Gertrude Smith stood at her door and watched as a brother of a Christopher Newport University fraternity raked the leaves in her yard.
“I’ve lived here for 65 years and this is the first time anyone in the community has ever done this for me,” Smith said.
On the morning of Jan. 29, members from every fraternity on CNU’s campus joined together to serve the surrounding neighborhoods for “Serve our Neighbors Day.”
Facilitated by the Center for Service Learning and Social Entrepreneurship, the brothers were given rakes, gloves and a pep talk filled with gratitude from the Newport News City Manager Neil Morgan before going to their designated houses.
Teams consisted of brothers from different fraternities, mixing the various organizations together for one cause.
Along with raking, cleaning and removing debris from 32 houses in the community, the volunteers were also able to meet and connect with members of the neighbors surrounding their school.
“We’re doing this to help the neighbors around CNU,” said Junior Ryan Tiedeman of Kappa Delta Rho. “We get to show that we actually care about them and not just about ourselves.”
Flyers were left on the steps of 350 houses in the Riverside and Hindenwood neighborhoods, offering any residents the free service by completing forms online or calling.
“They left a notice on the porch and my son called,” Smith said. “With my two grandsons away at college, I think the project is a great idea for people like me.”
The Greek men not only volunteered to help the community, but also used the function as a way to meet potential new members and brothers from other fraternities.
Senior Chris Cherapich from Pi Kappa Phi said, “I think it’s a great idea to meet new guys involved in Greek life and to make new friends. But ultimately, this was about giving back to the community.”
“Some of us rent houses in these neighborhoods, but we don’t often get to know and befriend our neighbors,” said CNU Interfraternity Council President David Erbe in a press release. “That is something we would like to change, and since this is the end of Greek Rush Week we thought a service event would be a great way to show our pledges and our neighbors that we are serious about building positive, off-campus relationships.”
For more information on ways that you can help by giving back to your community, visit CNU’s Center for Service Learning and Social Entrepreneurship online at http://service.cnu.edu/.