Feb. 2, 2011
From Lehigh Athletic Communications
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Seven Lehigh student-athletes are involved in an extensive community service project through a new organization called Student-Athletes Leading Social Change. As part of this year's SALSC initiative, student-athletes from around the nation are adopting and raising money for underdeveloped Ecuadorian villages. One way Lehigh is raising funds is through an all-day Phone-A-Thon this Thursday (Feb. 3) in the University Center.
Two leaders at each school are chosen to spearhead the fundraising efforts. For Lehigh, it's Jessica Miller (field hockey) and Angelo DiGiacinto (men's swimming), while Erica Prosser (women's basketball), Katey Fardelmann (field hockey), Alyssa Donahue (women's track), Anna Patterson (women's lacrosse) and Liz Lucas (softball) are also heavily involved and have been working on the project for months.
"I've always been interested in helping people," said Miller. "From something small, to helping a friend out, to doing something on a global scale such as this, I feel like it's what I was meant to do. Until a few years ago, I didn't realize that my passion for helping people could become a career. Organizations like SALSC make me realize that I can do this for the rest of my life."
This comes one year after Prosser spearheaded an initiative to raise funds and build a school in Kenya. Last summer, she went to a small village and helped build a school for the local community. She spent 10 days there and along with 14 other student-athletes from SALSC, constructed a school using sand, cement, water and bricks.
"I have been a part of several community initiatives such as SALSC, but none have been more meaningful to me than this," said DiGiacinto. "Erica did such an amazing job last year, and Jess and I are working especially hard to continue her tradition. SALSC has grown tremendously at Lehigh since last year, and we hope it continues to every year. My goal is to show the Lehigh community that SALSC is a committed group of students who wish to make a global change."
This year's SALSC initiative is to adopt villages in Old Quito, Ecuador and raise money to build and furnish schools in those villages. Led by Miller and DiGiacinto, the Mountain Hawks are holding a "Jail Bail" Phone-A-Thon this Thursday (Feb. 3) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the University Center Room 308. Everyone - especially Lehigh students, faculty and staff - are invited to "jail." The "prisoners" will have to "bail themselves out" by calling friends, family, alumni and local businesses to ask for donations.
Lehigh's goal is to raise $17,500 by Mar. 1. That would enable the group to build a school and send three student-athletes to Ecuador to help build it.
"As we continue our academic careers at Lehigh, we become more and more appreciative of the education we are receiving," said Prosser. "There is no better way to show appreciation for the education we have than to pass it on to those in need. We are committed to service and our desire to lead others in social change has urged us to pursue this project because of all of its potential global benefits."
"The idea of helping someone - especially children - is such an empowering feeling," said Lucas. "We can change the lives of these kids. This takes two things I love and puts them together - education and the idea of helping and giving my services."
Thursday isn't the only fundraising event that the student-athletes have conducted. There was a great turnout for an October event at the Goosey Gander restaurant where a percentage of sales in a three-hour window were donated to the cause.
The group has also done everything from point sponsoring to emailing friends and family in hopes of increasing awareness of SALSC. Student-athletes have also sent letters to friends, family and businesses within their respective hometowns.
Another fundraiser is set for next week at Farmersville Elementary School in Bethlehem. Students can purchase a paper heart for one dollar; they will then put the hearts on the wall to show their support for the cause, while generating funds at the same time. Miller and DiGiacinto spoke to an excited and eager Farmersville Elementary School last Friday in preparation for the event.
Jeff Janssen, founder of the Janssen Sports Leadership Center, created SALSC as a channel for dedicated student-athletes (current and former) to fulfill their aspirations of leading social change on the local, national and international levels. Those involved truly want to change the world.
"SALSC is the best opportunity that's ever presented to me," said Miller. "We get to help people while seeing different worlds and cultures. I'm fascinated by the way other people live, especially in underdeveloped words. People who have next to nothing, but are the happiest and most thankful people you'd ever come across.
"We'll be teaching them, but they'll be teaching us even more," she continued. "That's really what I'm looking forward to. Learning what's really important in life and doing things for them and establishing close relationships."
"It's hard to even describe how much this [Lehigh] will influence their lives," said Lucas.
There are two primary ways to donate:
1. Donate online at salsc.org (tax deductible) - Recommended form of donation
(Please be sure to specify your donation is for Lehigh University)
2. Pledge during the Phone-A-Thon on February 3 and donate before February 22