December 21, 2007
From Dec. 17 to Dec. 22, 16 men from Delta Upsilon Fraternity will be embarking on a trip to Biloxi, Miss., to help rebuild residential houses destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. In conjunction with the Gulf Coast chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the 16 fraternity members will fund a 13-hour drive in their own cars to Mississippi just days after finals and return home just days before Christmas.
The men will stay in an old high school football stadium called " Yankie Stadium," which has been converted into a place to house volunteers aiding in recovery. They will help home owners both put their houses back together and build brand new ones for the ones that could not be salvaged. Ben Kantner, senior in Business and member of the board of counselors of Delta Upsilon, said the opportunity to do community work is one of the pillars of the fraternity, no matter where the service may be.
"People don't seem to know what happened to families in other coast states other than Louisiana," he said. "If we have the means and the opportunity to help those less fortunate than us, we have to seize the chance to help better someone's life."
Brian Hyosaka, sophomore in LAS, philanthropy chair at the time of planning and co-leader of the trip, said he expects the ser¬vice project to be an eye-opening experience. "The place looked like a war zone, and these were people just like us," he said. "So we have to help, and hopefully we will set the example for other organizations to help those with fewer resources to help themselves. This kind of thing can be contagious."
In a place where school support has drastically declined and half of the populations are still with¬out their original homes, the most clear and ultimate goal is to get people's houses back, Kantner said. Chris Bordeaux, senior in LAS and former philanthropy chair, said the fraternity goes where help is needed.
"We have done many things such as ice skating fundraising events and Adopt-A-Highway, and we will continue to try and make a difference," he said. "And it feels good to know that you have helped someone else. The results are always worth the work." Although most fraternities and sororities focus on local causes and charities, helping outside the immediate community was an opportunity that was special to Delta Upsilon, Bordeaux said.
"Areas in New Orleans and Mississippi still need funding for their recovery and besides what they put forth themselves, they have no help," Kantner said. "Plus there are a lot of home owners that will need extra help with their home equity, so this will mean more to us and the home owners than just helping build some houses."