When I went through recruitment last fall, my favorite question to ask each sorority woman was “What does your philanthropy mean to you?” This year when I’m on the other side of recruitment, I hope potential new members ask me this question because it’s something I’m extremely passionate about. Here’s my story.
At three months old, I was diagnosed with a VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) which is basically a hole in my heart. It caused me to not grow as well as other children my age. I had trouble eating and sleeping and it was difficult for me to do physical activities. When I was in fourth grade, at the age of nine, my parents made the decision for me to have open-heart surgery. The surgery was successful and I’ve been healthy ever since. I am proud to show the scar on my chest because it reminds me how brave I was during this difficult time.
You’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with your philanthropy?” Well, Alpha Phi’s philanthropy is the Alpha Phi Foundation which raises money for improving women’s heart health. Every year, the Foundation gives a grant to a different organization that is based on women’s cardiac research. Going through recruitment, each sorority brought something new to the table. I saw all these girls interested in different philanthropies for different reasons. But I just couldn’t connect with any of them. Until I met Alpha Phi. I knew right when I walked in that Alpha Phi was my home. I fell in love with the sisters, their values, but most importantly, their philanthropy. After I joined, I met other sisters who had similar heart conditions and connections with our philanthropy. I loved that I wasn’t the only one born with an unhealthy heart, which was something I couldn’t accept growing up. This past February, my chapter at KSU raised over $30,000 at our annual Red Dress Gala for the Alpha Phi Foundation. I loved that we could come together as a sisterhood and be a part of something bigger than our chapter.
I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. But until I came to college, I could never figure out why I was born with this condition. When I became an Alpha Phi, I realized why I had to have surgery ten years ago.** **My heart condition was truly a gift. It brought me to my home. And I’m thankful every day for my sewn-up heart. It reminds me why I love raising money to help other women have healthy hearts. It’s what philanthropy means to me. So I’m asking, what does philanthropy mean to you?