Carson Brown, Γ ’22, #1 of Chi Psi’s Alpha Gamma at Ole Miss, says he and his Exec made a choice. They remain proud of the philanthropy projects they do every year, but felt they were being outdone as far as service to the community.
“We decided to do a minimum of three service projects each semester from now on,” says Brown. “Each Brother must come to at least one. We just feel like we can do more in this area.”
For the first project, Brown says they called the city of Oxford and asked where they had any needs. Due to COVID-19, options remain fairly limited, but they did find a day and time that they could use the Brothers’ service at Avent Park.
The men spent about an hour picking up trash, straightening up the pavilion area used for birthday parties and other gatherings, and took the bags to the dump.
“They usually have a crew that does clean-up of the park during the week,” says Brown. “But they said it gets messy over the weekend a lot when they have nobody to clean up, so the city was happy to hear that we could help out!”
Avent Park, which Brown says is fairly small, still produced eight industrial-sized bags of trash from the project. The 17 members of Alpha Gamma who took part in this first project of the semester felt good about the efforts.
“This is something everyone has wanted to do for a while, but it had always been on the back burner because we had so many other things to focus on,” says Brown.
And Brown says it was the New Member class that actually planted the seed for the Exec to look into more community-centered work.
“It wasn’t as much of a priority as our philanthropy,” says Brown. “But we stress giving back to the community during our recruitment and New Member education, and we realized we had to do more to keep the promise we’d been making.”
The most recent class of New Members has been vocal about community service, and almost everyone the Exec interviewed from that group mentioned that they wanted to see the Alpha do more of it.
“We’re using this semester as a trial period of sorts,” says Brown. “We’d love to find a good place to do community service and stick to it long-term, like at a food bank or for the City of Oxford. That would be the ultimate goal.”
Brown says that, in the future, to ensure that their Brothers attend at least one community service event each semester, they will consider instituting a fining system like they have in place for other missed events. Right now, though, he says missing out on the service projects doesn’t seem to be much of a concern. Participation and morale is high.
“We’ve been putting out sign-ups a few weeks ahead of the events, and just letting Brothers go in and sign up,” says Brown. “We can only do small groups, so we’re trying to do 17 at a time for now. So far, so good.”