Members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity do some landscaping while volunteering at Appalachian Christian Village on Friday. (Photos by Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press)
Too frequently are the headlines about Greek life negative, members of a fraternity at East Tennessee State University say, and they’ve made it their mission to increase and emphasize all the positive changes they can affect in their community.
On Friday, members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity continued their main priority of helping the community by sending nearly 20 of their members to Appalachian Christian Village to landscape, pressure wash, remove brush and generally aid with upkeep of the retirement community. The news of Pi Kappa Alpha coming made everyone at the village happy, but perhaps none more than the one groundskeeper who has to maintain the 12-acre space, often having to take upward of three days to mow, only to start the process again just a few days later.
Tomica Gibbs, an activities assistant, said they typically get a smaller number of volunteers contacting them to help out.
“We get calls and it’s usually one, three, maybe five volunteers,” Gibbs said, but having 20 volunteers sign up was shocking.
Gibbs said the fraternity members were able to help out where the groundskeeper has not been able to, helping with projects recommended by the live-in independent residents, like pressure washing all the patios.
Alex Fields, the fraternity’s community service chairman, was slightly disappointed that he wasn’t able to get as many members out to help on the project due to it being Good Friday, but was proud to provide the manpower.
“They were really welcoming and excited,” Fields said. “They were really shocked there were so many of us coming.”
Fields’ work with Pi Kappa Alpha put him in charge of organizing events like this. Since the beginning of the school year, Fields said his fraternity has succeeded in helping different areas in the community. Pi Kappa Alpha has helped with bowling at the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club and on ETSU’s campus aiding with a track and field meet.
He said they’ve already completed about 700 hours of work, a number that’s still growing. Completion of a certain number of hours, Fields said, can earn them recognition from their national body.
Fraternity chapter vice president Mark Fletcher said the reason they picked the retirement home as a focus of their work is because it’s more of a local necessity. He said his fraternity has made it a point to have an impact on the community. With 10 members coming in the morning with more cycling in throughout the day, Fletcher said the goal was to help out as much as possible until they were set to leave at 5 p.m.
Gibbs said she’d spoken with Fletcher and Fields and hopes to develop Friday’s volunteer work into a long-lasting working relationship.
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