NATIONAL SERVICE CONFERENCE REPORT

It was my distinct pleasure and my privilege to attend the 1998 Coda National Service Conference as one of two delegates for the state of Tennessee. This act of service work ran true to form (I learned more about myself and about Coda as I participated). I would like to report to you just a few of the things I learned at the NSC in Houston, TX.

First, I learned that I am definitely not "cured".... I am still codependent. When you have difficulty saying "no," there quickly arises a shortage of available hours in each day. I spent all day on the floor with the other delegates, wrangling out a total of 37 amendments to the by-laws, and approving the budgets for Coda National, CoRe, and World Services.

I then spent most of my nights doing committee work on one of the two national committees of which I am a member. If this sounds like I am complaining, I am not, it was a wonderful experience (but tiring).

The most important thing I learned about myself was that I can still have control issues. In the past, I have done my share of complaining about various board members and other folks in leadership positions of Coda having "control issues."

I was right, they do have control issues and they (the Coda National Board of Trustees) admitted it at the conference in a joint fourth step. As I participated in the process of rewording and voting for or against various amendments, I soon realized that I too was exhibiting some "control issues."

In the five days I was in Houston, I must have worked step ten more times than during the past five months combined. It seemed that every time I turned around, I needed to do another tenth step. I soon began to realize that asking a codependent to bear the responsibility of not only making a decision, but of making decisions that affect all of Coda, virtually guarantees control issues.

The result of this experience is that I no longer expect our Board members to be "perfect," I just expect them to actively work their program (which includes step ten).

Another thing I learned, although it saddens me very much to report, is that there exists a high level of apathy across the United States toward Coda National.

Only twenty states even sent one delegate, and only 36 voting members (including Trustees and Committee Chairs) were present. Also, along the same lines, I learned that seventh tradition donations are not being sent to National by the majority of meetings.

Tennessee has 25 meetings and of those 25 only 8 sent 7th tradition money to National last year (Tennessee Ranked third in the percentage of meetings contributing).

The average percentage of meetings contributing by state was around 10% or less. This 7th tradition money is desperately needed to finance the activities of Coda National (including the activities of the committees such as the literature committee which is now trying to create a great deal of new Coda literature - even a workbook for step study groups).

We don’t notice, on a daily basis, all that we get from Coda National, for instance, where would the meetings be with no literature and no chips and medallions?

I am most sad to report that we approved a budget this year which will require, for the first time, the use of Coda Book sales funds to finance the activities of Coda National.

In the past the profits from the sale of Coda Books has been placed in an interest bearing account and only the interest has been used to fund Coda National beyond that which was funded by 7th tradition donations.

The idea was to not use the profit from book sales for any purpose other than reprinting more books (to ensure that there would always be Coda Books available).

Although most of us agreed that approval of this budget was dangerous, we also felt that the only alternative was to severely curtail the activities of the various committees (such as the literature committee) which may have resulted in a downward spiral that could have led to the demise of Coda.

The obvious answer to avoid this problem next year is to make every attempt to increase the level of 7th tradition donation sent to Coda National.

Finally, I learned that I am truly not alone. This organization (called Coda) goes way beyond the 25 meetings in Tennessee, there are people like me wherever I go throughout the United States and the World.

Lee T.