(l to r, standing) Barbara Love, Editor "Feminists Who Changed America - 1963-1975", Jessica Osias; (seated), booth attendants Jacqueline Steingold, Elaine Franklin. photo: Grace Welch

On May 12, 2007, Mid-Suffolk Chapter of NOW on Long Island held its second annual Yoga Workshop Fundraiser. We met to raise funds to send a college student to represent our chapter at National's Young Feminist Leadership Institute July 12-15, 2007.

The fundraiser was highly successful; we brought in $950, ample to cover Jessica Osias's all-expense-paid trip to Detroit, where Jessica, a sophomore and Women's Studies major at SUNY Stony Brook, attended her first NOW conference.

College students from across the country attended workshops such as "Because We're Still Not Equal." They learned what economic justice really means; they learned the difference between reproductive rights and reproductive justice. Male and female students were able to develop alliances and coalitions involving civil rights, religious, labor and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender issues, as well as and other groups as participants shared their experiences in the field.

Emphasis on establishing NOW chapters on campus was reinforced by case histories of successes in this area, developing action networks, finding mentors and handling questions of credibility despite one's youth.

The final two workshops were devoted to "Running for Public Office" led by young women who have done it! With the high spirits and enthusiasm only a National NOW Conference can give young members, all were encouraged to go out into the world and put their new knowledge to work for progressive causes.

Grace Ripa Welch
Co-president Mid-Suffolk NOW
National Board Member VFA

Report from Jessica Osias

This year at the national NOW conference held in Detroit, Michigan, they had a special program called Young Feminist Leadership Institute. I was lucky enough to attend this amazing

Jessica Osias

weekend and experience a world like no other. I got to meet some of the most interesting, intelligent and friendly people, from young women still in high school to women who made a difference during the Second Wave of feminism in the 70's.

I have never experienced a gathering of such unique individuals as those who were there for the support of a cause that matters to all of us. I am only 21 years old, and some of my friends and coworkers and students at Stony Brook University don't understand why the push for feminism still exists. They believe women no longer need to be fighting for equality and continue to follow the stereotypes of what a feminist really is.

I just started a new job where almost all my coworkers are young men my age. After a few weeks I told them I am a women's studies major and a feminist and they couldn't believe it; they thought I did not fall into the category of what they believed a feminist to be. I heard many stories like this from other young men and women in the YFLI workshops. It was great to spend a weekend with others who were going through the same hardships I face from the societal view on feminism.

The workshops were amazing. All of them contained so much information and knowledge it was hard to choose which slot I wanted to attend. Probably one of the most interesting sessions I attended was one led by the Young Feminist Task Force of NOW. They were just amazing. Instead of sitting in a conference room again we went to the nearby mall and had lunch out on the lawn.

The workshop did not follow a standard format; we all sat around sharing stories and talking about how we felt on certain topics. I think it may have been a unique experience for me as well as other young women who do not work in a feminist atmosphere every day like the women at NOW do.

The entire conference was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and hopefully next summer's will be the same. I made some great friends--younger and older women, and men. I got to hear some amazing stories from the women at the VFA booth, and I can't wait till I am older and can share my experiences and stories with younger girls just entering the movement. I want to give them support and strength and show them that I also have gone through everything they are going through with our societal block on feminism.

Whenever I look back at this his conference I will think of the many great women and men out there and know that I am not alone. I look forward to reconnecting with everyone I met as well as seeing all the new faces at next year's conference in Washington DC. Until then, I will keep learning in school about past feminists and hopefully create history with other young feminist every chance I get.