Greeks Visit Utica Soup Kitchen

This spring, the Panhellenic Association, a group comprised of various members of each of Colgate’s three sororities on campus, began a partnership with the Utica soup kitchen Hope House, which they hope will continue into this and upcoming years.

On a broad scale, the goal of the Panhellenic Association is to acquaint members of Colgate’s sororities with each other and to find a way to directly assist the local community. With these aims in mind, the two philanthropy chairs of the association, sophomore Jackie Klepper and junior Shelly Forster, jumped into the search for a new endeavor.

After getting in touch with Colgate Hunger Outreach Program (CHOP), another student organization which is run through the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE), the group watched their plan fall into place. Sorority members made trips to Hope House on March 14 and March 28.

Hope House, a safe haven for the hungry and homeless, was established in 1992 and has fed over 80,246 individuals. Over 70 local parishes are involved in donating meals on a monthly basis that help ensure the prosperity of Hope House.

Visits to Hope House were a lesson in communication, community and appreciation for the women who went on the two trips. The Panhellenic Association is a student-run group grounded by its cohesive and community-promoting nature, and, after their visits, the Colgate women were happily surprised to see that Hope House was a mirror image of their own association. The workers and the attendees of Hope House shared a social and communal relationship similar to the one upheld by the Panhellenic Association.

The people who visited and worked at the soup kitchen were familiar with each other and interested in exchanging not just food, but life stories and shared interests. The Colgate group was, at first, taken aback by the fact that not everyone who attended Hope House was homeless and living on the streets. Some had lost their jobs, while others were local veterans or men and women who had simply been struck by a period of bad luck.

While senior Sarah Finn, a member of the Panhellenic Association said it was “sad to see people in such dire conditions,” she believes that “the experience was positive.” The volunteers were split into two groups, those cooking and those serving, and each group confirmed that they had positive experiences when talking to both the workers and the patrons of Hope House.

The people present at Hope House were equally as interested in Colgate as the students were eager to get to know them. By communicating and redefining perceptions of Colgate, the students found themselves holding a greater admiration for the university and their opportunities as students.

Forster, one of the philanthropic chairs of the council, watched the attendess of Hope House swell with happiness when the women brought in a grocery bag that contained chai tea. To the people at Hope House, the tea was “something extra,” and Forster recognized the appreciation for a special and different addition to the traditional soup kitchen menu.

Like the chai, the association’s presence served as “something extra” to the usual environment of the Hope House on those two nights. The Panhellenic Association hopes to hold many similar trips in the near future.