The college life experience provides opportunities to explore multiple facets of involvement, creativity and community — sororities and fraternities are a part of this for many students at Colorado State University.
Alpha Phi Omega is a co-ed fraternity that goes beyond what could be considered the “norm” for a fraternity. The group’s three cardinal principles — leadership, friendship and service — are what guides the members throughout their college experience.
“Our focus is on building that leadership role in people while serving others and making friends while we do it,” APO Vice President Jessica Smolenske said. “It’s completely changed my life. Now I have a purpose, and it’s boosted my leadership experience, too.”
The organization, which has been recognized at CSU since 1947 and became co-ed in 1976, has a focus that lies in giving back to the CSU community and beyond.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of the rescue mission,” said Hannah Baltz-Smith, Northern Colorado community and events specialist. “We need volunteers for our evening meals, and that’s where Alpha Phi Omega comes in to place.”
Baltz-Smith said that three APO members come in twice a week to volunteer, and they are responsible for serving meals to the people at the rescue mission.
“Our main goal is to try and do more service each semester,” APO President Ashley Todd said. “We raised 12,000 this last year, which is the most we’ve raised.”
Todd said that the CSU Alpha Phi Omega is the only chapter of the national organization that donates all the money they raise.
“When I first joined, it was weird because I didn’t know anyone,” Todd said. “But then getting into it, I realized I was with a group of people that wanted to give back and have a purpose in college.”
Fort Collins Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity, McKinney Backpacks and the Girl and Boy Scouts of America are only a few of the organizations the fraternity has volunteered for.
“It’s been amazing working with them,” Baltz-Smith said. “I just spoke to the coordinator who works with them, and she can’t say enough good things about them. They show up on time ready to work and stay until the job is done — a great blessing to the rescue mission.”
At CSU, the organization has picked up trash on campus and contributed to the little shop of physics.
“Next semester, we are doing a fundraising event where our fundraising chairs will be auctioned off as volunteers for teachers and other bidders who say they need help with something, and we will volunteer,” Todd said. “We try to hit as many things as possible.”
Another goal for the organization is to better represent fraternities.
“We try to volunteer as many places as possible, but are sometimes rejected because people don’t want to work with fraternities,” Todd said. “We work hard for the community, for our reputation and for our requirements, and we have fun doing it.”
Smolenske said the organization is more of a service fraternity than a social one.
“We are very different,” Smolenske said. “A lot of Greek life have one focus on the same group all the time, but we work with tons.”
Collegian Reporter Ashley Haberman can be reached at email@example.com.