hundreds of individual meetings whose contact people may change without warning.
Thus, we need to do several things between now and the 2019 WSBC (not in order).
- Get our Statement of Purpose done, then create Bylaws.
- Elect officers
- Set up a financial structure (tax-exempt status, bank account, PO Box to receive donation checks)
- Get the word out that we exist and that we can help groups to form or join intergroups to better participate in the OA service structure.
- Encourage donations.
I’m sure there are more that I have forgotten as I write this. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel and with the broad range of experience in the OA virtual world we can find people with the skills and experience we need to get our projects done. Now we just need to do it.
Experience, strength, and hope are what we need, and ask HP for help because we can’t do it alone.
—Jean B., VSCC non-delegate member
Mass Bay Intergroup, USA
Facebook Group Meetings
It’s been amazing to be an eyewitness of OA’s virtual evolution. First a Virtual Trustee, followed by the Virtual Services Conference Committee and now the formation of a Virtual Region. This is exciting stuff. As a Committee member I hope to be of service by seeking out answers to the many questions that arise, and at this year’s WSBC Facebook Groups Meetings became quite the controversial topic. There were those who like them and those who don’t, but most often what I heard was, “I don’t understand.” It is my hope to bring clarity.
Facebook offers several types of virtual spaces, the first being the ‘profile’ and ‘timeline’. This is where your name, photos, friends, posts and likes are stored. Attached to this is your ‘feed’—the place where Facebook algorithms put posts. These are a mix of posts from your friends, pages you have liked, groups you have joined, and of course advertisements. What you see in your feed is determined by your privacy settings. No one can see the things in your feed but you—unless they are looking over your shoulder or signed into your account.
‘Pages’ are like digital bulletin boards pushing out information from businesses to bands—people, places, things and institutions. Overeaters Anonymous has many pages around the world to carry the message.
‘Groups’ are virtual meeting rooms that offer many benefits, but also some risks with regard to anonymity. The goal is to find the sweet spot. There are three types of groups: Public, Closed and Secret.
‘Public Groups’ are very open, having very little privacy much like a room made completely of glass. Anyone can see the group and request to join, they can see who’s in the group and what is posted—even if they are not part of the group.
‘Closed Groups’ offer more privacy. They are rooms with windows. Anyone can see the group and request to join, they can see who’s in the group, but only those who belong to the group can see what’s posted within the group. So, if one of your Facebook friends is searching groups they may see your photo, or as they are skimming through Facebook they might see a suggestion to join the group with your name and photo depending how you’ve set your privacy settings.
‘Secret Groups’ are hidden. Invisible; a room with no windows or doors. No one can see the group, who’s in the group, or what’s posted. Only those on the inside know it exists.
Herein lies the controversy, OA currently has registered not-real-time meetings that operate as ‘Closed Groups’ and some have suggested that they should change the status to ‘Secret’ to protect individual’s anonymity. But each of these autonomous groups have discussed the pros and cons, conducted group conscience meetings and determined they wish to remain visible to be able to carry the message. These groups have newcomers join every day. Remember, if they were to become secret they become invisible and newcomers would not know they exist.
This shifts the burden of responsibility to preserve and respect personal anonymity to the individual. The group and its administrators can only do so much, and they have much to do in preserving a safe group environment by following the Steps, Traditions and Concepts, so how can individual members preserve anonymity?
Adjust privacy settings. Keep in mind that privacy settings are a bit like a curtain on the window of that room, and all other Facebook spaces too. Unfortunately, at this time you cannot have different settings for individual spaces, so you must decide how open or hidden you wish to be.
Profile pictures. If you are uncomfortable with being visually recognized and associated with a group then you need not use your face as your profile picture. Your profile picture is always public, but it does not need to be a picture of you. Many people use photos of flowers, pets, and more as long as it’s a copyright free image.
Don’t make a fake profile. This has been suggested by some, and though this might seem like the perfect solution, Overeaters Anonymous cannot and will not suggest that our members break Facebook’s policies, and Facebook conducts audits to the system and can without warning delete fake profiles.
Ultimately, you must decide your comfort level and how open you wish to be—in both your daily life and in the virtual world. It seems it would be best if we have two types of Facebook Group Meetings to accommodate the comfort levels of all. ‘Closed Groups’ for those who are more open with their program and focused on carrying the message, and ‘Secret Groups’ for those who feel they need a more cloistered environment. ‘Closed Groups’ are much like an open face to face meeting, where ‘Secret Groups’ are like closed meetings. We seem to have a need for both, and I look forward to that coming day.
