SOAR 8 Recovery Convention and Business Assembly

The Middle Tennessee Intergroup is hosting the March 2015 SOAR 8 Recovery Convention and Business Assembly in Nashville, TN from March 13 – 15, 2015. The deadline to register is February 10, 2015, and you can register online at soar8mar2015.eventbrite.com (there is a surcharge added when using the online registration website) or by downloading the registration form here and following the directions as enclosed. Continue reading

July 2014: SOAR 8 – Baton Rouge

The SOAR 8 Recovery Convention will be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 11-13, 2014. The convention will be held at the Embassy Suites Baton Rouge. OA needs your service at this event! There are lots of opportunities. If you would like to volunteer at the event, please click here to download the registration form.

You can register to attend the event at http://www.soar8july2014.eventbrite.com. (Please not that a surcharge is added when using this website to register).

Want more information? Visit the SOAR8 website at http://www.oaregion8.org and click on the links in the box called “Next Regional Assembly.” For more information on SOAR 8, please contact Aleta P. at (225) 753-2739 or aph42@att.net. Continue reading

Report from July 2010 SOAR 8

Report from the July 9–11, 2010 SOAR 8
Recovery Convention and Business Assembly
from SOAR Reps Mary Anne and Neill

Executive Summary

Recovery

The theme of the convention was “Twelve Steppin’ in the Big Easy.” The recovery convention sessions were organized around the steps and made festive with theme days. For example on Friday all of the attendees from the local COLA intergroup wore New Orleans Saints colors (black and gold) and on Saturday, they all work Mardi Gras beads and other accessories in the Mardi Gras colors of gold, green, and purple. The Friday night skit was on the theme, “Am I Still Your Sponsor?” while the panel presentation, with three speakers focused on the theme “Without the Steps, OA is just another diet and calories club.” On Sunday morning the 12th Step Within Committee presented one of the OA Road Show skits demonstrating what happens to a meeting when people share their mess instead of the message.

Announcements

  • The 12th Step Within Committee is very interested in ideas about what intergroups do to help spread the recovery message to those in relapse or still struggling.
  • The Ways and Means Committee is interested in fund raising ideas that local IGs have used successfully.
  • The July 2011 SOAR will be in Nashville, TN, July 8-10, at the Holiday Inn Opryland. It will be hosted by the Middle Tennessee Intergroup. Registration will be $40.
  • Everyone is encouraged to attend OA’s 50th Birthday Celebration to be held August 26-29, 2010 in Los Angeles.
  • According to the CRC 7 of the 10 states with the highest rates of obesity are in our SOAR region. Our regional chair announced this to draw our attention to the need to grow OA in our region, to make it available to everyone who wants it. She said emphatically that obesity is not an outside issue.
  • We are trying to increase our service to countries in our region outside of the US. There was a delegate to this assembly from the island nation of Aruba. Our chair and trustee will be conducting a service and traditions workshop and speaking at an assembly in Bogota, Columbia.
  • Responding to a request for more efficient checking of credentials, the board instituted a system in which board members and IG reps showed their badges to the doorkeeper who kept a simple tally and reported that tally for voting purposes. It was more efficient, but the down side was that it didn’t let us know which intergroups, or even how many intergroups were there. We only know that there were 28 reps, 7 funded chairs, and 3 board members as the voting members of the business assembly. This does not count the parliamentarian and the regional trustee who cannot vote..
  • Non controversial motions (i.e. to institute two new forms for transactions with the treasurer) were voted to be placed on a consent agenda. If any one objects to any piece, it cannot be part of the consent agenda. Once a consent agenda has been accepted by the group because there were no objections, the whole content is voted “yes” or “no” with no pro and con speeches and no discussion.
  • The Technology/Website Committee is looking into developing a system in which contributions to SOAR can be made online with PayPal or something similar. This is contingent on finding a process that does not violate the traditions by seeming to endorse an outside enterprise as well as full protection of privacy.
  • In addition to the two new forms on the consent agenda, the Assembly made the following decisions:
    • A section was added to the By-Laws to allow for emergency appointment of nominees to the regional trustee position if there should be no nominations at the fall assembly, or if a vacancy should arise when there is no business assembly before WSBC needs the nominations. There had been no contingency plan for this in the by-laws until this vote.
    • New language for the Soar8 Policies and Procedures Manual (the P&P) was accepted to flesh out descriptions of the Unity in Diversity Committee and the Bylaws/Electronic Documents Committee which were created at the last assembly. New language was not yet accepted for the new Technology/Website committee as that committee is still working on defining its role.
    • An emergency motion passed to move the SOAR8 webmaster position from being a part of the Technology/Website committee to a position in service to the board. Although the current webmaster is a volunteer, the motion was amended to give the board the freedom to hire a non-volunteer webmaster in the future if that should become necessary. Whether or not the webmaster is a volunteer, his or her expenses to attend SOAR assemblies will be paid, but he or she will not vote.
    • Following the resignation of our long-time secretary Joel, an interim secretary was elected to serve through the end of the November assembly when the elections are held.
    • Nominations were taken for board positions. Elections will be held in November.
    • Because only 17% of Region 8 intergroups (10 of 59) were represented at WSBC this year, we can send up to 5 additional delegates from the region. However, in the treasurer’s opinion based on the current budget, we will only be able to afford to send 3. Eleven delegates, including Neill, were nominated from the floor. They must each submit applications to the SOAR8 board by early in September. Voting for delegates will take place at the November election.

