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Newcomer Welcome Team

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Finally, my schedule allows me to go to the best meeting in town. I’m about to browse the literature table when I see a large man, with matted hair on his head and a bush of frowzy facial hair, standing just inside the meeting room. Today’s weather is sunny and bright, but he is buttoned up in a bulky, full-length raincoat.

Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion . . . He is assessing the room and eyeing the exit, clearly contemplating a retreat, so I make a move and walk up to him. “Hi, my name is Diana. I’m a compulsive overeater. Is this your first OA meeting?”

He answers, “Yes,” but does not tell me his name.

“Would you like a Newcomer Packet? Come with me.” I’m really not asking him a question. He accompanies me to the literature table. I scoop up a Newcomer Packet and dig through it to find our intergroup’s meeting list.

“We suggest going to six meetings in the next two weeks so you can see if OA is for you. Each meeting is different, and you can find the ones that feel right,” I say.

I recommend a men’s meeting, and then another OA member, a long-time buddy, discerns that we can double-team this newcomer. He says, “Anyone can go to any meeting on that list, but yes, it really is a good idea to get to a men’s meeting. The Wednesday men’s meeting is great. I’ll be there.”

Our meeting begins. We have three anniversary celebrants, each with a minimum of one year of current, continuous abstinence, and that means forty minutes of solid recovery stories. The leader asks whether anyone new would like to introduce themselves by first name only. I turn around to give the newcomer an encouraging nod. He raises his hand. “Hi, my name is _____.” The room rings with a chorus of voices: “Hi, _____! Welcome!”

The last token handed out at this meeting is the welcome coin. I catch the newcomer’s eye, and tilt my head in the direction of the front of the room, encouraging him to accept the coin. He does. The leader asks whether he would like a welcome hug. He accepts.

We conclude with the Serenity Prayer. I collect my things and head outside into a glorious day. Before I go, I want to locate the newcomer to say good-bye. Then I see my OA buddy and the newcomer barreling out the door. They are talking and heading for the curb. My buddy waves down a cab, and the newcomer gets in. They ride downtown together. . . . for this, I am responsible.

—Diana G., New York, New York

Editor’s Note: OA’s 2016 Strategic Plan includes a focus on the Responsibility Pledge. Region chairs and members of the Board of Trustees are contributing one article per issue on this theme.

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