Roughly 500 Northwestern students turned out Sunday to kick off the Greek community’s first ever all-council community service project. Greek Build is coordinating with Habitat for Humanity and looking to raise $100,000 in order to build a house for a local family.
“We got the idea last spring,” said executive board member and McCormick junior Tod Reynolds. Reynolds and members of his fraternity, Sigma Chi, thought it would be positive to unite the Greek community with a “hands-on” service project. “So often the Greek houses compete against each other for events,” Reynolds said. “We are such a powerful force, especially when we work together.”
After the successful kickoff, “we’re going to be going hardcore with the fundraising,” Reynolds said. Chapters are hosting fundraising events throughout Fall Quarter and are looking to break ground in November. The building will continue through winter in an indoor warehouse in order to be productive despite the wind and snow. The project is tentatively scheduled to be done by June.
“I’ve been very impressed with the level of thoughtfulness, planning and strategic thinking of the executive board,” said Julie Donovan, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity Lake County. After Reynolds contacted her in the fall, Donovan has been working closely with the Greek Build executives in order to organize the project. “It’s almost like setting up a little business,” Donavan said.
Karla Campos, the recipient of the house, and her eight year old daughter Briana were “just ecstatic” when they heard about Greek Build. “I was like, oh my gosh, students with their busy schedules and midterms coming up, they’re taking the time to get to know me and do this [for us],” said Campos. Both attended the kickoff, where they were pleased by the turnout.
“At first, [Briana] was looking around, kind of nervous,” said Campos. “But once she got to meet everyone, she’s having a great time.” Campos watched as members of the family relations committee laughed and danced with Briana, a special needs third grader, as various student a cappella and dance groups performed.
“We hope to inspire chapters and Greek councils across the country to unite and do good for themselves and for others,” said Greek Build co-founder Aaron Jacobowitz in a press release.
Through such philanthropy, Greek Build also hopes to “combat ‘Greek’ stereotypes” on campus. “The Greek community has had a lot of bad publicity lately,” said Gamma Phi Beta chapter liaison and Weinberg junior Lisa Peterson. In a listserv email, the executive board cited “problems on and off campus and negative national media attention,” as contributing to the negative attitude towards Northwestern fraternities and sororities.
“You always hear about the superficial things regarding Greek life,” Peterson said, noting that philanthropy is one of the founding values of every Greek organization. “This will give a great face to the Greek community.”