About 60 Pi Kappa Phi brothers took measures to experience what it would be like to be blind or deaf at a dinner last night to promote disability awareness.
As the fraternity brothers ate dinner, almost every member at the table either wore earplugs, had their hands bound or was blindfolded. This was meant to simulate the everyday challenges people with disabilities face.
The University’s chapter of the fraternity hosted the Empathy Dinner on North Campus for individuals with disabilities and presented the Circle of Life Grant — totaling $580 — to the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living.
The dinner featured speakers from the Cornerstone-Wolcott Center — a non-profit organization based in Davison, Mich. dedicated to aiding individuals with disabilities — and the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living — a community center at 3103 Homestead Commons Drive that provides educational programs for people with disabilities. The event was organized by LSA freshman Paul Willar, the Pi Kappa Phi philanthropy chair.
Willar, whose mother has worked at the Cornerstone-Wolcott Center for 10 years, wrote in an e-mail interview that he wanted the dinner to help his fraternity brothers understand what it’s like to live with a disability.
“This dinner is an opportunity for the brothers of our house to not only experience what it may be like to have a disability, but realize how fortunate we are for what we do have,” Willar wrote.
LSA senior and Pi Kappa Phi member Sal Amodeo said the dinner was also representative of the fraternity’s interests.
“When we’re selling our fraternity, we’re advocating that we’re more than a social club,” Amodeo said. “We do more important things than party.”
Willar wrote that about half the Pi Kappa Phi brothers volunteer at the Eisenhower Center — a local organization that works with brain trauma patients — a few times a month. He added that he would like to see at least 75 percent of the fraternity members volunteer.
“We pride ourselves in being the only fraternity with a national philanthropy association,” LSA senior and Pi Kappa Phi member Saahil Karpe said, referring to the non-profit organization Push America, which also focuses on awareness and philanthropy for people with disabilities.
The center helped 2,472 people with disabilities from Washtenaw, Livingston and Monroe counties last year, according to a pamphlet from the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living,
Sue Probert, a community resource specialist at the AACIL, said she was grateful for Pi Kappa Phi’s donation, and that it will benefit the center.