While 2020 has quickly become a challenging year, there are those who wish to use this as a way to unify the community and work to secure the betterment of a cause. A fundraiser organized by the Valpo chapter of Gamma Phi Beta aimed to do just that.
The fundraiser was in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and raised money for the Chicago Freedom School. The fundraiser ran from June 3 through June 11.
Chicago Freedom School is a non-profit organization that aims to promote the community of both youth and adults alike in the education of civil liberties, engagement, and political movements. They are responsible for organizing peaceful protests in Chicago and youth programs. They also raise money to help businesses owned by people of color to grow and thrive.
According to Gamma Phi Beta member, Bella Limouris, the Chicago Freedom School was chosen for the fundraiser due to its proximity to Valpo as well as the school’s current funds.
“We wanted to pick something closer to home and did not have as much money as other organizations,” Limouris said.
According to Limouris, Gamma Phi Beta wanted to demonstrate the Fraternity and Sorority Life [FSL] community commitment towards the dialogue that has been happening throughout the country. They also used the fundraiser to take a stand against racial issues.
“It [the fundraiser] was a great way to put out a statement and establish an allyship,” Limouris said.
The idea for the fundraiser started the Gamma Phi Beta E-Board reached out to Assistant Dean of Students, Carolyn Whittier, to suggest a Panhellenic fundraiser and form a plan to share their fundraiser with the rest of the community.
In order to reach a broader audience, Gamma Phi Beta had set up a fundraising page via MightyCause.com. Through this, they were able to outsource their money raising efforts on a large scale and connect with members of the Valpo community to donate money to the cause.
The fundraiser was organized by Gamma Phi Beta on behalf of Valpo FSL. The chapter had reached out to the other Valpo fraternities and sororities, combining their chapters for one singular goal.
According to Whittier, FSL had worked together to help to spread awareness of the fundraiser. The organizations used graphics on social media via Instagram as well as their individual websites to further spread the word.
“We wanted to ensure that students knew all the ways that they could participate,” Whittier said.
According to Whittier, the FSL community has also been supporting the Black Lives Matter movement through education and resources shared on social media.
“All of the dialogue that is happening around our country right now around race and race relations and helping people to become anti-racists, all of those pieces are critical,” Whittier said, “They’re critical to college students not just at Valparaiso University, but everywhere. If we have the opportunity to influence any form of the population at our university to create a better environment for our African-American students or other students of color we need to be doing that.”
The community was able to raise approximately $3,100, which will go directly to the Chicago Freedom School, exceeding Gamma Phi Beta’s original goal amount of $1,500. While Gamma Phi Beta had organized the fundraiser, the gift was donated on behalf of the Valpo FSL community.
“We are a community that values racial diversity and does not support the racial injustice that is happening in our country,” Whittier said.