This weekend, the sights and sounds of a carnival will fill the Sunken Garden as William & Mary’s Greek community hosts the Arc of Greater Williamsburg for a day of food, fun and friendship.
W&M Greek Life has been involved with the Arc for more than a decade, and they recently received the organization’s “Volunteer Group of the Year” award for outstanding service.
“This was the first year of the volunteer awards, and W&M Greek Life was the clear first choice for this award,” said Jennifer Stout, executive director of the Arc.
The Arc of Greater Williamsburg provides support for local adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. W&M Greek Life has partnered with the organization for at least 14 years, with hundreds of students providing volunteer support to the organization throughout the year. W&M Greek Life also hosts two special events for Arc clients: the Fall Costume Ball and the springtime W&M Arc Carnival.
“W&M Greek Life is our largest and most dedicated group of volunteers and we are forever grateful for their service to the Arc,” said Stout. “Thank you, W&M Greek Life, for all that you do and for helping us begin the tradition of our yearly ‘Volunteer Awards Celebration.’ This partnership truly sets the highest standard!”
Alex Greenspan ’15, vice president for community service for the Inter-Fraternity Council, and Gabi Levi ’16, vice president for community service for the Panhellenic Council, help organize events with the Arc, including this weekend’s carnival.
“It was great to be recognized by the Arc for our close relationship,” said Greenspan, who accepted the award on behalf of W&M Greek Life. “I was honored and humbled to get the chance to accept since the award presumably was to honor the efforts of those who served in my office before me, and on a larger scale, the time devoted by countless men and women in Greek Life on campus. But, it got me really excited to build on this terrific history of service. My ultimate goal is to make community service a much more conspicuous part of Greek culture.”
Service was a founding principle for all of the sorority and fraternity chapters on campus, said Levi.
“As some of the most well-educated people in the world, we have a responsibility to give back,” she said. “Not only is the Arc of Greater Williamsburg an incredible organization, it also helps remind us why our chapters were started. Arc gives Greek Life the ability to get involved with the Williamsburg community, and it's just so fun!”
Greenspan agreed, adding that Arc clients are “a joy to work with.”
“Some community service projects seem like a sacrifice, or like unpaid work. Volunteering with the Arc is much different. It's tough to get students who haven't volunteered to understand this, but there is no better group better with whom to play bingo, watch movies, do fitness, or have a carnival, than the Arc. They're fun and extremely appreciative.”
Greek Life also benefits from their interaction with the Arc, Greenspan said, noting that it adds “another dimension of brotherhood/sisterhood within chapters.”
“It really draws chapters together on a more personal level to volunteer together, and the same could be said between chapters, for Greek Life as a whole,” he said.
Nearly a third of William & Mary’s Greek community has
signed up to volunteer at this weekend’s carnival, a sign that the chapters
have made their partnership with the Arc a priority, said Greenspan.
“It's been rewarding to see the way chapters have made this a priority; they really seem to understand the benefit of serving the community together as a brotherhood/sisterhood,” he said. “I can only imagine this effect will be more profoundly recognized when over 400 students come together to make a memorable day for our friends at the Arc.”