Procedural Changes

Business Accomplished


Full Report

Friday night 07-09-10

7:30 pm. Opening Business Meeting

After the traditional opening—serenity prayer, 12 steps, 12 traditions, and the 07-09 reading from For Today—Stephanie (Action is the magic word), our chair, welcomed the representative from an intergroup that had not been represented at SOAR before, the Caribbean island Aruba. She then went on to talk about how even though this was a business meeting, abstinence was the most important thing that any of us were there for. She encouraged us to do whatever we needed to do to maintain our abstinence including asking someone to be a temporary sponsor for the meeting, calling or texting our sponsors back home, and maintaining our regular daily spiritual practices. She distributed “smiles on a stick” and reminded us then, and throughout the meeting of our slogan, “Fun in abstinence!”

She explained our new system of checking in at the door, an experiment in streamlining the meeting by eliminating the intergroup-by-intergroup roll cal that has traditionally started each session and been repeated after every break. IG reps showed their badges to the doorkeeper who kept a simple tally and reported that tally for voting purposes. It was more efficient, but the down side was that it didn’t let us know which intergroups, or even how many intergroups were there. We only know that there were 28 reps, 7 funded chairs, and 3 board members as the voting members of the business assembly. This does not count the parliamentarian and the regional trustee who cannot vote.

The meeting ratified a new agenda that added election on an interim secretary (necessitated by the early resignation of our previous secretary, Joel) and nominations for representatives from SOAR to next year’s World Service Business Conference.

Our vice chair, Gloria (Trust God. Clean House. Help Others.) was ill and unable to attend, but she is getting better and expected to be back at work soon.8

The business meeting concluded with a tutorial on using our website OAregion8.org. One feature that was especially highlighted were our link to the meeting list for the region. Through this connection, if a meeting changes its information on the OA.org website, it will automatically be updated on the SOAR website as well. There is an events calendar to which intergroups can submit their retreats, conferences, and other events, and a message board called the forum which includes, but is not limited to password-protected sections for communication among committee members between assemblies.

8:30 pm COLA Welcome, Skit and

In the skit, performed by the host intergroup, a sponsor checks in with her sponsees, asking them each if she was still their sponsor.  She asked them why they hadn’t been in contact or had stopped working their program.  They all had reasons or excuses for not being in regular contact.  She reassured each one that she was still there for them, but that they needed to stay in touch and work the steps.

The evening’s panel discussion topic was “Without the steps, OA is just a diet and calories club”.  Three people shared their experience, strength, and hope. Highlights from the panel are highlighted under the first name initial of the speaker:

D.  “I did all my eating in private.  I did a lot of dieting in my head.  I avoided interaction with people.  When I came into OA, I wanted to find THE DIET.  I did lots of diets, the cabbage soup diet, 2 shakes and a sensible dinner diet, etc.  I dieted off my weight, but I gained it back.  I smiled on the outside, but I was dying on the inside.  People in OA understood me when no one else could.  I bought all the OA literature and though that I could figure OA out all by myself.  Having a sponsor really helped me.  ‘Keep coming back’ really worked for me!”

A.  “I heard that if your Big Book is falling apart, then you are not.  I have been a compulsive overeater all my life.  I had no emotional skills to deal with life, so I ate.  I gained weight due to a death in my family, 70 pounds over the summer.  I spent my life holding back from experiences due to fear.  All the solutions I found before OA were about diet and calories.  I weighed 263 pounds twice and was alternately anorexic and bulimic in my life.  When I came into OA I found that there was a spiritual solution for my compulsive overeating.  I learned the importance of the fellowship.  I got a sponsor.  I had a calling network.  But I had to work the steps and use the tools.  Then I experienced freedom, freedom from the bondage of food and fear.”

