UNITE is an umbrella organization under the Panhellenic Council at the University of Connecticut that focuses on issues sorority women face on a daily basis. These issues include positive body image, suicide prevention, stress relief, fostering positive relationships, bullying and many others. The mission of UNITE is to create bonds between – and to unite – sorority women from different chapters and to create an overall sense of support and sisterhood within the Panhellenic community.
UNITE adopted the Circle of Sisterhood as their official philanthropy in 2012. Just as each individual chapter has their own philanthropy, they believed that having a collective cause that all sorority women could support would create a better sense of community, and also give their organization “something bigger than ourselves” to work for. The 2012 executive board researched many organizations and eventually came across the Circle of Sisterhood, it was a perfect fit. The Circle of Sisterhood uses this amazing network of women to change the lives of women and girls, and this really spoke to the women involved in UNITE.
In January 2013, UNITE restructured their executive board to create a vice president of fundraising and philanthropy. This allowed them to have a strong focus on Circle of Sisterhood. Katie Belusa was lucky enough to be chosen as the “guinea pig” for this new position, and as an executive board, UNITE was able to implement their first-ever philanthropy event: a watermelon-eating contest. After many months of careful planning, we were able to pull off a very successful event and raise some money for Circle of Sisterhood.
They had 21 teams participate and had six rounds of competitive eating, with one participant from each team participating in each round. And lucky for them, ESPN happened to be on campus to film for the UConn vs. Michigan football game, and they were able to come film the event and feature clips on College Game Day! Kappa Alpha Theta won the sorority bracket, while Beta Theta Pi won the men’s.
In addition to the contest itself, they were able to get pizzas, cookies, and other food donated. They charged $5 “admission”, which got attendees unlimited food, and entered them to win various prizes. This took dedication, “I spent a lot of time over the summer contacting local businesses about donated gift certificates and other products, so we were able to give away gift certificates to local favorite restaurants, as well as free Redbox rental coupons and other prizes,” Katie said.
They raised over $1,600 for the Circle of Sisterhood. In addition, UNITE has sold t-shirts, stickers, and buttons, with all proceeds going towards the Circle of Sisterhood. We also have an online donation page, www.crowdrise.com/uconnunite, where our UNITE Executive Board and UNITE delegates from all nine sororities have teamed up to raise even more money for the Foundation.
Additionally, UConn was fortunate enough to be one of ten schools chosen to send a representative to Senegal to work with Circle of Sisterhood and BuildOn. This past July, their vice president of administration and communication, Elana Katz, was chosen to represent our Panhellenic community.
This week’s blog contributor was Katie Belusa, Vice President of Fundraising and Philanthropy – UNITE. Katie is a member of Delta Zeta Sorority and is studying human development and family studies. She will graduate from the University of Connecticut in 2014!
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