A number of charitable organizations and individuals in need in the Southeast Missouri region are benefiting as the result of the highly successful Greek Week 2004 held April 12-18 at Southeast Missouri State University.
Greek Week is held each year in the spring at Southeast to celebrate membership in the Greek community. Greek Week consists of seven days of community service, social interaction and friendly competition.
Members of Southeast’s fraternities and sororities volunteered at the Special Olympics, collected food and money to be donated to community organizations and individuals, interacted with children at the Boys and Girls Club, cleaned parks around Cape Girardeau, conducted a blood drive to assist in the ongoing need to save lives, and hosted their first annual “Throw a Pie” contest. Together, members of Southeast fraternities and sororities donated more than 1,200 hours of community service during the week.
“Campus and community involvement is a vital part of the Greek experience at Southeast”, said Gretchen Weber, Assistant Director of the University Center at Southeast. “It enables our students to learn valuable skills and practice what will, hopefully, be lifelong involved citizenship.
“Greek Week gives students the opportunity to give back to the community,” Weber added. “The Southeast Greek community proves year after year that giving is more fun than receiving. The results of Greek Week are a sign of our Greek students’ enthusiasm and their true understanding of philanthropy. They truly understand the positive impact they can have on the community.”
The Greek Week Blood Drive held March 7-10 produced 530 pints of useable blood for the American Red Cross. “Donating blood earns points towards being Greek Week champions, but we stress to people to only give if they meet the guidelines. We encourage those who cannot give themselves or who are afraid of needs to find a replacement,” says Bob Florig, Blood Drive co-chair.
As a result of “Greek God and Goddess” fund-raising, $40,000 in donations was dispersed to the United Way, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Cape Girardeau Guardians Foundation, Southeast Missouri Special Olympics and Pony Bird, Inc., a residential care facility for people with disabilities. Each Greek chapter is responsible for raising money through fund-raising activities or by accepting donations. The Greek Week Steering Committee votes each year on which organizations to distribute donations.
“Our students appreciate the good work done each year by the United Way and their willingness to partner with the University, chapters and individuals on philanthropy and service projects,” Weber said. “Because of our long-term partnership, students recognize the impact the United Way has on our community and are pleased to help achieve their goals.”
The Southeast Missouri United Way received $16,000 on Sunday, April 18 at the All Greek Chapter Meeting.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has been a partner since 2002.
“The touching stories of the wishes that were granted because of our donation last year, made them a natural choice again this year,” said Teresa Layton, co-chair of the Greek Week Steering Committee.
The Greek students were able to donate $10,000 that will be evenly split between the Springfield, Mo., chapter, covering the Southeast Missouri region, and the Metro St. Louis chapter.
“The majority of Southeast students come from all over Missouri and Southern Illinois, and because we ask family and friends to contribute to our goal, we felt it was important to make an impact in as many communities as possible,” said Carissa Sims, co-chair of the Greek Week Steering Committee.
Make-A-Wish continues to be a great organization to work with, having volunteers and Wish recipients from both chapters present at the All Greek Chapter meeting to receive the donations and to share how the funds make a difference.
The next donation for $8,000 went to the Special Olympics of Southeast Missouri, a new donation partner in 2003; however Greek students have been volunteering at the area track meet for many years.
“Last year was our first year to give money as well as time” said Erin Karl, co-chair for Greek Week Special Olympics event. “They were so excited by our donation, and the Southeast Regional Special Olympics staff has gone out of their way to make us feel special all year long.”
The fifth donation in the amount of $4,000 was made to the Guardians of Cape Girardeau. The Guardians is a foundation that assists fire and police officers and their families in the unfortunate event that they are injured or killed in the line of duty.
“Both the Cape Fire and Police Departments have assisted the Southeast Greek system in educational and safety programming. They do a great job and it’s our way of thanking them for helping campus,” Weber said.
The final 2004 donation in the amount of $2,000 was made to Pony Bird, Inc. to assist in their expansion fund-raising campaign. Pony Bird provides residential, recreational, educational, and adult day programming services to those individuals who are non-ambulatory with profound to severe physical disabilities as well as profound to severe mental disabilities. A current Greek student brought the need to the attention of the system, and groups of students have volunteered at the home located in Mapaville, Mo.
In addition to the blood units and funds, more than 26,500 cans of food were donated to the Salvation Army as part of the week.
“It was exciting to see how grateful the staff at the Salvation Army was for our donation,” said Peter Allen and Elisa Goetz, co-chairs of the Greek God and Goddess committee who coordinated all donations.
Greek Week is also the time of year when the Greek community and the University recognizes outstanding chapter and individual achievements. A number of awards and honors were presented to Greek students at the All Greek Chapter meeting. Lee Schlitt, of Cape Girardeau, of Theta Xi was named Greek Man of the Year, and Carissa Sims of St. Peters, Mo., of Gamma Phi Beta was named Greek Woman of the Year. Both were recognized for their leadership and service to the Greek system and University over the past four years. The Advisor of the Year Award went to Patrick Douglas of Sigma Nu for his dedication to chapter and individual development that includes acquisition of properties adjacent to campus as a future site for the fraternity’s home and increased alumni relations.
The Women of Alpha Chi Omega and Alpha Delta Pi, along with the Men of Sigma Phi Epsilon were presented the President’s Award for Fraternal Excellence by Kenneth W. Dobbins, president of Southeast Missouri State University. The award is the highest honor given to a fraternity or sorority on the Southeast campus and recognizes extensive achievement in the following seven areas: academic achievement, chapter management, membership development, new member recruitment and education, philanthropy and community service, community relations, and risk management.
Academic excellence among Southeast Greek students also was highlighted during Greek Week, with 315 Greek students recognized for achieving a grade point average greater than 3.5 during the past year, and 117 for achieving a perfect 4.0 during that period.
“Members of Southeast fraternities and sororities consistently receive the highest grade point averages among all Greek organizations at universities in the Ohio Valley Conference,” Weber said.
Dr. Tammie Stenger, Southeast professor of recreation, was awarded the Professor of the Year Award for her outstanding teaching practices, and dedication toward students. The men of Sigma Nu nominated Stenger for the award.