G.  I am abstinent for 17 years with a 100 pound weight loss.  The diet clubs worked for a while, but I would always gain the weight back.  I have a disease that is mental, physical, and spiritual.  All my life, I looked for the book that would show me how to live.  When I joined OA, you (the fellowship) gave me the book, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  As the Doctor’s Opinion states, my body is as abnormal as my mind.  I used to make the refrigerator my God.  When I came into OA, I had borderline diabetes, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and knees that hurt.  My doctor told me that I might not live to be 50.  I went out of his office, prepaid for a year of a well-known diet club.  Then I went to an ice cream store.  I decided that if I might die, I might as well eat some good food before I died.  In OA I found that I had to be food sober from my binge foods.  I work the steps and use the tools.  I make 3 OA phone calls a day.  I do what I need to do each day to be abstinent.

Saturday 07-10-10

8:30 am. Business Meeting Continues

The morning session began with the serenity prayer, reading of the 12 concepts, and the 07-10 entry in Voices of Recovery. To perpetuate Fun in Abstinence, we were introduced to Recovery Bingo. Everyone was given two bingo “cards” with each of the 25 blocks containing a word or phrase such as “Bylaws,” “Meeting,” “Motion,” “Service,” “Serenity,” or “Sponsor.” Any time someone in the meeting used one of the words on either or both of the reps’ cards they would mark off that square. If a player was able to mark off five cells in a row in any direction, he or she was instructed to wait until the current item of business was open and then proceed to the center microphone to call “bingo.” Prizes were given to the first 10 people to get “bingo.” Neither of your reps really liked this game very much because we found it hard to pay attention to the business at hand, take good notes for our report to you, and mark our cards at the same time.

In the Saturday morning meeting, there were 41 voting and 4 non-voting members in the room including the pages from the Memphis group.

After adoption of the standing rules, the concept of a consent agenda was explained. If there are items that are deemed completely non-controversial—in this case the treasurer had proposed the modification of 2 forms that she uses for routine business functions—the chair can seek a consent agenda. For this to occur, the group has to vote unanimously that they have no debate or questions about any item included. If any one objects to any piece, it cannot be part of the consent agenda. Once a consent agenda has been accepted by the group because there were no objections, the whole content is voted “yes” or “no” with no pro and con speeches and no discussion. The two form revisions were accepted as a consent agenda and the agenda was accepted so that no further discussion or voting was required.

Minutes from the March meeting in Memphis were approved.

As is customary, the parliamentarian gave a lesson in procedure. She covered two points—withdrawing a motion and “The Gordian Knot.”

  • Withdrawing a motion. If the chair has not stated the motion, it is the property of the maker of the motion and can be withdrawn. Once the chair has stated the motion, it belongs to the assembly. The chair may ask if there are any objections to the withdrawal. If anyone objects, it is resolved with a straight “yes” or “no” vote.
  • The Gordian Knot (named after the near-legendary action of Alexander the Great). This occurs only when there has become a hopeless tangle (for example many nested amendments and people wanting to withdraw amendments, etc.) and neither the chair or parliamentarian know how to resolve it. It calls for a suspension of the rules which allows all of the action to date to just be set aside and for the group to begin at the beginning. To implement the Gordian Knot requires a 2/3 majority.

Each of the board members was to give a five-minute report. Because neither the vice chair nor the secretary were there, the chair asked for and received permission to extend the time for herself and the regional trustee.

  • The Chair praised COLA for their recovery presentation of the previous night and talked about how the board had attempted to implement suggestions from the March meeting to streamline procedures. This included pre-assigning mentors for green dots (first time reps), the consent agenda (explained above), the elimination of the roll call, and continuing to work toward remote attendance. (Currently, members unable to attend can log in and watch the assembly but they have no mechanism for speaking or voting.) She gave a brief report from WSBC (as did several other board members) and reported that she and our regional trustee (Gerri, trust God and buy broccoli) will go to Bogota, Columbia for a service and traditions workshop and to speak at an assembly there. She also reported that, according to the CRC 7 of the 10 states with the highest rates of obesity are in our SOAR region. She said that this was a call for the need to grow OA in our region, to make sure that it is available to everyone who wants it. When questioned from the floor about whether obesity is an outside issue, she said emphatically that it is not.
  • The Treasurer provided a new  report to update the one provided for the meeting packet as that one had to be produced 30 days before the assembly. She hopes that the November contributions will bring our regional finances into better line with our budget. She asked that if groups want confirmation of their contributions that they include an e-mail address for that purpose. Two technical issues are currently under investigation. One is the pros and cons of enabling groups to make contributions online through an intermediary such as Pay Pal. The other is to make the mandated list of group contributions available on the website, but with some assurance that this information is not available to inappropriate readers.
  • The Trustee, like the Chair, reported on the WSBC. She reiterated that only 17% of the service bodies (primarily intergroups) in Region 8 were represented at WSBC, which permits the region to send up to 5 additional delegates next year, as funding permits. She encouraged everyone to attend OA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles August 26-29 and passed around a sample of the souvenir bookmark issued to celebrate the anniversary. She also stressed the importance of supporting Lifeline—including placing them in doctors’ offices with local meeting information written on the back. She concluded by talking about the importance of carrying the message by example, by maintaining a normal weight.
  • One of the Region 8 delegates also gave a report on WSBC. All 3 reports are carried in full in the most recent issue of the SOAR Newsletter, available on the website. Everyone reporting on WSBC encouraged members to give feedback on the new tool “Plan of Action.”

