My name is Damon Holst, and I am the Philanthropy Chair for my Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity chapter at Elmhurst College, outside of Chicago. My passion for service and fostering community relationships has helped me maintain a sense of clarity and balance throughout my life. Because of this, I have found myself in this position, able to share my passion for service in leading my organization into a greater sense of community and worthiness through giving back and helping to better the lives of others.
Service is one of seven core values of my organization, but service is also a core value of my own personal life. Service has played a large role for the entirety of my life. I accredit the value placed on service and giving back to my parents, who taught me that without the ability to help others, one's life may not hold value.
My parents made service a regular part of our family schedule on a weekly basis. They would take me to swimming lessons on Saturday morning, and then to the food pantry to spend the afternoon. As I grew old enough, my father, who had always served on multiple community service-based groups, found that he could continue to grow his relationship with his children through participating together in Habitat for Humanity building projects on a regular basis. These regular service opportunities, combined with many others became a part of normalcy in my life.
The role of service in my life became foundational as I grew. I began to see service as a core part of my life, alongside family, faith, education, and friendship. Knowing that I was contributing to something greater than myself, helping those not as blessed with financial, health, or food security as myself, contributed a large sense of value to my life.
I took this sense of duty to service to heart as I transitioned out of living with my family into the college experience at Elmhurst. I knew that if I found an organization that modeled the importance I placed on giving back to my community, this would help improve my transition, allowing me to feel a greater sense of belonging in this new environment.
This is how I found Lambda Chi Alpha. They advertised themselves with the highest regard for service and philanthropy, something that immediately stood out to me. I noticed that their major philanthropy and service event each semester was a food drive that contributed an average of 3,000 pounds of food to a local food bank in Elmhurst. This struck me. I understood the need for such an event, even in our affluent community that seemed to be void of poverty, hunger, or homelessness. I knew from past experience, that the need is present, despite the affluent face of Elmhurst.
I joined Lambda Chi Alpha for this reason, and found myself at home with the values that this organization held. My membership allowed me the opportunity to place service as a regular part of my life, one of the things that helped me to feel at home while being so far away from my family.
Three years later, I found myself in the natural position of Philanthropy Chair, a culmination of my passion within my organization. As we prepare for our spring food drive in partnership with Feeding America, I am excited to be able to share my passion for service and how my involvement with Lambda Chi Alpha has provided both myself and chapters across the country to place a high value on service and philanthropy work.
This semester we hope to distribute food collection bags to 2,000 homes across the Elmhurst community, and subsequently collect 4,500 pounds of food the following week. This may seem like a steep goal for a group of 18-22 year old college men, but I know that this goal is attainable because of the fact that we hold this event to such a high standard of importance within our organization, the significant role that service work plays into our organizational and personal identities, and the new found excitement that we have surrounding the partnership with Feeding America.
Enough talking, we need to get out there and collect some food!
Damon is a junior at Elmhurst College from Marion, Illinois and is the Philanthropy Chair and External Vice President for Lambda Chi Alpha, Pi Zeta Zeta chapter at Elmhurst College.