UR fraternities and sororities spent the morning of Saturday, Sept. 13 doing outdoor community service at Mount Hope Cemetery and with the 19th Ward Community Association. Approximately 40 students assisted in the 19th Ward, while over 400 students serviced Mount Hope Cemetery.

Junior and Vice President of Publicity for the Panhellenic Association Susan Talbot spearheaded the service project. After joint planning with Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (FSA), Talbot said that Greek Weekend was slated to hold both social and service events. The service event was modeled after the highly-praised Wilson Day, the University’s annual freshman community service day.

According to Talbot, the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL) played an integral part in deciding which local organizations to contact regarding service projects.

“We met with Glenn [Cerosaletti] from the community service office, who gave me a few ideas for people to reach out to,” Talbot said. “We took a lot of advice from Glenn.” Talbot said that the 19th Ward Community Association and Mount Hope Cemetery were receptive to offers of service and subsequently were included in the planning for Greek Weekend.

Participating Greek chapters  were under the jurisdiction of three national councils: the Interfraternity Council (IFC); Multicultural Greek Council (MGC); and the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). According to Talbot, efforts were being made to incorporate all three councils in the planning of the event. Talbot, a member of a NPC sorority, had high hopes for the endeavor’s success.

“The Greeks do a fabulous job with philanthropy and raising money,” Talbot said. “We wanted to encourage our [Greek] community to go out and do active service in our local community.”

FSA Assistant Director AnneMarie Cucci, with whom Talbot worked to plan the day of service, noted the difference between this project and other service efforts.

“There is a difference between philanthropy and community service,” she said. “There is a lot of philanthropy that goes on here on campus. There are a lot of fundraisers and a lot of money is donated to larger national organizations, but there is less time spent focusing directly on the services that are needed in our community.”

Cucci praised Talbot’s role in the planning of the event. “The service project was, hands-down, Susan Talbot,” she said. “She was the one who, all summer, was communicating with both sites and figuring out the logistics of communicating with the chapters.”

Cucci also lauded the efforts of the students involved. “Even when it was time to wrap-up, they were asking what more could be done and if they were other areas that needed help. Overall, it was a great success. I’m extremely proud of the turnout and the genuine enthusiasm that the students had, despite the weather.”

The Greek service project was well-received by the local organizations, as well.

“Both the [19th Ward Community Association and Mount Hope Cemetery representatives] emailed me after to say just how helpful we all were and what a success the event was,” Talbot said. “They were impressed with the positive attitudes shown by our students.”

Both Cucci and Talbot assert that the cross-council planning of Greek Weekend was unprecedented.

“[The presidents and programming chairs of the three councils] conceptualized the whole weekend and really stepped up; they took on the challenge of programming an entire weekend for our community,” Cucci said. “It’s a lot of work and it hasn’t been done so much in the past because it’s a big responsibility and people don’t always want to take that on. […] I think [the student leaders] embody and represent what our community really is.”
Cucci, when asked about future plans, said “We challenged ourselves with just a weekend now and we realized we can take on a little more. We may, next semester, try to plan an entire week. […] We definitely want to open up to the entire campus, whether affiliated or not […] I think it can only get better from here.”

Ransom is a member of the class of 2017.

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