During the month of November, the Asian-American Fraternity, Lambda Phi Epsilon, at the University of Massachusetts has been partnering with the UMass Extension and 4-H program in support of the 4-H club’s annual food drive.
Lambda Phi Epsilon, whose principles as a fraternity focus on wisdom, honor and courage, reached out to the UMass Extension and 4-H club to partner up and follow through with plans to expand on their mission of community service.
The president of Lambda Phi Epsilon called and met with the 4-H club on Monday, Nov. 16. The fraternity helped the 4-H club clean out their office by removing machinery and files and expressed interest in joining forces in the food drive.
This is the third annual food drive for the brothers of Lambda Phi Epsilon, and they’re expecting to collect 11 tons of goods, which is approximately 22,000 pounds of food. Last year, the 4-H club collected more than six tons of non-perishable goods.
Thomas Waskiewicz, a 4-H educator in the UMass Extension program, said that the brothers of Lambda Phi Epsilon were “great to work with,” and that the members of the 4-H club are “enthusiastic and motivated youth working to benefit the UMass campus and 4-H program across the state.”
Waskiewicz stated that each year they increase the amount of food raised as need increases. As part of their partnership, Lambda Phi Epsilon has scattered donation bins all around campus for students in the UMass community to actively participate in the spirit of giving back. The food donated will then be given to local shelters, such as the Amherst Survivor Center and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield, Mass., as well as other shelters serving people in need this holiday season. The food will be delivered the first week in December. Waskiewicz says that the need is greater than ever, explaining, “They [the shelters] are getting demands from even people with two incomes that are struggling with food costs and energy costs, not just the homeless.” The 4-H program has also partnered with Cumberland Farms, with donation bins in their stores across the state.
In the future, 4-H plans to reach out to other fraternities and sororities on campus, furthering their agenda geared towards providing services to the community.
Waskiewicz said in the past, 4-H, which stands for head, heart, hands and health, has donated time to visiting patients in Shriner’s Hospital in Springfield and nursing homes. The group has also collected survival packets for individuals that have been in homeless shelters. The survival packets usually include items such as socks, toothpaste and other essentials.
The 4-H program has also worked with animal rescue groups, animal shelters, blood drives and possesses an extensive list of community service involvement. They will “continue to reach out as need emerges,” said Waskiewicz.
The 4-H program was started in 1902, making it 107 years old. One of the founding locations for the 4-H program was UMass Amherst, known then as the Massachusetts Agricultural College.
UMass Extension is part of the UMass Outreach program. According to its website Umass.edu/outreach, the UMass Outreach program focuses on the idea that “the relationship of the University of Massachusetts Amherst to the communities, groups and individuals with whom it creates meaningful engagements is a dynamic and flexible one. Faculty members at the University increasingly work with community leaders, professional decision-makers and creative thinkers throughout the Commonwealth to build relationships of value to all partners.”
Waskiewicz, a UMass alumni, has worked with the 4-H for 27 years. “We have a lot of faith in our UMass students,” said Waskiewicz. He plans on partnering with Lambda Phi Epsilon in the future, and would like the fraternities and sororities on campus to reach out to 4-H programs across the state in not only food drive events, but also in situations in which 4-H members are working with young students to encourage them to take interest in college. These types of events are known as college tours, and according to Waskiewicz, these tours are to “build that link so that we can bring a diverse group of students from across the country to campus to show them the college experience”.
Future 4-H projects in the area will include developing programs for middle school students in Springfield. Current UMass students that would like to get involved can visit the website Mass4h.org or contact Waskiewicz at his office number (413) 545-0611.
Jessica Bonheur can be reached at [email protected]