CMU's three volunteer Greek organizations

More than 20,000 hours of community service have been completed by Central Michigan University Greeks since 2011, and volunteering is the driving force behind three organizations on campus.

Alpha Phi Omega, Epsilon Sigma Alpha and Zeta Theta Pi differentiate from the other Greek organizations on campus because their focus is entirely on volunteering.

Epsilon Sigma Alpha

"Epsilon Sigma Alpha does not allow a chapter to purchase a frat house to make sure the focus does not become social and remains volunteer," Marcel Kirberg, president of Central Michigan University's chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha, said via email. "We strive to keep it that way, despite it making it quite difficult to recruit."

Epsilon Sigma Alpha is a co-ed fraternity, and the CMU chapter founded two years ago is also the first collegiate chapter in Michigan.

Kirberg said the people who do enjoy the preconceived notions of Greek life turn away because of how small the organization is.

"We are still too small for some of the social activities that we'd like to incorporate and that other (social activities) are simply not an option because we want to keep the priority on volunteer work," the St. Joseph senior said.

All Greek organizations, whether social or philanthropic, volunteer to some extent.

"It's admirable, but we've had a number of unpleasant experiences (with other Greek organizations) in the past," Kirberg said. "Our vice president originally rushed for one of the sororities that told her they were all about volunteering, but when it came time to decide who got in, her binder full of prior volunteer work was turned down, and, instead, there were discussions about why she wasn't wearing the latest fashions."

Similar experiences are what prompted students to start Epsilon Sigma Alpha.

"The organization has been very excited to work with us and has been giving us as much support as they can to help us get up and running, which has been difficult because I feel the university supplies very little support when it comes to starting up a (registered student organization)," Kirberg said.

Epsilon Sigma Alpha wasn't informed by the university that they had been assigned a P.O. box until a year had passed.

The chapter puts on a yearly "Give Thanks Walk" for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Epsilon Sigma Alpha has been working with St. Jude since 1962.

"Despite being few in number, we managed to raise $464 our first year, setting a record for how much a group had raised in their first year," Kirberg said. "It is (great) to see the joy on the faces of the families engaging in the very tough fight against cancer and to see their kids smiling and having a good time at the walks."

Other volunteer activities that Epsilon Sigma Alpha participate in include raking leaves for the elderly and volunteering at local elementary schools, among others.

"Each experience is different and has different rewards," Kirberg said.

Zeta Theta Pi

Zeta Theta Pi formed the CMU chapter in the spring of 2007. They are a local service sorority.

"Zeta Theta Pi's main focus is to better the sister, the sorority and society through taking part in service work around the Mount Pleasant community," Haley Willick, president of CMU's chapter of Zeta Theta Pi, said via email.

During a semester, the sorority completes 10 different service events, which include both campus and community events. Some of these events help to benefit the Mobile Food Pantry and Habitat for Humanity. Zeta Theta Pi also contributes by volunteering at animal shelters, visiting nursing homes, Relay for Life and other various volunteer activities.

Willick's favorite part about being in Zeta Theta Pi is being able to volunteer in the community with her friends.

"Being in a small organization, I have the opportunity to get to know every one of my sisters on a close personal level and have a strong bond as a sisterhood," the Lake Orion senior said. "It is truly uplifting to be surrounded by a group of women that are passionate about serving the community."

The most impacting volunteer experience for Willick is the Mobile Food Pantry.

"We get to see our group making an immediate difference in the community and interact with the people we are helping," Willick said.

Willick enjoys the sisterhood that Zeta Theta Pi brings to its members.

"Zeta Theta Pi has always felt like home, and I have always felt comfortable with being myself and never judged. I wanted to be a part of a sisterhood but also wanted to join a sorority that was personable and involved in a large amount of service," Willick said. "Every sister has unique qualities, but, together, we have the same mission to better the sister, the sorority and society in which we live."

Alpha Phi Omega

Alpha Phi Omega is a co-ed service fraternity that participates in various volunteer activities throughout the campus and Mount Pleasant community.

The president of the CMU chapter, Andrea Earl, was not available for comment in time of publication.