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When Greek Life Means Soup Kitchens and Food Pantries

The only traditionally Greek aspect of Ric Popp’s fraternity are its letters, Alpha Phi Omega (APO).

Ric is vice president for fellowship at the DePaul chapter of APO, the nation’s largest co-ed service fraternity. There are no secret handshakes, no houses, no rush week—just weekly events where members volunteer their time and talents for charitable organizations (plus some excellent social events).

“We’re completely dedicated to service.  We coordinate tons of events for our members to go to around the city and into the suburbs:  dog shelters, soup kitchens, food depositories. We also work at charity events where people are raising money to help others,” Ric says. Each of the 50-some “brothers” in the chapter—both men and women are called “brothers”—are required to work 12 hours of service each quarter. Popp says most work 20 to 30 and some much more.

“It’s the perfect opportunity to meet people,” says Popp. He met two of his best friends—now his roommates—through APO. “I probably wouldn’t have met them otherwise. At first, the only thing we had in common was our desire to do community service."

The variety of service opportunities drew Ric, a sophomore majoring in economics, to APO. Each week, “you’re suddenly put into a whole new realm of circumstances than the week before,” he says. “It gives you a different perspective, all those different experiences. It’s really enlightening.”

In high school, Ric was involved with a charity started by his best friend’s parents, Heal Team 6. He discovered that service was important to him—so important that his choice of university depended on it. He chose DePaul because he knew that service would be a big part of coursework and student life.

“I believe that by coming here to DePaul, I’ll be able to play a bigger role in something much bigger than I am,” Ric says. By being in a city as large as Chicago, he says there are there are many more ways for him to make a difference for many more people. “I’ll be able to make an impact.”
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