In addition to the two new forms on the consent agenda, the Assembly made the following decisions:

  • A section was added to the By-Laws to allow for emergency appointment of nominees to the regional trustee position if there should be no nominations at the fall assembly, or if a vacancy should arise when there is no business assembly before WSBC needs the nominations. There had been no contingency plan for this in the by-laws until this vote. (Amending By-Laws requires a majority of ¾ of the votes.)
  • New language for the Soar8 Policies and Procedures Manual (the P&P) was accepted to flesh out descriptions of the Unity in Diversity Committee and the Bylaws/Electronic Documents Committee which were created at the last assembly. New language was not yet accepted for the new Technology/Website committee as that committee is still working on defining its role.
  • A general motion also passed, after an unsuccessful attempt to amend it, to fund the regional Chair to attend the World Service Convention every three years. Under the previous policies and procedures, the chair was funded to attend the required meeting of the regional chairs that takes place at that conference, but not to attend the remainder of the conference.

Lunch

A CD of the lunch speaker has been donated to the intergroup tape library.

2:00 pm. Committees met

Neil is on the 12th Step Within Committee. Mary Anne is on the Electronic Documents and By-Laws Committee.

4:00 pm. Final business meeting

In accordance with the by-laws, the Board had appointed Jane C. to act as secretary for the assembly following Joel’s resignation. However, those by-laws also stipulate that at the first assembly after the resignation, an interim secretary must be elected. A written ballot is used for elections. The winning candidate must receive a majority of the votes. Jane C. and Patty S. were nominated and the election was very close. Because some people abstained (turned in blank ballots), no one received a majority on the first 2 ballots. Finally Jane C. was elected to serve through the next assembly after which the person elected at the regular November elections will begin. Both of the candidates for interim secretary were also nominated for that position.

Gloria (the current vice chair) and Janice S. were nominated from the floor as vice chair. They must submit applications 60 days before the next assembly. As there are two apparently eligible candidates, there will be no nominations from the floor in November.

The Chair and Treasurer are elected on alternate years with the Vice Chair and Secretary so that there is never an entirely new board.

Although, as explained above, SOAR is allowed to send up to 5 delegates to WSBC, the treasurer reported that we would most likely be able to afford to send 3. There were 11 nominations including Neill from our intergroup. All applications must be submitted by early September.

The July 2011 SOAR will be in Nashville, TN, July 8-10, at the Holiday Inn Opreyland. It will be hosted by the Middle Tennessee Intergroup. Registration will be $40.

Two emergency motions were passed. The first was to move the SOAR8 webmaster position from being a part of the Technology/Website committee to a position in service to the board. Although the current webmaster is a volunteer, the motion was amended to give the board the freedom to hire a non-volunteer webmaster in the future if that should become necessary. Whether or not the webmaster is a volunteer, his or her expenses to attend SOAR assemblies will be paid, but he or she will not vote. The second was to give the ways and means committee a budget override of $265.99 to cover the costs of additional fund raising.

Saturday Night

After dinner and an inspiring speaker, the group was entertained by The Double Steppers—a local group of cloggers who clogged in a sort of line dance formation, unlike NC cloggers whose performances are more closely related to square dancing. There was a DJ afterward; but tired from a long day of business, only a handful of us stayed to dance.

Sunday Morning. Recovery Meetings

After morning meditation, the 12th Step Within Committee presented one of the OA Road Show skits demonstrating what happens to a meeting when people share their mess instead of the message. It pointed out how important it was for those people with real recovery (even, or especially when they are in the minority within the meeting) to not only share in meetings but to be available to sponsor and encourage those who may not be seeing or hearing much about the 12 Steps in their current meetings.

Members were encouraged to share what their meetings and intergroups did to carry the message within the fellowship.

The assembly ended with a final inspiring speaker, “I put my hand in yours,” and the Serenity Prayer.

Report from March 2010 SOAR 8

Report from the March 19–21, 2010 SOAR 8
Recovery Convention and Business Assembly
from SOAR Reps Mary Anne and Neill

Executive Summary

Recovery

The theme of the convention was “Walking in Memphis:12 Stepping Away the Blues.” The recovery convention sessions were organized around the steps with popular song titles representing each step or pair of steps. For example, step 1 was represented by “The Thrill is Gone.” step 6 and 7, by “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” and step 11 by “Stairway to Heaven.” Men and women from around the region shared their experience strength and hope with recovery from binge eating, severe obesity, anorexia, and bulimia. It was inspiring to meet at least dozens of ordinary sized people who had once been morbidly obese.

