Stetson’s Alpha Chi Omega Sorority Raises Funds to Aid Local Domestic Violence Shelter

Portrait of fundraising success, from left: Stephanie Cervino, Ada Ludyjan-Ybarra, Arianna Frounder-O’Harrow, Teresa Gonzalez, Abigail Luck, Hannah Campen, Madeline Morrow, Paige Labbe, Tessa Ostrom, Kendall Dearth, Chaylin Harris, Skye Merritt, Melissa Connors, Kristine Rodriguez, Amanda Bedony, Jordan Barlow, Isabella Thomsen, Sophie Chinelli, Sara Hassler, Sarah McCollum, Christina Kapros, Sara Ward, Amalie Ise, Mya Bogers, John DeVaul, Emily Gerard, Jayriliz Leguilla, Alexandria Wells, Mia Bendlin, Kelsey Quackenbush, Maddie Strojie and Jackie Maze.

The sisters at Stetson’s Alpha Chi Omega sorority are walking the walk and talking the talk — to the tune of raising an impressive $31,000 over the past two years for the Beacon Center of Daytona Beach, Volusia County’s only domestic violence shelter. And, importantly, all of the dollars go directly toward the Beacon Center’s day-to-day expenses, such as utilities, renovations and daily needs of the shelter.

From left: Mia Bendlin, Kristine Hewitt (philanthropy adviser) and Amanda Bedony

“Due to the fact that they are a local shelter, this means that all the money we raise impacts them directly,” said Mia Bendlin, senior Sociology major and vice president of Philanthropy at Stetson’s Alpha Chi Omega chapter. “It’s not a nationwide company that will take percentages and put them elsewhere.” 

According to the Alpha Chi Omega national website, “speaking out” about domestic violence is a major initiative of the sorority’s mission.

“Our national philanthropy works with domestic violence awareness, but the amazing thing about it is that each chapter works with a local shelter near their university,” Bendlin added. 

‘Important to Stetson’

Renee DuBois, Stetson’s associate director for Student Organizations and Fraternity and Sorority Involvement, noted that Alpha Chi Omega’s commitment to domestic violence awareness and raising funds helps encourage the other fraternities and sororities on campus to also step up their philanthropy efforts.  

“This chapter has shown that not only once, but two years in a row, they have been able to raise such large amounts of money for such a great cause,” said DuBois. “This initiative is important to Stetson because it shows the impact social fraternities and sororities can have on the local community. Having chapters like Alpha Chi Omega raise such large amounts of money also helps combat the stereotypes of these organizations.”

How Did They Do It?

The Alpha Chi Omega sisters attribute their fundraising success to three main methods: contacting members in the chapter, reaching out to alumni and receiving support from the DeLand community. 

Candidates for “Omega Man” were recognized for their hard work during the chapter’s Philanthropy Week. Part of the fundraising strategy is getting participation from campus fraternities.

Throughout its Philanthropy Week at the beginning of October 2023, the Alpha Chi Omega chapter conducted multiple outreaches to the Stetson community and alumni, as well as family and friends. Most of the money raised came through an online fundraiser, which was open to the public for donations. 

“We had raised over $10,000 before the week started through the online fundraiser,” said Amanda Bedony, a junior Political Science major and assistant vice president of Philanthropy for the chapter. “Through the help of the fraternities’ participation, we also had ‘penny wars,’ which raised a couple hundred dollars.”

At their Golden Lyre Gala, the sorority sisters held a silent auction, with the baskets for sale garnering upward of $3,000 in donations. During each of the past two years, alumni from different chapters have donated anywhere from $100 to a stay at a beachside condo toward the silent auction. 

‘Still Amazed and in Awe’

“I honestly am still amazed and in awe that we have raised so much in the past two years,” Bendlin commented. “We have also had the opportunity to visit the shelter in the past two years, creating an amazing relationship with them. These relationships have developed this chapter’s love for our philanthropy more, and reminded us of who we are working to help.” 

The Alpha Chi Omega sisters aren’t done. In February 2024, they will host a special week to promote healthy relationships and share valuable information and resources around campus and in the community. Plus, in the coming weeks, they will begin planning for next year’s gala and for other fundraising events. 

Concluded Bendlin: “We want to implement things to the best of our ability in the time we have to ensure it has the most impact possible.” 

– Trish Wieland