Remember service? That thing we had to do each semester to fulfill a requirement! Well, we don't need to limit service in our communities to meeting the term's service hour requirement set by your chapter! If you've been keeping up with current events or been on instagram at all in the last week, you know that there's a greater need than ever for our genuine hearts for service. We're diving into how engaging in service off-campus cultivates a desire in you to love others authentically:
Now that we've been apart from our sisterhood and communities in-person for 10 weeks, we've probably started forgetting the routines and priorities of our chapter. I'm sure when we're all in the same space again Robert's Rules of Order will be a forgotten form of communication, and what an unbelievable blessing it will be to have your best friend so easily accessible now that she's next door again.
Another component of your chapter routine was probably p h i l a n t h r o p y ! I bet it seems like a long time since you attended a sporting event or restaurant fundraiser hosted to support a chapter's philanthropy. This buzz word that we throw around during recruitment and parent's weekend actually starts to mean something to us when we incorporate
s e r v i c e.
I'm sure you've been educated on the difference but as a little refresher, here is how philanthropy and service work together in their own ways:
Philanthropy is raising awareness for a cause, movement, or tragic event with the intent to fundraise. By donating money, you and your organization are able to contribute to research, relief, and other efforts toward the cause.
Service goes further than giving of your money - service requires you to give of your time. Through volunteering and spending your time to further the purpose of the cause, you create a connection with it by understanding and knowing those affected by it.
The cause we talk about and raise money for starts to matter to us when we deeply care enough to serve - get to know those affected and educate ourselves on the matter at hand.
I want you to think of your chapter's philanthropy. Why does it matter to you? Why are you compelled to give at the fundraisers or fulfill your service hour requirements?
As you probably know by now, I am a proud member of Sigma Kappa and our primary philanthropic initiative is the Alzheimer's Association. I do not personally have a family member who has suffered from this disease so I was not immediately drawn toward Sigma Kappa during philanthropy round of recruitment. I agreed that people (primarily women) losing their memory & brain function was terrible but I did not have a personal connection that made it matter to me.
After joining my chapter and creating meaningful friendships with women who have family members who have suffered from Alzheimer's, I began to care. I heard their stories, walked with them in the Walk to End Alzheimer's, and shared their grief. Their experiences made me imagine how devastated I would be if my grandma had this disease and how it would affect my family. What I imagined was my sister's reality.
My philanthropy mattered to me once my sisters who were affected by it mattered to me.
I did not need to personally experience the negative repercussions of this disease to be passionate about finding a cure for it. I would assume that your chapter's philanthropy matters to you for the same reason ~ you either have a personal connection to it or you care about someone who has been affected by it. You do not need to have a story to believe that the world would be better with the solution your philanthropy works toward. But you probably would not care like you do today if you had not heard your sister's story - if you had not given your sister the space to share her story.
If you have been paying attention to the world this week, you might see where I'm going by sharing that story. For my white sister friends, I know it can feel difficult to know what to do or how to respond in times like these. But we won't have any more clarity about why we should care if we don't allow our Black sisters the space to share their story. As allies, we will never understand the pain and oppression of our Black friends but we can still choose to stand by their side, educate ourselves, and have conversations that challenge racial biases and beliefs.
We respond to movements and causes when they matter to us, even if we are not affected by them, because those we love who are affected matter.
In the same way that I did not know or care very much about the impacts of the Alzheimer's' Association before joining Sigma Kappa, you might not have known very much or had a reason to care about Black Lives Matter before this week. But I know that this has brought to light for you that someone you love is affected by what's happening ~ and they are your reason to care. Now, you get to get back into your service routine to stand beside your Black sisters and friends, not because you are personally affected, but because people you care about are.
So you might be thinking, well Cass where do I start? What do I do?
I'm sure you've seen the activity on social media ~ maybe you've even posted! I would consider social media philanthropy. Posting is necessary but it's a way to promote and raise awareness without requiring you to actively come alongside and support those affected. So to tune into this crisis and cultivate an authentic heart for others, how will you choose to serve right now?
Here are 5 things I have seen that have helped me as a white woman be better equipped as an ally:
Check in: So remember those sisters we were just talking about? The ones who make this movement matter to you? Check in on your Black sisters and friends to remind them you’re here for them.
Donate: I don’t know about you but following the video and heightened awareness of George Floy's death, I didn't know what to do. I was upset and uneasy and did not know how to act. Donating was the first direction I was pointed in to learn to do something. Not just to give my money, but to learn about these bail funds and organizations and understand the greater issue. https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/donate-black-lives-matter
Watch: You've probably exhausted your Netflix/Hulu/Disney+ libraries during quarantine, but have you extended yourself past your zone of comfort in your watching? There are so many shows, documentaries, and movies that have been shared on social media this week as a place to start in growing as an ally. https://www.buzzfeed.com/natashajokic1/racial-injustice-documentaries-and-movies
Read or Listen: : Maybe it's time to change up your book or podcast selection to better understand Black history and communities. Also on social media, there are so many recommendations for where to start putting in the time to learn Black history and culture. https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2020/jun/03/do-the-work-an-anti-racist-reading-list-layla-f-saad https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/1291472/black-lives-matter-podcasts-about-race-best-podcasts-on-race
Follow: If you agree with everyone you follow, diversify your feed! Learn from those you follow. Be challenged by those you follow. Follow those who encourage your growth especially as an ally! https://variety.com/2020/digital/news/11-anti-racist-accounts-that-are-worth-following-1234621505/
Whatever you choose, I promise you this ~ when you take a posture of service, you will cultivate a genuine heart for others that will endure long past this topic trending. With a true heart for service, you will become a part of long term effective change. I don't know about you but that seems way more rewarding than meeting your service hour requirement for next term.