New Member Experience – by Angela Kopietz

October 11, 2014

Recently, I found meetup.com and immediately noticed the Omaha Atheists group.  I joined due to my personal beliefs regarding religion, however I watched a few meet-ups come and go, but never really considered putting myself out there.  A few weeks later I decided to join the Omaha Atheists on Facebook and right away I got a private message from Tom.  I can’t remember the last time I joined a group and had someone sincerely take the time to just say hi! He welcomed me to the group and he seemed so friendly and genuine.  He and I messaged back and forth for a little bit and eventually he asked if I was going to attend the meet and greet the following evening.   I told him that due to my social anxiety that it would probably be difficult for me to attend.  Then he referred me to a thread on the OA FB site that was just posted by another member suffering from the same anxieties.  I read through and noticed all the positive feedback, advice and others going through the similar situations.  It was so comforting to see.

 

I decided that I was going to try out OA and just see what the group had to offer.  So the next night, even though I had to push myself to go, I went to Clancy’s to check out OA.  From the moment I walked in, I was kindly greeted.  Everyone introduced themselves and I was so surprised to find out that I wasn’t the only new person to the group!  Tom explained some of the events that the group participates in, like the book club, community service, the youth club, and membership details.  All throughout the meeting people kept coming in and others welcomed them like family.  I was immediately drawn to the various discussions ranging from Apostacon experiences, people’s personal lives, upcoming events, and so much more!  It wasn't so much about religion, as it was a social event.  The only time religion was even brought up was by me, when Josiah and I were outside smoking.  He told me he had kids and I asked how he parented differently from those who have religious beliefs.  He advised me of a new book by Dan Arel named “Parenting Without God”. 

 

After the meeting I was friended on FB by some of the members and have even been friended by some people I haven’t yet had the privilege of meeting.  I checked out the author that Josiah mentioned and even found a podcast relating to the topic.  And I also looked up the website, www.omahaatheist.org, and I really connected with the Four Pillars: Community, Service, Education, and Activism and I also enjoyed reading the stories from other members of the community.   

 

Later that weekend, I noticed that a few people were meeting at Caffeine Dreams.  I asked how long they were going to be there and immediately RJ responded and asked if I would join them.  When I arrived Josiah and RJ were sitting together at a table for two.  Even though Josiah just had surgery, he jumped up to find me a chair.  I had seen RJ at the meet-up but did not have the opportunity to talk with her.  She was so nice, had such a bubbly personality, and was so open.   We talked about the way that I located the group and why I was seeking some support.  She asked lots of questions and eventually I realized she had to be on the board.  I offered to assist the group in any way that I could and she suggested that maybe I could help with the blog on www.omahaatheists.org.   

 

We talked for hours and eventually Robert joined us.  While we were talking, RJ mentioned the lending library, which I am totally interested in!  I mentioned that the public library doesn't have the book that Josiah suggested and that I couldn't currently afford it.  The next thing I knew, Josiah was on his computer insisting on ordering it for the group and supporting the author.  It was such a sweet and kind gesture, I definitely owe him one. :)  Acceptance and pure kindness can be very rare these days… and I’m so fortunate to have found that in this group and its members!

 

 

So, there’s my story on joining the Omaha Atheists group.  In my book, this group rocks and I plan on sticking around for a long time! 

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Founded in 2008, Omaha Atheists is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to building a positive community for non-theists, fostering secular viewpoints, promoting and being an ally for social causes, supporting charitable contributions to society, and protecting the separation of church and state.

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