Four sorority members of the Sigma Chapter of Omega Phi Beta at Plattsburgh State decided to stand up — by sitting down in a 48-hour outdoor survival challenge to raise money for the Ray of Hope Walk to End Violence Against Women.
PSUC hospitality management major Gissela Sosa is the sorority’s vice president and secretary. Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. uses the Ray of Hope Walk (ROHW) as a direct response to their philanthropy, raising awareness of violence against women. Sosa and her sisters wanted to focus on the financial perspective of raising awareness to support the women who become homeless after leaving an abusive relationship.
Sosa and three other women, Chienne Harris, Alejandra De Leon and Jasmine Mille, laid in front of the Angell College Center for two days from the morning of Sept. 8 to Sept. 10. Without access to food, water or electricity, the sorority simply posted in the Student Digest that food and cash donations will be accepted and highly appreciated.
Sosa said the sorority didn’t even set a goal amount to raise, but when the 48 hours was over, the sisters ending up raising over $1,000.
“I thought we were just going to make $100,” senior accounting major Jasmine Mills said. “We didn’t expect to have such an amazing outcome.”
Omega Phi president Chienne Harris said the positive feedback from the campus community was heartwarming.
“People slept outside with us overnight and would check on us at two or three in the morning just to see if we were OK,” Harris said. “We met so many people from campus that we didn’t know before.”
Harris also said the money raised was a big accomplishment for them, as it was the most they had ever raised since the chapter’s inception in 2001.
“We didn’t have pillows,” Sosa said. “We had one blanket each.”
The sisters said they had a positive reaction from the campus community with many donations such as more blankets and pillows and supplies like snacks, cases of water, homemade cooking and Chinese take-out.
Mille said the experience gave her flashbacks from when her and her mother were homeless due to domestic violence issues.
“Sitting there and going through that all over again was really emotional at times,” Mille said.
She also said some passerby who donated to the sorority didn’t expect anything in return and just thanked them for raising awareness. Some even got emotional.
“Seeing someone’s tears come down their faces made the experience worthwhile,” Mille said. “I can’t even describe how I feel, knowing that I sat down for 48 hours and saw so many people [support us].”
Harris said one difficulty was the sleepless nights.
“I didn’t go to sleep until 4 a.m., and I only slept for three hours because I was scared,” she said. “We only did it for 48 hours, but [I thought], ‘What if that was every day of my life?’”
De Leon and Harris both expressed a fear for what Plattsburgh is like after dark.
“[Plattsburgh] isn’t where we’re from,” De Leon said. “We didn’t know who would be [walking] around overnight.”
Despite the fears, the sisters were pleasantly surprised by not only the money they were able to give to their national organization’s cause, but also the positive response from the community.
“Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to help and educate them,” Harris said. “They made us feel safe, and they made the experience worth what it was.”
The sisters of Omega Phi Beta walked away feeling as though they supported their cause and stood up for what their organization believed in.
“Of course we wanted to raise money, but at the end of the day, we’re here to educate those around us what we stand for.”
Email Emma Vallelunga at firstname.lastname@example.org