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Newsletter > November 2002 > "IMPORTANCE OF PHILANTHROPY"
IMPORTANCE OF PHILANTHROPY
Timothy M. Burke, Manley & Burke
Greek organizations have a long history of extensive charitable endeavors. Such philanthropic activity helps define the involved fraternity or sorority as an expressive association subject to First Amendment Freedom of Association rights. One unique example, among the many that exist in the Greek world, is Pi Beta Phi.
Long before the national park existed and tourists discovered the area, in 1912 Pi Beta Phi entered the Great Smoky Mountains to launch its Settlement School national philanthropy in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The fraternity opened the first public school and health center and created a cottage industry marketing the wares of mountain weavers through Pi Phi’s chapters and alum clubs.
[The National Interfraternity Conference (NIC) estimates that members of collegiate fraternities and sororities donate 10,000,000 volunteer hours a year to charitable activities.]
Today the elementary school in Gatlinburg is operated by the County School Board on property deeded or leased from the fraternity. Still named Pi Beta Phi School, it makes frequent use of the Greek letters πßΦ with t-shirts hailing “πßΦ Pride” and bumper stickers declaring “My Son [or Daughter] is a πßΦ Honor Student.”
Pi Beta Phi’s Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is located on property adjacent to the school. It attracts artists and would-be artists from around the county offering modern facilities teaching woodturning, pottery, blacksmithing and other arts and crafts.
Chapters should take philanthropic activity seriously. Not only is it a part of their Greek heritage, but it is equally important in preserving their future.