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Indy NOW chapter reaches out to new members

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NOW members Gail Folaron and Mary-Elise Haug discuss the items up for auction at the 36th annual NOW conference. Auction proceeds will go towards  NOWs Political Action Committee.
  • Image by Keelee Hurlburt
  • NOW members Gail Folaron and Mary-Elise Haug discuss the items up for auction at the 36th annual NOW conference. Auction proceeds will go towards NOW's Political Action Committee.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) held their 36th annual conference in Indianapolis’ Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, September 25.

The conference, titled ‘Warning: Your Gender Can be Hazardous to Your Health,’ revolved around the controversial issue of increasing the retirement age to 70 and the effects such a change could have on the Social Security system.

NOW national president, Terry O’Neil, served as the guest speaker for the conference and advocated that the proposed change in retirement age “will be devastating.”

O’Neil, 58, became involved with the NOW organization in the early 90’s while searching for an advocacy group in which she could become active.

“I came to my first NOW meeting and it was like, ‘Ah! I’m home,’”she said.

This feeling of recognition and belonging is important to many NOW members and the unity is easy to see in the friendly and relaxed way they interact with each other.

While it’s true the Indianapolis NOW chapter is closely knit, it is also very small. Only 15 people were present at the start of the conference. However, NOW state president Marion Wagner was confident that more members would trickle in as the day progressed.

“People filter in incrementally,” she explained with a grin. “We call it NOW time.”

Although they may not always be punctual, the NOW members are passionate about sharing their message.

“We want to grow,” member Mary-Elise Haug said, “but we have to start with what we’ve got.”

What they’ve got — a brand-new web page design, a Facebook page and one male member who adamantly wished to remain anonymous, may not seem like much — but the women of NOW are not disheartened. In an effort to attract new members from a younger demographic they have started relying on the internet to spread the word.

“We want to get younger members interested in feminism and spark new chapters,” Haug said.

To find a local NOW chapter visit: http://www.now.org/

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