The tenth and final carload of Chi Eta brothers arrived at the Beta Rho chapter house on the campus of LSU at 7:15 AM on Thursday, October 6th. Eager to work, some brothers woke up at 8 to volunteer for the H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Excel) House in Baton Rouge, LA. The H.O.P.E. House seeks to prevent people from becoming homeless. Others visited Connections For Life, a thrift store that hires women who have been in jail and helps them get back on their feet.
Later that day, all 38 brothers made their way to downtown Baton Rouge at noon to work the 24th annual Jambalaya Jam. The festival is put on by United Way and includes 45 corporate sponsors competing in a Jambalaya cooking contest. Brothers worked the entire festival from 12-9 PM and did everything from serving drinks in the VIP lounge to breaking down the stages after the live bands performed. During their breaks, many brothers enjoyed naps on the 6th floor of the Shaw Center overlooking the Mississippi River. They also received All-You-Can-Eat wristbands and filled their stomachs with some local Jambalaya
Be sure to check out our video of the trip, made by WKU Fiji’s own Austin Wenger.
Once the volunteer work was done, the brothers got to relax back at the chapter house and enjoy some brotherhood time with some Beta Rho brothers. Friday morning brought many tired Fijis and empty Fiji stomachs. A brotherhood breakfast at Ihop was much needed before any work could be done. However, the group was not complete. Twelve brothers started earlier in the day and collected around 100 pounds of food from a neighborhood and dropped it off at the H.O.P.E. House.
By noon, all the brothers had made it out to Heritage Ranch, a 52-acre property in nearby Zachary, LA. The boys were greeted by a beautiful ranch including ponds and horse barns. Vicki Ellis, the ranch’s director, and her father, Larry, briefly introduced the mission of the ranch and the history of the property. Heritage Ranch’s mission is to strengthen and unify families and the community through a Christ-centered residential children’s Home. The program is aimed at youth in crises. They are currently going through all the steps to become operational and the brothers were more than happy to assist them. They trimmed back trees, painted rooms, repaired fences, and hung some misbehaving ceiling fans.
Around 4, with fatigue from the car ride and previous day’s work catching up, the brothers completed the jobs and quickly began playing with the children’s toys. Scooters went scooting, balls went flying, and Will Garcia went roller-blading. Once the chaos settled, Vicki led the brothers on a tour of the ranch and introduced her cartwheeling sons. Not to be outdone, Tyler Wittmer showed the four-year-old a backflip and Josh Wiseman yellow carded Wittmer for taunting. The four year old accepted the penalty and continued chewing on his Now-and-Laters.
Friday night was a free-for-all with some brothers journeying to New Orleans and others exploring campus. The sun rose on Saturday morning and so did the Chi Eta brothers, many to the rhythmic beating of a spoon on a bowl by Beta Rho corresponding secretary Anthony Gambino. The beating announced that LSU tailgating had begun. Brothers emerged from the chapter house to the sight of 200,000 Tiger fans on campus ready to see some football action against Florida. The intensity and electricity of LSU football took over and soon enough, Topper fans were Tiger baiting Gator fans.
Unfortunately, brothers had to hit the road at game time and were unable to watch LSU demolish Florida. On the way home, many brothers stopped in nearby Clinton, LA, and paid their respects to Daniel Webster Crofts’ grave. The gravesite was a humbling place for pledges and brothers alike.
Brothers returned home with countless memories, stronger brotherhood, 16 hours of community service, fire ant bites, too many tweets, and some awesome Beta Rho t-shirts. The trip served as a reminder to many of how and why this fraternity has brought this group of men together. The service and brotherhood of the trip will surely stay with all 38 brothers that embarked on the 2011 Chi Eta Fall Break Community Service Trip.