Club Spotlight: Alpha Phi Omega, they put the community in community service
“We just have really strong friendships in our chapter,” said Hannah Ferrugio, president of Alpha Phi Omega (APO) and a senior speech-language-hearing sciences major. “We have the whole big-little relationship, really close family trees and it’s just a really nice way to get involved and have a community on campus.”
APO is a co-ed fraternity that focuses on community service. Hofstra’s chapter of APO includes 64 members, all of whom support not only the community on campus and off, but also their own community.
This close-knit group of students share a love of helping people and organizations at Hofstra and on Long Island. Many members join APO after missing their involvement in community service in high school.
“I felt like something was missing in college,” said Haley Kulesza, a senior psychology major and secretary of APO. “When I joined APO, it was a great way to get back to my roots of doing service.”
Something that draws a lot of members to APO is the fact that there is so much variety in the organizations they can volunteer for. APO offers its members around five to 10 hours of service every week. Each member of APO is expected to complete 20 hours of service each semester; however, many go above and beyond that requirement.
“Something that’s nice about APO – and that’s different from other Greek organizations – is that we have so many events going on all semester,” Ferrugio said. “You can really pick and choose what events you want to do [based on] what makes you happy.”
“We do a lot of nice things for good people who need it, so that’s what it’s all about,” said Gordon Curry, a sophomore psychology major on the membership committee.
One of Kulesza’s favorite events from last semester was visiting ELIJA Farm, an organization that helps to teach individuals on the autism spectrum life skills.
“They have a market every week. They teach them how to bag lettuce, ring customers up and work with different people. They teach them how to cook, bake different goods and then they get to sell them to actual customers, which is great,” Kulesza said. “We got to help harvest some of the produce that they grow on the farm and we helped them set up for their market ... It was hands-on service, which was great ... It was great to go somewhere, get our hands dirty, help people and see how we can actually make their days.”
Another hands-on event APO frequently volunteers at is the Community Solidarity Food Share, which happens every Sunday at the Hempstead Transit Center.
“Most stores will take their old produce and give it to people in the community, so we separate that and give it to people,” said Nirvana Narayan, a senior community health major and APO’s vice president of fellowship. “A lot of people are super grateful for it and every time I go there someone’s like, ‘I can make a meal for my family now.’ It’s really small, but really rewarding.”
Members of APO are also able to make a difference in the community by holding events on campus, like the PB&J event they do throughout the year. This is one of junior journalism major and APO Vice President of Membership Emily Green’s favorite events.
“It always seems to be a really easy and fun way for us to make an impact in our local community,” Green said. “You can just jam out to music while having an assembly line making peanut butter and jelly.”
APO supports each other in any way possible. The members describe their brothers as their best friends and their family. As such, they work to help each other provide community service to organizations that are important to each individual.
“We’re a super welcoming community on campus and it’s really nice to have friendly faces on campus and to see another brother on campus in their letters,” Ferrugio said. “It makes Hofstra’s campus feel even smaller and it gives people a nice place to feel like they belong.”
“One thing that makes us different than any other Greek [organization] is that we accept everybody,” Green said.
To join APO, potential members must attend one information session, one service event and one fellowship throughout the recruitment process. This semester’s recruitment week takes place from Monday, Feb. 25, to Sunday, March 3. They look forward to adding more members to the APO family.
“Our chapter has now gotten so large, you literally can’t go into a single building on campus and not see someone from APO,” Green said. “It makes you feel connected anywhere on campus.”
Curry added onto Green’s sentiment, “It makes Hofstra more of a home.”