A volunteering story by: Jeremy Tecktiel
Tony was in charge of planning our fraternity’s “philanthropy feed” or our biggest charity event of the year. He was in charge of deciding what type of food we would serve. We have done all different things, such as cereal, breakfast foods, and fried chicken. Tony decided to try something new and chose to serve “walking tacos.” Walking tacos are bags of chips stuffed with taco condiments such as meat, beans, and lettuce. He chose to do this because of the cost effectiveness. There was no need for plates, as the food was eaten directly out of the bag of chips. It cost about $1 per bag of chips, and they charged $5. He was also in charge of inviting people. He sent out formal invitations, as well as emails and a facebook invite, to all of the Greek houses and hundreds of alumni. He also sent out the invite to many Alzheimers groups across the Twin Cities and many professors in the University community. So much work goes into making sure a fraternity house is ready and able to host hundreds of people, and having done it in the past, I know that this was the hardest part of the whole thing, as Tony confirmed. Our chef was willing to stay late and cook for them and all of the brothers served the walking tacos to hundreds of people throughout the night. Once the event starts, Tony has to make sure everyone is doing their shifts in selling tickets and serving food.
Each year, hundreds of people filter through the house and there is hardly time to notice them, let alone talk to them. While they had more people than ever last year, it was one alumni in particular who showed up and made an impact. This man had been in the fraternity in the 1950’s and had not been back since. He received the invite like every year, but this year he felt the need to come. He had recently lost his wife of 55 years to Alzheimers disease. When he showed up, no one knew what to do. We never really got alumni older than 30, and even though we send out the invites, we didn’t expect that to change. He had been feeling very lonely with his children now living out of state and his wife gone. Almost every brother took turns sitting with him and talking to him and listening to his stories about the fraternity and his wife. At the end of the night, he pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check. The brothers expected it to be around $100, as that was most of what the alumni donate. He thanked the brothers for being there for him and said how amazing it was that a group of students takes the time to raise awareness and money for a disease that none of us had been personally impacted by. He said it was perfect timing and he felt that it was a sign when he received the invitation so soon after his wife’s passing. He donated $3,000 to the house and promised to make sure he came back and did the same thing every year.
The Aha! moment…
My fraternity nationally supports a charity called The Judy Fund. The Judy fund raises money for Alzheimers awareness and helps towards researching and finding a cure. Each year, to show our chapter’s support and raise money, we hold a charity event at the chapter house. We have some sort of food, it varies every year, and invite the whole Greek community and Minneapolis community at large, especially alumni, to come and donate to The Judy Fund and eat some food. Each year we raise over $1,000, no matter how large the fraternity is, and while that is not a small amount of money, it is right around average for our fraternity nationally and we always strive to be above average. Last year, we raised over $5,000 in the one night event. I interviewed my brother, Tony Mrozek, who was in charge of the event to find out more about what enabled him to raise the most money we have ever raised in a charity event. He was honest and he said it was almost entire selfish because he wanted to raise more money than any other chapter, including our rivals chapters that were much bigger in size and viewed us as “little brothers.” While he realized how much money he raised, he really didn’t realize the impact until he got a call from the people at the Judy Fund thanking him for the donation and telling him how amazing and generous it was.
To summarize it in three words…
- scary, fun, helpless
Why should you do this
Alzheimers is one of the scariest things he has ever encountered and he implores people to continue to raise money for awareness so that hopefully someday they can find a cure.