CAPE GIRARDEAU, Missouri, March 25, 2015 – Fifteen members of Gamma Sigma Sigma service sorority at Southeast Missouri State University spent their spring break volunteering with Serve901, a volunteer agency, in Memphis, Tennessee, and completed a combined total of 270 service hours in three days.
Serve901 is a community organization based in Memphis that matches volunteers to volunteering opportunities. Serve901 led Gamma Sigma Sigma to opportunities with the Mid-South Food Bank, Memphis Athletic Ministries, Agape, and an educational opportunity regarding sex-trafficking.
“It’s important for the members to travel to other locations so that they can understand the bigger picture of our nation’s needs,” said Joanna Shaver, campus programming coordinator and Gamma Sigma Sigma advisor. “Traveling and utilizing an agency to help coordinate projects can open a person’s eyes to problems that they never knew existed. By going on this trip, they can bring back the things that they learned and teach others about issues that may or may not be that familiar with our students. The Southeast student body is so diverse in regards to the areas they were raised in. Traveling to different areas can broaden horizons and lead to new ways of helping others.”
The Mid-South Food Bank serves those in need in the Memphis area and is also a member of the Feeding America national network of food banks. At the Mid-South Food Bank, the members of Gamma Sigma Sigma packed 6,736 boxes of food, each box weighing 1,400 pounds. At the Memphis Athletic Ministries, a program focused on the educational and goal-building interest of children ages 5-13, Gamma Sigma Sigma members spent their days playing with children who were out of school for spring break. While volunteering with Agape, a families in transition program, members assembled home furnishings and cleaned apartments for families and homeless individuals in transition to a better life.
“Serve901 was very influential on the chapter. They helped us see all of the different ways Memphis needs help and support in their community by giving us a variety of service projects and organizations to help with,” said Catalina Mahr of Belleville, Illinois. “The coordinator, Jeff Riddle, and Serve901 staff were thrilled to have us serving and visiting their community. They were very appreciative of our hard work, determination, and willingness to help. I have gotten nothing but great feedback from our members and we would love to work with them again next year.”
During the course of their trip, Gamma Sigma Sigma members also were educated on the topic of sex-trafficking and its presence in the United States.
“The last organization we learned about helped women leave sex-trafficking permanently. This topic is something no one likes to talk about, but people need to be aware of it. A lot of our members learned that sex-trafficking does not occur only in other countries or California, like it is portrayed in movies. It happens in our local communities and those involved need a way out,” said Mahr.
Aside from community service projects, Gamma Sigma Sigma members enjoyed visiting Memphis landmarks such as B.B. King, A. Schwab and the National Civil Rights Museum.