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Greeks Make A Delta Difference

November 17, 2011

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Last year, juniors Sara R. Drury and Lukas W. Meyer were looking for something to do during DePauw's fall break.

“Everybody goes home for fall break, but we thought that was kind of boring,” Meyer says. “We wanted to do something different.”

Rather than head back to their Chicago-area homes, Drury and Meyer pooled money with nine of their friends to take a trip south. Sound familiar so far? That’s where the spring break similarities end. No, their “week off” was spent at work – building homes in the Mississippi Delta with Habitat for Humanity.

Facing another fall break, Drury and Meyer decided to go back this year, and this time with a larger group. Ten of their friends from Sigma Chi fraternity and Pi Beta Phi sorority, and one independent student, joined them in their return to the Delta.

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The students raised $3,000 to pay for travel and food, and for lodging in a Habitat-owned dorm during the week. They were split between worksites in the neighboring towns of Jonestown and Coahoma until the final day of their trip, when they joined together to finish the Jonestown house, advancing the recipient family’s move-in date by nearly a month. At the end of the week, with half of their funds remaining, they donated the rest to the West Tallahatchie Habitat for Humanity.

103096Besides the new construction, they had a chance to visit a family whose home they had helped build in 2010, and to volunteer alongside friends they made during their first trip.

“Almost everybody wants to return after they’ve been there,” Drury says. “It’s like you’re visiting relatives.”

People there are beginning to recognize students in DePauw clothing. Whether helping out with a dead car battery or inviting them for food, Drury and Meyer say they felt welcome at every turn.

One night, the students headed to Ground Zero Blues Club in nearby Clarksdale, where they met the club’s part-owner, Bill Luckett, a local businessman and candidate in the 2011 Mississippi gubernatorial elections. 103099Meyer, a musician himself, was invited to sing with the band (right), and afterward Luckett invited the students into the private apartment of actor Morgan Freeman, another part-owner of the club. Next time, he promised, Morgan would be there to meet them.

Drury and Meyer are already preparing for that return trip, and they don’t intend for their graduation in 2013 to be the end of things. They hope to train apprentices to plan future trips and maintain the DePauw-Delta connection. Though the region and its people now have personal meaning for the students who have traveled there, Meyer says that helping others can be just as helpful to oneself.

“When you go out on a service trip, it might not always be the happiest experience, but it’s certainly the most memorable,” he says. “In many ways, we’re also getting to know our own capabilities.”

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