Announcements

  • WSO not only has website templates for intergroups that do not have websites and need help for setting one up, but also has domains available—sub domains of the WSO site—that are free to the intergroups that want to use them for their websites.
  • Although we have been talking for some time about designated downloaders for meetings, WSO is strongly encouraging that each intergroup also have a designated downloader whose job is to download and make limited copies of materials for those members who do not have computer access or skills. The purpose is to save money and make OA more environmentally conscious by increasingly sharing materials over the web, but not to leave anyone out who is not yet able to move to paperless communication.
  • Please promote the following OA publications: The Courier—the OA newsletter by and for the health care professional and A Step Ahead about the WSBC Board, which is basically the best source of information about “what’s going on in OA”—were particularly recommended for downloading.
  • Committees were re-structured to keep the same number of funded standing committees while creating a new Unity in Diversity committee (incorporating the former Young People’s committee into this group which will also address diversity in ethnicity, gender, language, and sexual orientation) and a new “Technology/Web Site” committee, elevated from previous sub-committee status. Although Atiya M.’s Publications Committee is no longer extant, she was unanimously elected to the chair of the new “ Bylaws/Electronic Documents” committee.
  • SOAR will purchase a new laptop computer and appropriate software for use by the SOAR chair.
  • Procedures for electing additional delegates from SOAR to WSBC were clarified
  • Qualifications for members of the SOAR Board were brought into line with WSBC requirements including maintenance of a healthy weight for 1 year before and throughout the term of office.

Business Accomplished

A full day-by-day description of the assembly/convention events follows.

Friday Evening

Early Recovery Workshops

Because the Recovery Convention began at 4:00 pm on Friday and the Business Assembly did not begin until 7:00 pm, we were able to catch the first two workshops. The first focused on asking experienced convention attendees to share about what previous conventions had meant to them and new attendees to share about their hopes for the convention. People shared about the inspiration they had received, their hopes for re-vitalization of their programs, and trusting HP to take care of their fears and remove their character defects so that they could get the most out of the convention.

Some of the highlights from the Step One workshop that followed the opening were:

“My sponsor told me that when I shared about how my life was unmanageable when I first took step one, not to forget to also share about how my life is unmanageable now!”

“Every time my friend recovering from relapse comes back to the meeting, it helps me to stay abstinent.”

“My life is unmanageable by me, but not by my Higher Power.”

Business Assembly: Opening Session

Like our own intergroup meetings, each business session began with the serenity prayer and the reading of the 12 steps, 12 traditions, and 12 concepts. They also included the reading of the day’s page in both For Today and Voices of Recovery.

Following the readings, this session of the business assembly, and all subsequent meetings including returns from lunch and returns from break, began with a roll call of intergroups in which the Region 8 secretary determines the number of people in the room, and the number of eligible voters in the room. Although the count varied from session to session, with 43 eligible voters on Friday night, there were in general 47 voters representing 24 intergroups. There are a total of 56 intergroups in the region (representing 672 affiliated groups), not to mention 126 unaffiliated, registered groups. Thus, 42.9 percent of the intergroups in the region had one or more delegates in attendance at the conference. Three of North Carolina’s five intergroups were represented. (The other two represented were Piedmont and Triad. Western Carolina and Coastal Carolina were not represented.)

The first order of business was a motion to change the order of the agenda presented in the conference packets. In the original schedule, the Region 8 standing committees would meet in the morning and voting on the resolutions before the assembly would come in the afternoon. However, three of the resolutions to be addressed involved the re-structuring of the standing committees. Thus, it would be more productive for the committee meetings to take place after it was clear what, if any, changes would be made to them. The motion passed by voice vote.

Stephanie D., “Action is the magic word,” our regional chair, began by reminding us of the purpose of Region 8: (1) To promote abstinence; (2) To spread the message; (3) To help the compulsive overeater who is still suffering; and (4) to support the intergroups in Region 8. Representatives were then asked to break into small groups to discuss ways in which the assembly could be made more attractive and effective.

Here is a list of suggestions from the group brainstorming. Some of these are things that are already being done; but perhaps the intent is to strengthen these efforts.[Neil, I am sure this is incomplete. I hope that you can fill in from your notes.]

Increase e-mail sponsorship

Maintain a speakers list

Maintain contacts with the unaffiliated groups

Continue the work of Public Information/Public Outreach (PI/PO), 12th Step Within Committee and outreach to young people

Continue funding representatives to SOAR from intergroups/service bodies that cannot afford to send them

Continue funding additional delegates to world service

Region 8 board continue to travel to intergroups for service workshops

Step up program of sponsoring intergroups

Help local intergroups with Assembly and Conventions

Hold strong meetings workshops

Facilitate communication within the region through website and newsletter

Serve as a link between intergroups and WSBC

Well-scripted agendas and committee work are already working well.

