Alpha Tau Omega’s philanthropy week offers Happy Daze

Versailles freshman Rebekah Alvey, left, Loretto freshman Kelly Peterson, center, and Owensboro freshman Sophia Blair, right, take a picture in front of the “Before I Die” wall during the Happy Daze event hosted by ATO on Friday, Sept. 9 outside of Downing Student Union.

Kalee Chism

Many Greek organizations devote a week to their philanthropy during the year; Alpha Tau Omega fraternity joined this tradition last week with its first Happy Daze Philanthropy Week.

“I think it’s gone amazing, I’m so proud of all of them and all the work they have put into this,” Sarah Stankiewicz, Brandenburg senior and ATO sweetheart, said. “It’s a great cause and it’s a great group of guys trying to make a difference.”

The organization was not sure what to expect in attendance, according to ATO’s chapter president, Andre Dowell.

“I think we knew that with it being our first philanthropy week there might not be a whole lot of attendance, or a lot of people coming to it,” Dowell said. “But I know that if we just keep up the good work and continue this philanthropy week each year that it’ll grow and it’ll be successful each and every year on the Hill.”

This week included events such as fundraising nights at Griff’s, PopWorks and Stackz. Events also included a tabling event about suicide prevention giving students the opportunity to win prizes, an ice cream social hosted in Downing Student Union’s Nite Class and the Before I Die Wall. ATO partnered with the Counseling and Testing Center and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to which all proceeds went.

Dowell said his favorite part of the week was hearing stories from students about suicide prevention and hearing the impact the philanthropy week has made on them and the community.

“I hope students take away the fact that suicide awareness is a very important cause,” Stankiewicz said. Having an aunt commit suicide made Stankiewicz relate to the cause on a personal level; she said people need to be aware of mental illness and suicide and the role they have as a world issue.

ATO is hoping to continue the philanthropy week in the future, expanding and getting the word out to more people.

“I think they will continue it in the future; I think that they’ll extend the wall and make it a bigger thing, do more events throughout the week to make people more aware of everything going on,” Stankiewicz said.

ATO hopes to spread awareness of help and resources both on campus and in the community for people struggling with mental health.

“I’m hoping that they feel if they ever want to be able to speak up when it comes to suicide prevention or awareness that they know we are here for support, and if not then we are here to provide them with resources they may need,” Dowell said.

“We want people to know that at the end of the day there’s always going to be someone there to help you if you’re struggling with anything, whether it be depression or anxiety,” Braden VanMeter, ATO sophomore of Louisville, said. “It’ll all get better eventually, it just takes time.”

Reporter Kalee Chism can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected]