What is your impact?

by Whitney Swesey

It’s time for the competition to start. About this time of year, every group on campus starts battling to out-raise and out-serve the chapter next door.  This competition might help us do more, but is it helping us do better?

I remember a specific moment last semester when I congratulated a student who raised over $1000 for a philanthropic event. Her response was, “it doesn’t matter, we didn’t win.” When did winning the competition become more important than the benefit of the dollars raised or the impact of the hours served?

I’m pretty sure my creed says, “to those whom my life may touch in slight measure, may I give graciously of what is mine,” not “for those whom my life may touch in slight measure, may I do enough to beat the other chapters and win the big shiny trophy.”

What has more meaning: the trophy?  Your new dance routine?  The cool costume? The press release?  Your name in the paper?

Or is it the smile on the kid’s face?  The squeeze of an old man’s hand?  The new drawing on your wall from the children’s home? The trail you just cleared or the wheelchair ramp you just built? Do we really feel better about the win than about enriching lives?

Fraternal organizations were created to change the world by bringing noble principles to life in our communities. We should be known for the lasting impact we make through service and philanthropic donations. We should strive to bring peoples’ dreams to life and change their world forever.

Next year, some other organization will top you in the competition. You might earn bragging rights for twelve short months, but no one really cares whether you won. They care about the money, food, or awareness you raised. They care about the lives you touched.

When you graduate, what will you take with you? Years from now, will reach out to grab the trophy, or the picture of a person who beamed with delight because you spent a day with them.

The impact matters more. Let’s get it right from the start.