Joining a service sorority was the best decision I made
Giving to others has given back so much more to me
I always knew when I got to college that I wanted to volunteer. I wanted to make a difference and help people less fortunate. But as a little freshman, I had no idea where to start.
A little background on me – I am from a small town in South Carolina and graduated with a class of 48 students. The University of South Carolina had so many new things to offer me, but I was overwhelmed. Just as I was racking my brain on what club or organization to join, I got a message from my University 101 peer leader telling the girls in our class about a service sorority that she had been a part of. Now, I never wanted to be in a sorority – it was just never my thing, but this seemed different. I thought it would be a great way for me to meet girls like me who wanted to volunteer, which was the sole purpose of this organization.
Long story short, I have been a member of Epsilon Sigma Alpha for the past year, and it was the best decision I have made. ESA is both an international and collegiate organization that is directly affiliated with St. Jude and Easter Seals. Each semester we hold several fundraisers for these charities and participate in the big charity events on campus, including Dance Marathon and Relay for Life. However, St. Jude is ESA’s biggest focus and is one of the hospital’s biggest contributors.
This April, I got the opportunity to visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with my sorority. About 20 of us hopped onto a chartered bus and headed to Memphis to see where a lot of our hard work is going. We have had fundraisers where a patient from St. Jude was the guest of honor, so I had seen how much the hospital helps, but this trip took that to a whole other level.
The hospital is an entire campus just like a university. It is an incredible place filled with incredible people. People from all across the globe go to St. Jude to be treated and to help treat others. They do state of the art research and even have their very own genome lab where they are working on curing not only cancer but other diseases.
But, it was the little things that really stood out to me about the hospital. There is an entire school for the patients and every kind of doctor a patient or family member could need, including a dentist. A patient will not be turned down no matter where they come from, what God they do or don’t believe in, how much money they have, or what the color of their skin is. There is even a two-sided phone that will translate any language to any other language, so patients and doctors can communicate without a translator. I could go on and on about the amazing things in the hospital, but all these little things just showed me how much thought goes into caring for these children.
Along with getting to visit the hospital, we also got to visit their main housing facility, Target House. St. Jude never gives their patients a bill and even houses and feeds them completely free of charge. The housing units are incredible. There are rooms for children of all ages to play and hang out with all of the latest technology and games, and there is even a playground outside. The apartments are perfect size for a family of four and come completely furnished.
Everything St. Jude does is to ensure that the family and sick child are given the best possible treatment whether it is chemo or art class. They want to make this horrible illness as painless as possible for everyone involved.
Visiting St. Jude really opened my eyes to how much good I am doing in ESA. I got to see first-hand how strong those kids with cancer are and how hard our organization works to keep them fighting. Not only am I meeting some incredible women in college, but I know I am also making an incredible difference that is making me a better person.