Breaking a Greek record, the WSU Greek community committed more than 15,000 hours to community service during the fall 2011 semester.
The WSU fraternities and sororities participate every semester in philanthropy projects that benefit both local and national organizations. Programs like the "Tri-Delta Dips and Desserts" or Kappa Alpha Theta "Rock the CASA" represent the Greek effort to fundraise for groups including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“The Greek community focuses strongly on aspects of brotherhood and sisterhood and close relationships, but along with that they also focus on scholarship and service,” said Steven Williamson, a graduate assistant in the WSU Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Williamson said the Greek community participates in less publicized days of service like volunteering at Orphan Acres in Idaho, as well as group projects. He said each Greek member is required to participate in about six to eight hours of community service per semester, but the members tend to exceed the requirement.
“Imagine doing community service with the people you enjoy being around,” Williamson said. “No matter how many hours they put in, as long as the students are finding a joy from the service and are helping others, that is what really matters.”
Recent Greek philanthropy events include the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity’s “Barn Daze” event for the Wishing Star Foundation and Greek Week 2012, which raised more than $6,000 for the Invisible Children organization.
Taylor Hennessey, the Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) director of scholarship and service, said the Alpha Delta Pi sorority went to Spokane on April 15 to run a flag football tournament benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charity. Service projects that allow members to interact with children and get out in the community enrich the Greek and collegiate experience, he said.
“We are always looking for ways to help out those less fortunate because you can always do more for someone else,” Hennessey said. “Service promotes good people skills and creates well-rounded individuals.”
John McMullan, the WSU IFC president, said service also helps recognize the core value of giving back to the community. He said it is part of what the fraternities and sororities emphasize when recruiting new members.
Hennessey said the Greek community and WSU Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) have a tight relationship. To consolidate record keeping of completed service hours, the Greek program will switch from SL Pro to CougSync next fall, he said.
Ben Calabretta, the CCE student involvement coordinator, said he works with Greek members to coordinate their group projects. The Greek members represent active and motivated leaders in the WSU community.
“Greek members recognize the value of service not only for the community, but also for themselves,” Calabretta said. “Participating is what really gets them hooked on it and makes them realize (service) is a lot of fun.”
The CCE leads about 30 projects a week with groups including the Greek community, Calabretta said. All WSU student participants gain knowledge and experience while working with children, the elderly and community programs like the Palouse Cares food drive, he said.
“Getting out and doing service helps them see the world from a different perspective,” Calabretta said.