Re-organize count of eligible voters by using scanable representative badges and a bar scanner at the entrance to the assembly room to eliminate the need for repeated roll calls.

Begin the assembly packet with an executive summary

Put the new business (motions to come before the floor) in the front.

Send the minutes from the last assembly shortly after that meeting. Do not include it in the packet for the next assembly.

The gimmick in this assembly’s package—to find the words “I love service” on three pages of the packet for the chance to win a prize—was a good way to stimulate people to read the package.

Power strips for tables to permit all who wish to take notes on laptops.

Improve the website with more forums, adding a Frequently Asked Questions page and making it more interactive. Perhaps add a direct link to ask-it-basket.

Provide more scholarships and/or partial scholarships

Support fund raising by intergroups in the region

Support more publicity for OA in the region

Let people volunteer for committees rather than assigning people to committees.

Facilitate committees meeting by telephone with agenda

Increase use of Google groups and other means of sharing work/communicating between assemblies

Develop a “How To” guide for intergroup representatives.

Business Assembly Joins with Recovery Section

After the opening session of the business assembly, both halves joined to watch a skit by the local Greater Memphis Area intergroup in which a skeptical businessman interviewed potential sponsors as if they were applicants for a job in his firm. This amusing piece poked gentle fun at some of the more extreme styles of sponsoring as well as some of the fears and unrealistic expectations of newcomers seeking a sponsor, but it carried a serious message about the need to both sponsor and be sponsored in order to get and keep recovery.

The skit was followed by three speakers on the theme “The Road of Happy Destiny (without Trudging!).”  Each shared moving, sometime funny, sometimes touching stories of their road of daily recovery. Neil recalls the following highlights.

L.: I came into OA in 1991. I joined in college after seeing a sign “OA loves you” at school. I lost my abstinence when my sponsor moved away, as I had made my sponsor my HP. I was in and out of the rooms of OA for 10 years. I moved from a large area with many meetings to an area with few meetings, giving me an excuse not to attend meetings. The closest meeting was over an hour away, and I wasn’t yet willing to “go to any lengths”. Finally, I was tired of being in relapse, and I realized that going to any lengths meant doing service. I became involved in re-establishing the Memphis IG, putting on a SOAR assembly, and becoming a Region 8 committee chair.

R.:When I am asked to do service, I don’t say no. I have done a lot of service at the Region level. Part of my recovery is to give back, and in this way I find a niche. The Road to Recovery is service and that is where I find my path. I started coming to meetings with my fiancee and realized that I belonged in these rooms also. I was eating abstinently as an “unmedicated food addict, OA’s version of a dry drunk. When I went on a trip and started to weigh and measure foods that were not good for me, I realized that I was in trouble. I came back willing to go to any lengths, and began to do service. Service keeps me abstinent. I find jobs that love that are worth me staying abstinent so that I can do the work.

L.: I came into OA in 1989 at 230 pounds. I was disgusted with myself. I had heard some AA stories and said, “that’s me, except I don’t drink. I eat.” I was a real people-pleaser, and stayed abstinent for a while because I didn’t want to disappoint my sponsor. I took a finger full of food after an Easter party, and that led to a relapse. I gained 50 pounds. I had to let go of my ego and tell my sponsor that I had relapsed. I got abstinent again, but gave it away when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and my husband ended up in a coma after a motorcycle accident. I got up to 310 pounds. When I got abstinent again, I decided that I didn’t want to lose it.. I realized that I needed to do service. Service has led me to accepting a SOAR 8 committee chair.

One of Mary Anne’s favorite lines from this sharing was, “The tools will keep you abstinent until you can work the steps.”

Saturday

For first-time, green-dot, delegates, Saturday started with a 7:30 meeting with Gloria, Region 8 Vice Chair and Judy, our parliamentarian. Gloria went over key materials in the “Green Dot Manual” for newcomers to the assembly including a review of their obligations as representatives to SOAR. Judy provided a clear and succinct overview of the process for addressing the meeting and for business as a whole. Most importantly, they provided an opportunity for new delegates to ask questions and receive answers. Green dots were also assigned a mentor to sit beside during the assembly to whom they could ask clarifying questions by using notes.

The full day of the business assembly began at 8:30 with the serenity prayer, readings and roll call, adoption of the standing rules of the assembly, and approval of the minutes from the previous assembly in Tampa.

The parliamentarian gave a brief lesson on the “myth” of the friendly amendment and reviewed procedures for amending motions.

