Sororities, fraternities wrap up philanthropy week
Excitement rose in the cool Saturday morning air as costumed brothers and sisters got behind the pink and white ribbons wrapped around the trees.
The horn sounded, and students in tutus and pink attire took off.
Alpha Kappa Delta Phi’s second annual Code Pink 5K Costume Run benefited the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which has partnered with the sorority for the past few years.
aKDPhi member Maria Le said vice president and service chair Kim Vu Tran has been planning this run since the beginning of the semester.
Greek organizations use philanthropy to promote awareness for causes like domestic violence or cancer. AKDPhi’s cause is breast cancer.
“Most of the time when we set up Code Pink, we set up tabling, we set up flyers and we tell girls, ‘you’re never too young or too old to get a mammogram,’” Le said. “We send them to the women’s clinics, and we give them free pamphlets, goodie bags, and we give out ribbons as well.”
She said the biggest misconception about breast cancer is when people think it won’t happen to them.
“They think that if it’s not in your background, you can’t get it, but anyone can get it,” Le said. “It’s just important that you just check for it, just to be safe.”
Le stressed that the sorority also offers a sense of belonging, a sense of family and a great networking opportunity.
“People say that all we’re doing is paying for friends and that all we do is party, but it’s all further from the truth,” Le said. “There is a lot of rewarding factors that go into being Greek. You have another family within school, you have someone else besides your own blood that will always be there for you and you all work toward a greater cause within the school and community as well.”
The sorority Sigma Phi Omega focuses on domestic violence with the organization Stopping Abuse in Family Environments.
“We currently work with the Houston Area Women’s Shelter, and every year, during the fall, we host a SAFE week where we have a dodgeball tournament, a dunk booth, bakes sales as well as have a self-defense course for females to come out and learn how to protect themselves,” said Sigma Phi Omega service coordinator Christina Hoang. “We have candlelight vigils as well.”
The sorority also welcomed female and male victims of domestic violence to speak about their experiences and how to prevent them.
“We feel like through that, it opens our eyes,” Hoang said. “Everyone is welcome to come and support us and support the philanthropy for domestic violence awareness, and we encourage nonmembers to come as well.”
Sometimes causes can hit close to home.
“We actually have had members from our sorority who have experienced domestic violence,” Hoang said. “So not only are we preaching it, we have had experience (with) it, and we try to cope through it with them as well.”
Sigma Phi Omega member Karen Wong creates homemade bear key chains on her own time for anyone who donates $10 to a domestic violence organization.
“It’s from the kindness of her heart. She doesn’t do it for any recognition; she just does it because it’s one of her hobbies, and we really do love her because of that,” Hoang said.
Accounting junior and Pi Kappa Phi President Benjamin Baek’s fraternity works with Push America, a nonprofit that the fraternity itself owns and operates. It’s the only fraternity in the nation that runs and owns its own philanthropic organization.
Push America’s goal is to raise awareness and funds for people with disabilities. This year it raised $12,000, surpassing its annual goal of $10,000. It also has a partnership with the adaptive athletics department, which was co-founded by one of the brothers.
“We usually give 25 percent of what we made to two organizations, and one of those organizations was the adaptive athletics department,” Baek said.
Pi Kappa Phi also has a program called the Accessibility Project, through which it finds someone local who’s in need of a wheelchair ramp, then builds a ramp for them.
“It’s really inspiring. Once you light someone’s fire inside them, your cause, it just lights other people’s as well,” Baek said.
“It’s really special, because there’s always so many great charities, so many great causes we do for everything in the world we’re trying to change, and I think the number one (way) people view disabilities (is) like an entire different race. You’re perceived as someone who fits outside.”
Baek said Pi Kappa Phi has an event where it picks two or three brothers to ride a wheelchair for a week to experience what it’s like to have a disability.
“I actually participated in last Push Week, and I think what was the most eye-opening was where I went to Kroger, and I tried to reach for something, and people were just looking at me and tried to be obvious not to stare, but it’s as if they’re saying, ‘I don’t know why this guy is in a wheelchair,’” Baek said, adding that the worst disability is a bad attitude.