Cornell Fraternity Serves the Ithaca Community

“Service” is a word bursting with meaning for the Alpha Phi Omega–Gamma Chapter Service Team, as we have learned first-hand here at The Sophie Fund.

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A little more than a year ago, we decided to organize a cupcake baking contest in the Ithaca Commons. Our idea was to raise some money for mental health initiatives, bring some cupcake joy to Ithaca, and fight the stigma around mental health and treatment. Sophie (’14) was an avid baker and loved baking cupcakes from an early age.

An APO brother came across some publicity for the contest and quickly contacted us. She said she would encourage APO Gamma brothers to bake some cupcakes, but she also wanted to know “if there was any way our brothers could help out.”

Our answer was “Yes!” The truth was that we had thrown the contest together at the last minute, and we desperately needed help with logistics on event day. APO Gamma dispatched a dozen or so brothers to the Bernie Milton Pavilion who helped with everything from registering scores of contestants, inventorying the cupcakes for panels of judges, preparing awards certificates for the winners, and mopping up the site afterwards. The flood of contestants was much more than we anticipated. The 1st Annual Cupcake Baking Contest was a big success.

APO Gamma, we couldn’t have done it without you!

In January, APO Gamma was ready to start talking about how they could support the 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest 10 months away. In numerous meetings at Starbucks downtown and at Willard Straight Hall on campus (not to mention countless emails), APO Gamma helped us design a sequel that included a fun fundraising element—collecting donations for mental health initiatives and giving donors “cupcake buttons” in return.

Starting in late September, APO Gamma squads fanned out to Ho Plaza, GreenStar Natural Foods Market, and the Apple Harvest Festival to advocate for mental health, take donations for this year’s cause—suicide prevention—and promote the cupcake contest to be held in the Commons on October 14. APO Gamma raised more than $500, well above our expectations.

More important, the brothers’ presence on campus and in the community generated further awareness and prompted conversations that make a difference and could save a life. We know from Sophie’s experience with depression and anxiety, which led her to take a health leave of absence only six months away from graduation, how important it is to know that there is help, that people care.

At The Sophie Fund, we are overwhelmed not only by APO Gamma’s aid with fundraising and contest logistics, but by the heart that the brothers put into their service to the community. We know that APO Gamma is involved around the clock in so many other projects supporting mental health. It is truly something to admire.

We’re expecting a larger turnout for the 2017 cupcake contest. Once again, it wouldn’t happen without APO Gamma.

(Editor’s Note: This blog post written by The Sophie Fund originally appeared October 10, 2017 on the Service Blog of Alpha Phi Omega—Gamma Chapter)

Photo Caption: APO Gamma brothers volunteering for the 2016 Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest

Thank You, GreenStar!

The Sophie Fund expresses it sincere thanks to GreenStar Natural Foods Market for supporting the upcoming 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest in the Commons this Saturday—we couldn’t have done it without you!

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GreenStar is the contest’s premier sponsor for the second year in a row, providing crucial financial backing and donating prizes. GreenStar’s baker Daleila Norman will again serve as one of the contest’s three “VIP” judges.

Not only that: GreenStar welcomed student organizations from Cornell University and Ithaca College into its stores to raise money on behalf of The Sophie Fund for suicide prevention efforts in the community.

In advance of the cupcake contest on October 14, Active Minds at Ithaca College collected donations at GreenStar’s West End hub, while the Cornell service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega–Gamma Chapter raised funds at GreenStar’s Collegetown location.

GreenStar also designated The Sophie Fund as a recipient in the “Bring Your Own Bag, Use it for Good” donations program for the months of October, November, and December (along with The SPCA of Tompkins County and Get Your GreenBack Tompkins).

The Sophie Fund is honored by GreenStar’s embrace. Ithaca wouldn’t be Ithaca without GreenStar, which for 47 years has promoted fresh, whole foods, sustainable living, and the transformative power of a strong local economy. It’s no exaggeration to say that GreenStar is Ithaca, considering that it is a community-based consumer cooperative owned by over 12,000 members.

GreenStar operates three food markets—there’s one in the DeWitt Mall in addition to the Buffalo Street and College Avenue locations. It cultivates relationships with local growers and producers and runs classes in everything from breast wellness to brewing Kombucha tea and wrapping Vietnamese spring rolls.

GreenStar also manages a host of community projects. They include the Community Meals Program, the Local Childhood Nutrition Collaborative, Quarterly Local Food Networking Sessions, Hot Potato Press.

And did we mention baking? GreenStar’s bakery is famous for its cakes, pies, cookies, muffins, and of course… cupcakes!

See everybody at the 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Contest in the Commons—contestants can submit their entries from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Bernie Milton Pavilion. Winners announced at awards ceremony at 3 p.m. and online at www.thesophiefund.org.

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Photo caption: The GreenStar Team