An Unlikely Connection
From the time a brother is initiated into Lambda Chi Alpha, the word philanthropy becomes a part of his identity, a way of living, a stepping stone on his way to becoming a true brother.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines philanthropy as “the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people”. While it becomes commonplace for members to hit the donate button on a webpage, money subtracting from their bank account for a cause, it is easy to forget the other part of that definition: giving time to help make life better for other people. A human connection.
For Franklin College freshman Tre Akers, giving his time was a no-brainer.
On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2017, Akers and other fellow students devoted their afternoons to spending time with the residents of the Franklin United Methodist Home as part of a class service project. Throughout their time, students had the chance to meet residents at the assisted living facility and listen to their stories, while participating in activities to celebrate the day.
It was during the Martin Luther King, Jr. trivia that Akers happened upon a fellow Lambda Chi brother, 75+ years his senior. Howard Shaw, a 1942 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, and Akers soon became fast friends, connected across the years through brotherhood.
“The most enjoyable part of the day was interacting with a brother who I had no idea was going to be there,” said Akers. “It’s like we were put together by fate.”
Though he is new to the idea of philanthropy events as part of a larger cause, Akers was moved by his experience. It is his hope that he can give his time to others like Shaw in order to give back to his community.
“You never know how much that little thing that you did for someone helps so much,” said Akers. “We take for granted how lucky we are in our society and we don’t realize until we don’t have it.”
As with Akers, the rest of the Kappa-Gamma chapter is realizing its role in the community and just how they can make a difference by not only donating money, but their time.
“That is one of my favorite core values, giving to others, because you can give more to others than just your service,” said Jimmy Phillips, current High Theta. “You can give them happiness that will extend further than the time you give.”
Akers wishes to continue visiting with Shaw and others by returning to the assisted living facility frequently. After all, philanthropy is much more than a dollar amount, says current High Alpha Garrett Tuley, and it may come as a surprise what meaningful connections are made.
“I hope that Tre learns what service does not only for us, but what it truly means to those that we are serving,” said Tuley.