The treasurer’s report (handout available from either of our delegates) included the information that more than $1,000 was raised for the “Walking in Memphis” fund to provide 3 full and 5 partial scholarships to the recovery convention. Board reports were in the packet and were not presented orally to allow more time for business.

Announcements from WSO:

WSO not only has website templates for intergroups that do not have websites and need help for setting one up, but also has domains available—sub domains of the WSO site—that are free to the intergroups that want to use them for their websites.

Although we have been talking for some time about designated downloaders for meetings, WSO is strongly encouraging that each intergroup also have a designated downloader whose job is to download and make limited copies of materials for those members who do not have computer access or skills. The purpose is to save money and make OA more environmentally conscious by increasingly sharing materials over the web, but not to leave anyone out who is not yet able to move to paperless communication.

The Courier—the OA newsletter by and for the health care professional and A Step Ahead about the WSBC Board, which is basically the best source of information about “what’s going on in OA”—were particularly recommended for downloading.

Charles A., our outgoing Regional Trustee gave a brief but powerful farewell message. He said that the most attractive thing about being a trustee was working with 15 other people who were all giving so much of themselves to carry the word. He said “WSBC changed my life.” He also reminded the group of a saying about service which was repeated several times during the weekend, “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.”

Three of the six motions before the assembly were designed together, by the board, to modify the committee structure. The purpose was to create new committees that were needed for new directions in OA without increasing the budget—including the funding of chairs to attend the meeting—by keeping the total number of committees stable. The three motions (original motions 2, 3, and 4), all of which passed, accomplished the following alterations in committees.

  • The committee previously known as “The Publications Committee” (chaired by our own Atiya M.)was renamed “The Bylaws/Electronic Documents Committee,” and the committee previously known as “TheBylaws and Policy and Procedures Committee” will now be under this committee as theBylaws subcommittee and a designated downloader subcommittee will also be formed in addition to the existing subcommittees of the former publications committee. This committee will take the place of the publications committee on the defunding hierarchy. (This refers to the plan in the bylaws that decrees the order in which committees can have funding support removed if the Region falls drastically short of budget.)
  • A new “Technology/Web Site” committee was formed from a previous subcommittee of the now defunct Publications Committee, and assumes the position of the now defunct Bylaws committee in the hierarchy.
  • A new “Unity in Diversity” committee was formed. It replaces the Young People in OA committee in the hierarchy, and “Young People” becomes a subcommittee of the Unity in Diversity committee.

The fourth motion, which passed with substantial amendment from the floor was designed to clarify the procedure by which Region 8 will choose the additional delegates to WSCC it is allowed to fund. (WSBC allows SOAR to send up to 5 additional delegates if fewer than 40 per cent of intergroups in Region 8 sent delegates to the most recent WSBC conference.) The motion’s essential intent was to clarify the procedure for nominating delegates, their qualifications, sending applications directly to the board rather than channeling them through the Intergroup Outreach Committee(IGOR) as had been done previously, and funding them based on the availability of money for this purpose in the SOAR budget. Ratified Region 8 Trustee Nominees will have first priority as delegates because SOAR is already funding their travel to WSBC.

The fifth motion passed  was to buy a laptop and software (based on recommendations and guidance from the new “Technology/Web Site” committee) for use by the Regional Chair. It is necessary for the chair to have capacity in both hardware and software to share documents with the secretary and other officers whose documents she must review.

The sixth motion, which might have been expected to be somewhat controversial, passed easily. That was an amplification of the qualifications for the region 8 board, specifying general qualifications (2 years in fellowship, 2 years of service above the meeting level, attended at lease 2 previous assemblies as a voting member, one year of continuous recovery as evidenced by 1 year of continuous current abstinence, maintenance of a healthy body weight for at least 1 year and “emotional and spiritual growth as a result of incorporating into their lives the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions as a new way of living.” ) The motion goes on to specify that at the time of application the nominees for board member must have worked through all 12 steps, declared themselves as practicing the 12 steps to the best of their ability, committed to the 12 traditions, and aware of and understanding the 12 Concepts of OA Service. It goes on to require a commitment upon election of adherence to the 12 steps, traditions, and concepts; abstinence and maintenance of a healthy body weight through the entire term of office, and compliance with all the terms and provisions of the SOARBylaws. (Each person is to be the judge of his or her own recovery including abstinence and maintenance of a healthy body weight.) The passing of this motion brings the requirements for membership on the SOAR board in line with the requirements for the WSBC Board.

Committee Work

Neil continues to serve on the 12th Step Within Committee. He has submitted his committee report to Intergroup in a separate e-mail.

