WORCESTER, Mass.–Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) Pi Zeta chapter of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity received a Community Engagement Award April 6 at the Colleges of Worcester Consortium Inc.'s third annual "Celebration of Higher Education in Central Massachusetts" at Mechanics Hall.
A Community Engagement Award is presented to individual and groups of students from Consortium-member institutions that provided within the past year exemplary service to their communities. In the past 16 years, Lambda Chi Alpha brothers have collected more than 1 million pounds of food for the Friendly House Community Shelter in Worcester and the Worcester County Food Bank; last fall, about 150,000 pounds of food were donated. The fraternity's 98 brothers volunteered their time last year and visited more than 10,000 homes throughout the city to drop off donation bags with fliers to encourage contributions at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The group teamed up with the Worcester Sharks hockey team and the office of Worcester County Sheriff Guy W. Glodis to assist families in need.
"The work of Lambda Chi Alpha, along with the work of other WPI student organizations, is a valued contribution to the Worcester community," said Emily Perlow, WPI's associate director of Student Activities and Greek Life Programs. "The thousands of pounds of food raised through the annual food drive are desperately needed in these challenging economic times. Agencies, such as Friendly House, would not serve the community as well without the support of WPI students."
Through their generous donations last fall, Pi Zeta members helped feed more than 4 percent of the city's population. The donations placed WPI's chapter at third out of the amount of donations collected by the fraternity's 193 chapters across the United States and Canada.
Friendly House is a multi-service community center at 36 Wall St., founded in 1920 to fill the educational, recreational, and social service needs of Worcester's Grafton Hill neighborhood. Today, it offers a variety of programs for low-to moderate-income residents of Worcester County. WPI students, faculty, and staff have been involved with Friendly House for 40 years, providing volunteer services, running student mentoring programs, and organizing food drives.
In addition to food and toy drives, WPI student project teams have helped Friendly House with the design and plans for a new energy-efficient building and recommendations for parking, developed efficiency-based space and work-flow plans, and managed the installation of a new computer system. The computer project saved Friendly House thousands of dollars while providing WPI students with a rigorous academic experience. Furthermore, for the past decade, a program called "Exploradreams" has offered Friendly House youth ages 8-13 with mentoring, tutoring, and early exposure to college life. Through this program, WPI students have the opportunity to share their exceptional math and science skills with children, and bond with them through learning and recreational activities. At weekly sessions on campus, WPI students tutor Friendly House kids, play math or spelling games with them, or help them with their homework. "Exploradreams" and the "RoboKids" program give Friendly House students the chance to explore educational activities outside of the classroom.