The Heart of Our Service
Hi! My name is Lauren and I have the honor of serving as DG’s 2017 Vice President: Foundation. This means that I handle our chapter’s involvement in supporting our national philanthropy, Service for Sight. I coordinate all events and oversee fundraising events. The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) is a residential school here in Austin, Texas for students who are blind or visually impaired. The Beta Eta chapter of DG hosts parties for TSBVI students every month at our house! We serve snacks and plan crafts and activities for the students. Each party has a different theme. My personal favorite is the Halloween party because the students come dressed in costumes and trick-or-treat throughout the house. These parties are by far my favorite of all of our service events! Our members also volunteer weekly at goal ball, track practice, cheerleading practice, and other sporting events. A senior member of Beta Eta also started a Coding Club where members go to TSBVI and teach the students how to write computer code. Beta Eta also gets to volunteer at school events such as prom, track meets, talent shows, parents weekend, and more.
We host numerous fundraising events, such as Anchor Splash each fall at which fraternities and other male organizations compete in a synchronized swimming contest. Teams are judged for choreography, costumes, and overall spirit. Anchor Bash, hosted the same week of Anchor Splash, is a male beauty pageant held at the Delta Gamma house. During Anchor Bash, male organizations nominate members to compete for titles such as Most Beautiful Eyes, Best Rap, Best Legs, and more. We also have Anchor Slam in the spring where we team up with another male organization on campus and host a dodgeball tournament. We work to raise as much money as possible to donate to the Delta Gamma Foundation and to our local philanthropy, TSBVI, in order to make the biggest community impact as possible. Delta Gamma also organizes a biannual Lectureship series; we host influential university guests and the event is free to the public. Through the Delta Gamma Lectureship, Beta Eta has brought numerous key speakers, including Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan Hero upon whom the movie Hotel Rwanda was based, Charlotte Benson, founder of the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation, Collins Touhy, real-life sister of The Blind Side’s Michael Oher, Jerry Greenfield, creator of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, and Mia Hamm, world-renowned USA-team and Olympics soccer champion. We fund our Lectureship Series through an event we have once a semester, Dessert with DG, during which people can spend $5 and eat endless desserts! We also work with Guide Dogs of Texas, an organization that provides Texas residents who are blind or visually impaired with a trained service dog. Beta Eta has raised money through fundraisers such as Amplify Austin and we help with PR when needed.
Service for Sight has held a place in my heart since day one. I found my passion during my sophomore year of high school when I started taking American Sign Language. The first time I was able to sign to someone who was deaf was when I knew I wanted to pursue a career path in the field. I decided to enter college and major in Communication Science and Disorders, with plans to attend graduate school and earn my AuD in order to become an Audiologist, so I could work with individuals who are deaf or hearing-impaired. As I was going through recruitment three short years ago, I knew I wanted to be a Delta Gamma because of the passion the members had about their philanthropy, Service for Sight, which is helping people who are blind or visually impaired. I have had so many touching experiences through my work with TSBVI. There are a few students at TSBVI who are deaf-blind—they communicate by feeling your hands as you use sign language and reply back in sign. At the DG House TSBVI parties, these students must stay with a staff member who knows American Sign Language, because many people do not know the language. I have had the pleasure of working with these students during my time in Delta Gamma, and they are ecstatic when they get to hang out with someone who is not a staff member. I will never forget the first student who was deaf-blind who I got to spend time with, or the many after her. I randomly met a past student who attended TSBVI for 13 years last summer in my small town and when I told him I was a Delta Gamma at UT, he was so excited! He said that his favorite part about going to TSBVI was going to the Delta Gamma house for parties. We keep up with each other through social media and catch up often! The real heart of my position is in the work we do one-on-one with the students at TSBVI.
Through our philanthropic activities, we as a chapter are able to see the impact we make on the community and it is by far my favorite part about being a Delta Gamma. I am forever indebted to Delta Gamma for providing me with these experiences and allowing me to grow as a person through service.