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UNT Greek organizations aid in construction of Eureka 2 Project

UNT Greek organizations aid in construction of Eureka 2 Project

Volunteers fill the Eureka 2 construction site as they continue construction on the playground on Sunday, November 15, 2015. Photo by Kristen Watson/DRC

UNT Greek organizations aid in construction of Eureka 2 Project
November 15
22:27 2015

Andrea Czobar | Staff Writer


Three Greek houses at UNT are breaking the mold and are trying to change the meaning of what “going Greek” is all about.

Their nontraditional journey began as an idea among several Zeta Tau Alpha sisters. Rather than build a temporary parade float for UNT’s Homecoming in October, the sorority partnered with other Greek life organizations to fund an organization in Denton.

From the money they would have spent decorating the float, ZTA, Pi Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Phi raised $3,750 to help pay for Eureka 2 playground equipment. The houses also pledged a collective 820 hours of community service to assist in the week-long community rebuild, which ended Sunday.

“The Homecoming floats have been around so long, we weren’t sure how it would take, but we decided we were going to do it anyway,” ZTA Homecoming chair and development and family studies senior Katie Combs said.

ZTA president and social work senior Brittany Seal first heard about the Eureka 2 Project in a major-related class. The ZTA sisters immediately adopted her idea and reached out to the Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) and Delta Sigma Phi fraternities for their involvement.

Once the Eureka 2 Project had been finalized, efforts were shared equally among all three organizations to bring the project to life. Combs contacted Eureka 2 volunteer coordinator Stefanie Lindlau, who expressed the need for volunteers during the week-long community rebuild.

“I love that they chose to do something to benefit the whole community,” Lindlau said. “This is being done 100 percent through community efforts and donations. The playground would not get done without that help.”

The original Eureka playground, located at South Lakes Park, was in decay and did not pass park requirements. This year marked the end of its 20-year life expectancy. With the second-nearest park located in Frisco, the beloved Denton landmark was in desperate need of a makeover.

As of Sunday, the Eureka project has been able to raise $434, 046 of its goal of $500,000.The playground will be fully accessible for kids with all disabilities. A merry-go-round and a zip line, both with wheelchair-adaptive seating, will be featured at the renovated park.

DSP president John Andrews said a community service idea had been mentioned at his fraternity’s homecoming meetings, but no concrete action had taken place until ZTA came into the picture.

“Rebuilding this 20-year-old park will allow Denton residents and families an environment where they can build memories and return after many generations,” Andrews said.

The float that the three houses came up with only consisted of a few painted boards.  At the Homecoming parade, more than 150 house members walked proudly alongside a banner that displayed the Eureka 2 project logo, the hours of community service pledged by each house and the amount of money raised to donate.

The chapters later released a formal statement through social media sharing further details of the project.

“Total Frat Move got ahold of it, and it exploded,” Combs said. “We didn’t expect it to blow up this big.”

Following the immense feedback and media coverage the houses received, the Homecoming supervisor established weekly meetings to restructure Homecoming traditions. These meetings encourage efforts from both UNT and the Greek community to discuss how they will move forward in the future.

Some fraternity leaders are already comfortable with straying from Greek life traditions in order to focus on other philanthropic acts.

As class president his senior year of high school, PIKE president and public relations senior Jarrett Way  abandoned Homecoming decorating to donate to the family of a deceased alumni.

“Imagine if all the houses joined together and participated in a service project they are passionate for next year,” Way said. “The scale and impact would be huge.”

Not every Greek organization is the same, and the long-standing negative connotations have put limits on houses that aim toward philanthropy.

“Combating this [perception] by actively doing work all year round and make it apparent in the community that everyone is involved will help fight the perception and show who we really are,” Way said.

More information about the playground can be found at the Eureka 2 website.

Featured Image: Volunteers fill the Eureka 2 construction site as they continue construction on the Eureka 2 playground Sunday. Kristen Watson | DRC

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