Greek Week highlights service

Shannon Sumerlin has a stack of binders in her office that show that Greeks on campus have done more than just throw theme parties.

The binders contain documentation that show the chapters fulfilled specific requirements in order to maintain their relationship with the university, said Sumerlin, interim director of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Students could also see evidence of this during Greek Week, April 5 through April 9, when many Greeks participate in community service projects.

Sumerlin said most of the community service projects would take place on Monday and Friday of Greek Week when organization members would participate in Kanstruction on Monday, part of Hunger Week, and Greeks in the Streets Day on Friday.

According to the Hunger Week Web site, Hunger Week is a university-wide week-long event designed to raise awareness for hunger at the local, domestic and global levels.

Sumerlin described Greeks in the Streets as similar to the annual TCU LEAPS community service program in that it provides Greeks an opportunity to give back in the Fort Worth community.

By participating in these events, the organizations would fulfil the requirements set by the university.

The university requires each of the chapters on campus to perform community service but has no specific hourly requirement. The hourly requirements are left to the individual chapters, she said. An exact number of hours for each fraternity and sorority on campus was not available.

According to the program standards listed on the Fraternity and Sorority Life Web site, at least half of the total number of members in each Greek organization on campus are required to participate in one hands-on community service project each semester, but some members have done more.

Cynthia Dorado, a senior marketing major and Sigma Lambda Alpha Sorority Inc. president, said her sorority set a goal for the 2009-10 school year of 500 hours of community service for the chapter.

Sigma Lambda Alpha, a Latin-based organization, was created to serve the community and raise cultural awareness, Dorado said. The sorority formed a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, an organization founded to give children a safe place to go instead of the streets.

“Because we don’t have as many members or we don’t have as much funding.something that we can really help out with is in community-based service, not just through monetary contributions but more with our hard work and our service and dedication,” Dorado said.

Dorado said she went through the Panhellenic rush process but ultimately decided to join Sigma Lambda Alpha because of the community service emphasis.

She said she thought that while some organizations focus on one fundraising event a year, they could see more of their impact if they did more hands-on service. Seeing the impact she has made in children’s lives made the service seem worthwhile, she said.

“The Boys and Girls (club) sometimes is the most enjoyable because you get to see first-hand the contribution you’re doing,” Dorado said. “It’s the best feeling.”

Lorenzo Samaniego, senior business information systems major and Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc. president, agreed that community service was important for Greek letter organizations.

Most fraternities and sororities were created with service as a core value, Samaniego said. His organization listed service among its three chief ideals, which were brotherhood, service and academics.

Samaniego said each of the ideals supported one other because many opportunities to give back to the community are in area schools such as Oaklawn Elementary School. Members of the fraternity established a mentorship program at the elementary school.

Members of his organization have tried to combine fundraising with service, Samaniego said. It has allowed for more impact because it opens it up to the entire community instead of one organization, he said.

Hannah Crooke, a junior biology major and Alpha Delta Pi president, said she agreed that hands-on service is important. One reason she decided to join her sorority was because of the relationship between the organization and the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which provide housing for families of children living with chronic medical conditions.

“Philanthropy is all well and good, and it’s definitely needed to keep any charitable organization running.but community service is a lot more personal,” Crooke said. “I think that you’re more willing to give if you see the impact that you’re having.”

In addition to the annual philanthropy event required by the university, members of the chapter have also visited the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Worth. Members have historically planned to visit the house once a month to cook dinner and spend time with the families staying there.

After volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, it would be difficult not to donate time or money to the charity, Crooke said. She said she thinks seeing the children and families helped by the charity might increase a person’s willingness to devote time to the organization.

Crooke said one reason some organizations on campus have logged fewer community service hours is that the philanthropies sponsored by the individual organizations were not as easily accessible.

Because of scheduling conflicts, Crooke said members of the chapter have not visited the Ronald McDonald House as often as they would like during the spring semester, but they planned to visit the house every week in April to compensate for missed opportunities.