Alpha Chi Omega (AXO), Beta Lambda Chapter at the University of Arizona has long displayed a deep commitment to tackling the critical issue of domestic violence. That commitment earned it the title of Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy.
The 320-member sorority has operated at UArizona since 1930, except when its low membership kept it inactive from 2008 to 2013. In the early 1990s it focused its philanthropic work on the former Brewster Center Domestic Violence Services Inc., as Tracey Rowley, Sorority adviser, recalls her time as an AXO member.
Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse formed by combining nonprofits doing the same work, and AXO continued supporting the cause when it reactivated in 2013.
That work includes creating domestic violence awareness and sexual assault awareness campaigns and speaker series, as well as helping Emerge with maintaining its facilities and running activities and events.
Sorority leaders have upped their game, says Rowley. “In the space of only a few years, the chapter has raised more than $100,000, mainly through holding largescale, signature events,” Rowley explains.
Those fundraisers have included percentage nights at local businesses, T-shirt sales, food sales and meet-and-greets.
Before pandemic shut-downs, a 2020 kickball tournament that drew more than 500 participants and spectators raised $4,000. When events went virtual, AXO ran a successful bingo night.
This year AXO is on pace to donate more than $55,000 to Emerge in spite of in-person restrictions forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Beta Lambda continually has focused on creative ways to engage their community in conducting their philanthropic efforts,” says Erin Parks, operations manager of Alpha Chi Omega Foundation Inc., which manages chapter fundraising for nonprofits. “Beta Lambda often is cited to other chapters as a model of thinking outside the box.”
It is this level of philanthropic work that attracted Ariana Heiner and Lexi Moser to AXO.
“Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy was the one that was most relevant to me as a woman,” says Heiner, who served as AXO’s vice president of philanthropy before graduating in May 2021 with a degree in public health. “I felt as though I would be able to make a change and actually see the change for myself.”
Moser, the current philanthropy vice president, was equally enthusiastic about AXO. “The work they did for the Tucson community through their support of Emerge was inspiring,” says the third-year business management student. “I wanted to be a part of something that was making a difference.”
The philanthropic work helps Moser learn skills — time management, organization, event planning and teamwork, among others — that she says will help her as she pursues a career in marketing.
Heiner says her work at the sorority directly led to an internship with a local nonprofit and a job as health educator with Touchstone Health Services.
The strong focus on philanthropy has primed all AXO members to become lifelong givers and volunteers, says Emerge Chief Executive Officer Ed Mercurio-Sakwa. “Alpha Chi Omega demonstrates leadership in the area of youth philanthropy because it actively builds a culture of philanthropy into the chapter.”
As a result, he says, AXO alumni continue to donate to Emerge, as well as volunteer in Tucson and other communities.