Mary Anne was assigned to the newly createdBylaws/Electronic Documents Committee. The new committee’s accomplishments at the assembly, as listed in the report from our chair were:

  1. Named by acclimation – Atiya as chair
  2.  Reviewed subcommittees for two merged committees
  3. Assigned committee members to subcommittees
  4. Sander chosen as chair of new subcommittee: Motions: Review & Compliance
  5. Named by acclimation – Kat as vice-chair
  6. Discussed relevance & purpose of newsletter
  7. Brainstormed ideas for subcommittees / responsibilities

Work that will go on between now and the next assembly, again as reported by our chair):

  1. Write subcommittee purposes / responsibilities (each subcommittee chair)
  2. Prepare motions to modify descriptions in P&P for submission prior to next Assembly (each subcommittee chair)
  3. Prepare newsletter (Arik)
  4. Promote Lifeline Rep & Designated Downloader positions to region intergroups (Gertie)
  5. Create/maintain a Lifeline (and possibly designated downloader) display (Gertie)
  6. Review submitted motions in accordance with standard timelines (Sander & Judy)
  7. Assist region secretary with responsibilities (Kat)
  8. Edit and update our committee’s motions, the newsletter and other official region documents as needed (Atiya, Kat & Mary Anne)
  9. Maintain effective communication through e-mail
  10. Promote recovery in region 8 through practicing the principles in all our affairs (all committee members).

Final Assembly Meeting

The Suncoast Intergroup (Tampa Bay) gave the final report from the November assembly including the information that they had netted $5,078.54 which was split between the hosting intergroup and SOAR. This did not include money from boutique, t-shirts, and other fund raisers that go entirely to the hosting group.

The Baton Rouge Intergroup—dressed in green and sporting alligator head gear of various descriptions made their bid for the March 11-13, 2011 Assembly: Serenity on the Bayou: Finding the Road to Recovery.” They showed a Power Point presentation on the beauties of Baton Rouge and tossed plastic alligators to the crowd. The bid was accepted, but a question from the floor asked that they try to bargain with the hotel to have the internet access, for which there is a charge, made complimentary for conference attendees.

The final business was to address 1 procedural motion and 3 budget override motions, all of which passed. The procedural motion was to modify the policy and procedure manual to have all new motions submitted directly to the SOAR 8 secretary. Prior to the motion, the procedure is for motions to go first to theBylaws committee to make sure that they are not in conflict with OA or SOAR bylaws. However, as that committee has been folded into the newBylaws/Electronic Documents Committee as a subcommittee, the new procedural motion will streamline board attention to/review of the motion.

The first budget override motion was for $55 for the former Young People’s committee (now subcommittee) for postage and business envelopes to send out packets to the intergroups. The literature has already been purchased and is ready for mailing. The other two motions were $217.71 to theBylaws/Electronic Documents Committee and $145.53 for printing of the logo design contest flyer. Both of these overrides were necessary to cover expenses that had been incurred in the previous year, but were not billed to SOAR until after January 1.

Recovery Events on Saturday

Both lunch and dinner on Saturday included speakers who told moving stories of recovery from different aspects of our disease. The lunch speaker was a man who had lost over 300 pounds and the dinner speaker was a young woman recovering from bulimia. Both shared the solution they had found in working the steps that had literally given their lives back.

After the dinner speaker, the region presented a gift to outgoing Trustee, Charles A. and announced the winning design from the logo contest—a design of red butterflies and leaves incorporating a list of the countries and US states in the region, produced by our past regional chair, Geri H.

Entertainment was provided by a musical group from the Memphis area (neither Neil nor Mary Anne can remember their name). All of the members are in some 12-Step recovery program and they perform song parodies about the joys of recovery, but also the quirks and foibles of the people we are in the rooms. For example, “The Great Pretender” who always says things are fine even if he or she is slipping; 13th stepping, and the person who “won’t budge” to accept any new ideas.

Sunday

Except for meetings of the Intergroup Chairs and the Board and Funded Chairs, Sunday was entirely dedicated to the recovery side of the meeting.

The 8:00 workshop focused on the promises with a speaker from Mississippi who told of her struggle as a massive binge eater and how each of the promises had come or were coming true for her as an even greater miracle than her recovery from severe obesity to a normal weight.

The second session began with the skit called “The 12-th Step Within Roadshow” which some of you have probably seen. It makes the serious point of the need to reach out to members in relapse or slipping away from the group, and the dire consequences that relapse can have. However, the comedy hit of the skit, according to Mary Anne was our own Neil M., with his hair turbaned in a towel, but his beard clearly visible, playing the sweet, drawling waitress Molly. After the road show, there were short shares from people in the rooms. Everyone who shared, including all three people there from our intergroup, was maintaining a large weight loss and shared on the message we carry and the importance of giving hope to those still waiting for the miracle we have experienced.

The closing session included a plug for the 50th Birthday celebration in Los Angeles in August from our Chair, a powerful story from a Florida woman who shared recovery from relapse despite tragedies in her life and the distribution of chips from multiple years down to a lot of white chips.