I’ve written before about Alpha Phi Omega, in a lot of ways, but for those of you tuning in, here’s what you missed:
APO was an accident for me, in college. I was a freshman and attending as many interest meetings for clubs as I could, because that’s what you do as a freshman with no friends. I saw an email about Alpha Phi Omega – a “co-ed, non-greek, community service fraternity” and was confused. I was involved in National Honors Society in high school, and was just coming off of serving as the Social Action Vice President in my youth group back in Buffalo, so I was intrigued. I attended an interest meeting and signed up for the “interview” which was the next step to joining. Along the way, I knew I could “get out” whenever I wanted to, but all of a sudden I was being picked up in my room by a member of the organization, told about the cardinal principles of Leadership, Friendship, and Service, and wearing a pledge shirt.
APO was the best accident I could have fallen into.
It sounds really uncool, actually. A co-ed organization with greek letters that ISN’T a stereotypical party scene and instead measures your membership in community service hours and fellowship? Yeah, it was tough to explain to people that APO was my “thing” on campus. It was the only organization I was a part of for eight semesters, and unsurprisingly, what helped me develop into a campus leader and gave me my closest friends and best memories of Geneseo. By the time I reached my senior year, senioritis had hit me hard across the board, including my love for the organization. I had been offered a job, graduation was on the horizon, and my life was about to shift. I knew APO was one of many Geneseo things I was going to leave behind, and I was really fine with it. I had 4 years of memories and hilarious pictures to hold on to, and that was enough for me.
Fast forward a year and a half. It’s October 2014 and I had left my first “big girl job” and moved to Albany NY for a different one. I didn’t know anyone, and I leaned on meetups.com to help me make friends. I was out at happy hour with a group I had only met once before, when the TV show Doctor Who was mentioned.
Person across from me whose name I didn’t remember: Doctor Who? I’ve never seen that show.
Girl next to her: What? It’s so great! I love it.
Person across from me whose name I didn’t remember: I’ve never seen it, but I know all about it only because I’m in this service organization where everyone is obsessed with it.
My brain synapses sparked. I flashed back to all my friends at Geneseo, APO friends, who were obsessed with The Doctor, Daleks, and…well, whatever else…because I ONLY KNEW ABOUT THE SHOW BECAUSE OF APO.
Me: Wait, were you in Alpha Phi Omega?
I felt really embarrassed saying it. I’m supposed to be an adult, not mentioning organizations from college. But, her eyes got wide.
Person across from me whose name I didn’t remember: OH MY GOD. YES! ARE YOU?
The rest was a whirlwind. I happened to be sitting across the table from the Chair of Section 88, where I was now living. She roped me in, introduced me to the right people, and suddenly I became an alumni volunteer, working in the section and region. I never thought APO would become such a big part of my life again, but suddenly it was.
Which leads me to this post, really. I spent the last three weekends doing “APO things” and despite how exhausting it may be, it makes me so happy to be a part of. I traveled to Syracuse for a sectional conference, watched a chapter re-charter, and spent time in the middle of the woods with alumni staff and current students, all because of Doctor Who.
When I would explain my weekend plans to those around me, it was often met with “APO again?” or, “wow, that really takes over your life, huh?” And, I guess it does at times. In the moment it’s overwhelming but looking back it makes me so happy. Even as an alumni, I’ve been meeting incredible friends who I wouldn’t have known otherwise, some in my own city and some further away, but they’ve become cheerleaders and supporters, and I’m so thankful for that.
Moral of the story kids – if something means the world to you, don’t let it go.