Today’s technology has opened the world in a new way, and with that comes new risks and responsibilities, but truly, the risk has always been with us. There are many accounts in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous where using the phone was referenced. In those days when making a call an operator connected the line and could easily listen to the conversation, and don’t forget the days of party-lines where neighbors could easily listen to conversations. Even face to face meetings have signs, windows and open doors through which outsiders can peer.
Carrying the message is risky business, so we each need to find our sweet spot.
—Dawn K., VSCC Delegate
Central Florida Intergroup, USA
Carrying the Message
I cannot keep it unless I give it away. Those were the words I heard repeatedly as I kept coming to meetings and working the Steps. Carrying the message—service. Step Twelve. And one of the ways I can do this is through my action in helping to build the Virtual Region. What an exciting opportunity I am blessed to be a part of! My personal journey has been inspired by the message being carried to me as I trudge this road of happy destiny. And it has come full circle. I live in an area which is rich with face-to-face meetings. I can choose from over 50 to attend within minutes from my home. However, some communities are not this fortunate. Several years ago, our intergroup proudly hosted the World Service Convention and I had an opportunity to meet a woman who came from a rural community. She shared with me that she would need to drive over an hour to get to a meeting, so she relied on virtual meetings. In my mind I had been very opposed to virtual meetings because I lived with the adage of “suit up and show up”. However, that conversation planted a seed. She carried the message. She helped to open my mind to the necessity and benefits of virtual meetings for those who still suffer.
Recently I attended the OA Birthday Bash in Los Angeles and one virtual group was passing out business cards for a phone meeting of which I happen to be a member. Later that week I visited a physically challenged friend who had not been to a meeting for several years. I handed her a business card and she immediately began participating in that daily meeting. Someone carried the message to me—and I will happily continue to carry it to others.
2018 OA Phone Marathons
712-432-5200 Pin: 4285115#
No abstinence requirement to serve as a moderator
Wednesday, July 4
Abstinence Equals Independence
Saturday, August 18
This is a “WE” program not an “I”
Monday, September 3
We Cannot Rest on Our Laurels
Monday, September 10
The Beginning of a Spiritual Awakening
Wednesday, September 19
Monday, October 8
Columbus Day / Native American Day
Keep Coming Back
Wednesday, October 31
Removing the Masks of Fear,
Resentments, Dishonesty, and Self Centeredness
When I first came into Overeaters Anonymous it was through online meetings. A relative introduced me to the online meetings which she was going to at the time. I didn’t know about other forms of virtual meetings. As I continued going to meetings I began to hear online how meetings needed to be able to either join an already existing region or have their own.
As I became involved with service work at the Virtual Service Board level I learned that if Overeaters Anonymous would recognize virtual meetings as a part of their structure we would have support just like the face to face meetings have with their intergroups and regions. We could be a part of WSBC each year with the other region chairs. To see this happening was a big part of my recovery and my service work. I went so far as to put on the agenda for the WSBC a proposal to form our own region. I was at WSBC as a delegate that year. As it turned out I actually spoke against the proposal after talking to several delegates. I did this for various reasons. Later I learned from our new Virtual Services Trustee that there were many forms of virtual meetings such as, phone meetings. After several years in Overeaters Anonymous this was news to me.
In a few short years I have watched the virtual world of Overeaters Anonymous blossom very quickly. Today we have our own Trustee, our own Virtual Service Conference Committee, and now we are becoming a Region. I cannot even imagine what building a region will look like because I don’t go to face to face meetings. There aren’t any in my area. I have never experienced that part of the structure. The growth of the virtual world has been very exciting to me. I have gone from online meetings where I didn’t feel part of the organization and very alone to being recognized as a formidable future to help the still suffering Compulsive Overeater.
I look forward to being an integral part of making this new region a long-needed reality. Fifty years down the road the Virtual Region will be as well-known as the other Ten Regions are today. I am so happy to be a part of making this region happen.
—Judy K.,12step4coes VSB
(soon to be an actual intergroup)
The initiative taken last year (2017) by the Region 9 World Service Delegates to start OA WhatsApp Meetings has been a great success and an excellent way to carry the OA message to Compulsive Eaters all over the world.
What differentiates these WhatsApp Meetings from many other WhatsApp meetings is that they are run according to strict OA guidelines with a structured format that is updated each week. Each meeting is managed by three to four admins who work in the background monitoring the meeting and assisting the meeting participants when necessary. In this way they can monitor rogue posts, cross-talk and copyright infringements etc.
The R9 WhatsApp meetings have also formed a Group Conscience Committee (GCC), which acts as both the group conscience of the combined meetings, and as their intergroup. Voting membership of the GCC is comprised of 10 members from across the member WhatsApp meetings, plus one admin from each member meeting. The Region 9 GCC meetings take place every 3-4 weeks and last for 48 hours – during the first 24hrs, topics are discussed and debated, and during the second 24hours, voting on the issues takes place. The R9 GCC currently has four-member meetings, all of which are registered on oa.org, but (for now) are not affiliated with any Service Board.
