JeanMarie first learned about NAAFA from a newsmagazine TV show. Shortly after she saw a piece about the National NAAFA Convention and started seeing NAAFA's ads in BBW and Dimensions magazines. Her first NAAFA event was a weekend event the Washington State Chapter held in 1998. Later that year JeanMarie attended the National Convention in Los Angeles, California. She found her first NAAFA convention a "mind-blowing experience". It was there in the "fat community" of these NAAFA events that JeanMarie "felt for the first time in my life, I was home".
JeanMarie was born in New York and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in her youth. JeanMarie received her BS/BA in degree marketing from the University of Denver. While attending DU JeanMarie became attached to the community and decided to make it her home. This March will be her ten-year anniversary at Oppenheimer Funds, where she currently works as a Technical Writer.
Her interests include needlework and arts and crafts, but she doesn't do much of it anymore. She enjoys movies and reading but her true love is writing. JeanMarie recently had a poem published in a book of poetry compiled by the Northern Ohio NAAFA Chapter. Some of her other works related to size acceptance have been published in our newsletter, The Colorado Women's News, and Dimensions magazine. She has also won a short story contest from an online women's magazine called "Uppity Woman". Along with being the president of RMNAAFA in 1999, JeanMarie was our first newsletter editor.
JeanMarie has also been very active with Colorado Youth at Risk (CYAR). CYAR is a non-profit organization, which provides mentors for at risk teenagers. JeanMarie mentored a young women in 1995/96 and since then has been active doing production work for CYAR. She says her weight was never an issue with any of the kids. What mattered to them was showing up and not giving up. JeanMarie states that "volunteering in this program is emotionally, mentally, and physically difficult. But it was, without a doubt, the most rewarding experience of my life". She goes on to say, "If there is a person out there who wants to give back to their community but is afraid to because of his/her weight, don't let it stop you! Talk to me first!" JeanMarie is a good example of getting out there and making things happen. She has done it with NAAFA and she has done it with CYAR.
What JeanMarie has gained from her involvement with NAAFA have been new friends, traveling to four new cities for NAAFA events, and more opportunities to dance (JeanMarie really does enjoy mixing it up out on the dance floor). Beyond that she cites having gained more self-confidence, and a higher self-worth quotient. "I know that my worth as a human being has nothing to do with my dress size. I no longer put up with the such a pretty face mentality."
We have much to thank JeanMarie for. It was her effort that got this chapter back on its feet. She has been there with RMNAAFA through thick and (sorry I have to use the "T" word) thin of it. It is fitting that on our two-year anniversary we look to JeanMarie with heart felt thanks for all she has given to make this chapter what it is today.
The Member Spotlight column is the work of Patti Kelly.
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