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Unity Statewide

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The US state of Florida celebrates Unity Day in a special way. For twenty-eight years, we have joined together to hold the annual Florida State Convention of Overeaters Anonymous (FSCOA). The planning committee consists of those intergroups in Florida that choose to participate, sharing in unity to carry the message of recovery in our state. As the FSCOA grew, we changed the date so that we meet on the last weekend in February. On Saturday, we have a speaker who talks about the importance of unity. The talk ends at 2:15 p.m. EST so that we have time to join hands in a huge circle that fills the room. At exactly 2:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. PST), united by our common bond and the program, we say the Serenity Prayer in as many languages as are represented, starting with English. Region Eight includes Central and South America, so we also say the prayer in Spanish and Portuguese. When we have attendees from Canada, we include French. One year, we had a member who spoke German; another year, an Italian member. It is so beautiful to hear the Serenity Prayer in other languages, reinforcing the concept that we are one organization.

The idea for a state convention formed in 1989. A small intergroup, Freedom IG, was considering making a bid to host our Region Eight Recovery Convention and Business Assembly the following year. They reconsidered when they found out that three larger intergroups were also presenting bids. However, since Freedom IG already had contacted a hotel and gotten information about room rates, food, meeting rooms, and more, they thought they could put that information to use by proposing a Florida State Convention. Their objective was to get together with the other seventeen intergroups in Florida for more communication and better unity. They wanted to consolidate different calendars of upcoming events to support each other at marathons, retreats, and workshops. They also wanted to create a support system so if one geographic area was having problems another area could share their strength and experience, and a solution. Public information and member retention were other topics they hoped to address with the other intergroups.

The very first Florida State Convention was held in 1991 in New Port Richey, Florida, from January 25–27. The title was “Florida State Convention for Fun and Unity.” There were eighty attendees with representatives from nine intergroups. On Saturday morning, while the workshops were in session, the intergroup reps met to share ideas, goals, and more. It was a very good beginning. The next year, to increase attendance, the convention was held in the beach town of Clearwater. About one hundred twenty people attended; seven intergroups were represented. Subsequent planning meetings and conventions took place at the approximate geographic center of all participating intergroups to equalize travel time.

The FSCOA did not develop on its own. We received necessary assistance from an OA representative from the state of Tennessee, who helped us organize and set up a rotation of responsibilities for the convention. A former Region Eight board member chaired the planning meetings for two years and shared her experience. Not only did we learn from others, but we also passed it along. In 1999, some OA members from Atlanta were eager to start a Georgia State Convention, and they came to Cocoa Beach to learn how FSCOA worked. We were able to share what we had learned from Tennessee and our own experience.

The Florida State Convention of OA promotes unity, strengthens fellowship, and carries the message of recovery among Florida’s intergroups and OA members. These days, our themes always begin with the phrase, “Together We Can.” This is in perfect consonance with Tradition One: “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity.” How wonderful it is to share our experience, strength, and hope as we stand hand-in-hand in recovery on Unity Day.

— Barbara C., Newberry, Florida USA

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