OA members from all over the world are welcome. At present we have members from over 30 countries in Region 9, as well as from Australia, Singapore, Japan, China, and the USA, to name but a few. A wonderful melting pot of diversity.
“These meetings have done wonders for my recovery – especially as I have no face to face meetings in my area. I have made wonderful and meaningful contacts from all over the world. There are strong OA messages of recovery in the meetings and one can even request a sponsor or offer to sponsor too. What a refreshing and new dynamic this has brought to the way I now work my program.”—Anonymous
At present there are 4 weekly meetings in English and a new Big Book Study Group will starting in early July. There is a French language meeting too. In the English meetings members are encouraged to share, read the steps and traditions and say the prayers, in their own language too.
The meetings run for 24 hours. Usually the meeting has a lead share, who chooses the topic and shares for between 5–15 minutes – either by a voice recording or typed text. The lead share will often refer to, and/or read from, OA approved literature. The meeting is then open for sharing by the participants—either 3–5minute voice shares, or text shares. Members have 24 hours in which to post their shares, although they may read and listen to shares throughout the week. We do encourage participation but many just enjoy reading and listening to the shares too. Announcements regarding the 7th tradition contributions are posted in each meeting, and members send their contributions through PayPal.
The Region 9 WhatsApp meetings also adhere to new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) (privacy laws) in EU and UK, helping to protect everyone’s anonymity.
If you would like to join one of our Region 9 WhatsApp meetings follow this link and send a WhatsApp message to the contact person.
—Travice, Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA
Admin for Region 9 WhatsApp Meetings
And About Copyrights?
We do need to talk about this!
At the virtual meetings members always ask questions about reprinting literature for meetings and it is important to remember that we can’t reprint or record OA literature at a meeting.
This year a motion about this was voted at the WSBC 2018 and the group conscience of the world Fellowship of OA, as expressed by the delegates to the 2018 World Service Business Conference, understood the seriousness of OA’s need to protect its copyright and its message as presented in our OA-approved literature. A New Business Proposal “to eliminate the restrictions to share parts of the book For Today” was soundly defeated.
All OA Conference-approved and Board-approved literature is copyrighted by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. The same applies to reprinting (or photographing) OA literature for use in social media!
When OA’s literature is reprinted in a digital medium, such as a website or social site, that literature (unintentionally) enters into public use, and it is almost impossible to stop others from reposting it without permission. This has a direct impact on OA’s ability to be self-supporting and to provide world services, such as oa.org, Find-a-Meeting, new literature development, translations support, World Service Business Conference, and more.
Some guidelines for using OA literature at digital media platforms:
- Keep the excerpt short, in proportion to what you’re extracting from. Use the minimum necessary in your post.
- Do not, in effect, reprint an entire OA publication in short excerpts, over time. (for example, one page at a time—after 365 days we have a book like For Today or Voices of Recovery)
- Do ask for permission and this guideline can help you:
- Other helpful guidelines:
- In social media never forget to add: “Excerpted from [name of OA literature], © Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. All rights reserved.”
Everything that we have on the website OA.org you can pass ahead! Our website is wonderful and have lots of material that can help the newcomer! You can send them to this page:
—Dora P., Virtual Region Trustee
OA VIRTUAL INTERGROUPS
|VSB NAME & NUMBER||WEBPAGE & E-MAIL||ADDRESS||LANGUAGE|
|http://www.oa12step4coes.org||100 Campus Ave #424
Lewiston, ME 04240 USA
|OA HOW Two Hour Format
Phone Meeting VSB (#9979)
|http://oahowmeetings.squarespace.com||-No Mailing Info-
Seattle, WA USA
|Spiritual Fitness &
Serenity VSB (#9980)
|www.spiritualfitnessandserenity-oa.com||PO Box 1073
Huntington Beach, CA 92647 USA
|Cra 85a No 47dd-49 Edifico Torre Ibiza-Codigo Postal 050033
|Global Online VSB
2381 Zoeterwoude NE, Netherlands
|CCA Online VSB
|www.ccaonline.com.br||Rua Conselheiro Moreira De Barros,
159 Sala 36
Taubate, 12010-080 Brazil
|712 VSB of Overeaters
|http://oaphonemeetings.org||3328 Highland Ln
Fairfax, VA 22031 USA
|Ebony OA VSB
|C/O V Lee 320 Forrest Pkwy
Crestview, FL 32539 USA
The OA Responsibility Pledge: “Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this, I am responsible