I’m Bonnie. I walked into OA rooms on the Friday after Thanksgiving in 1972. They were “stepping up” my mom at her home meeting. I was a teenager then, and I wanted to see what it was all about.

A woman in her early 20s volunteered to work with me if I wanted help. But I was missing the only requirement for OA membership: a desire to stop eating compulsively. I only had a desire to get thin and get out.

Fitting in at OA meetings was difficult. Most of the women I met were married; they had young children and they worked. I was still in college. The OA meeting I started on campus was a miserable failure, but I did lose weight. After that, I started attending a meeting close to my college. (A few women would pick me up and bring me back, which made things easier.) I went to a Big Book meeting, got a Step sponsor, and started working the Steps. My life became easier. I was not obsessing about the food or my abstinence, and I was becoming free.

This OA journey has continued for more than thirty years, with others always in front of me to lead the way. As I made my life choices, someone was always a few steps ahead, showing me what it was like: to be married to a “normal” eater, to be a young mother, to be a divorced single parent, to be able to deal with people in a workplace.

This OA journey has continued for more than thirty years, with others always in front of me to lead the way.

I started thinking about that teenager who walked into a roomful of strangers and about how hard it was then to stay connected—this was long before cell phones, the internet, and videoconferencing. I had to work my program with my first sponsor by mail. Every day from school, I sent my food via postcards and mailed to my sponsor my writings from my journal!

Today, I try to be on the other end of an email, phone call, or virtual meeting, and I go up to young newcomers after meetings to let them know that they’re not alone. I know that more young people who need OA are out there. They are trying to figure out where they fit in a world where everyone is so body-conscious.

I need the hand of OA to always be there. If young people don’t come in, fifty years from now there won’t be an Overeaters Anonymous for my children and grandchildren if they need it. I want to be the hand that says, “Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. Welcome home.”