Preps may be fashionistas but the true prep realizes that it is really what’s under the Lilly Pulitzer dress that counts. Preps contribute to a wide array of charitable endeavors and can be seen on guest lists ranging from the New York Botanical Garden Ball to the Boys and Girls Club of Boston Annual Dinner. I love to don a dress as much as the next darling but I also believe in the importance of hands-on community service. My sorority stressed the difference between philanthropy and service. Philanthropy involves giving money to a charitable organization (for example, going to a Save the Spotted Owl benefit) and service involves interacting with the individuals you are helping.
I was exposed to community service at a young age. In middle school I began tutoring at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan’s Gift of Literacy Program. This program sends tutors to public schools throughout Manhattan to teach reading to students that are struggling.
In high school I began working with the March of Dimes. I was born four and a half months premature and weighed a pound and eight ounces. I became a Teen Ambassador for the March of Dimes in order to show parents that there is life after the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). My parents used to tell a story about a doctor telling them that the surgery I had received would not leave scars when I was would wear a strapless prom dress. They said that prom dresses seemed so far away when they were living with the day-to-day stress of whether or not I would survive. When I volunteered for the March of Dimes I enjoyed providing tangible evidence that a preemie in an incubator could be an avid equestrian who could, literally, fall off the horse and get right back on.
In college I was involved with community service through my sorority. My sorority believes that by serving others, sisters become more valuable citizens, students, workers and community leaders. One of the events my sorority hosts is called Princess for a Day. We invite elementary school students in the community to a girly day of manicures, brunch, a dance party, and a tea party as well as helping them make goody bags for the Ronald McDonald House. We dress up as Disney Princesses and act out various stories and let them take photos with Disney Princesses. One of my favorite events that my sorority participates is the Martin Luther King Day of Service because we believe that it should be a “day on” instead of a “day off.” We help to paint classrooms of an inner-city high-school. Last year I helped to transform the band-room by painting a mural of different DC attractions such as the Washington Monument and cherry blossoms.
I knew that I wanted to continue engaging on community service as a post-grad. I joined the New York Junior League and made good friends in my provisional group. I even got my first choice committee, the Playground Improvement Project (PIP). Women who volunteer with PIP help to restore and rejuvenate parks throughout Manhattan. They paint, dig, and build (providing an excuse to break out your norts somewhere other than the gym). Seeing the impact that my sorority sisters and I made at inner-city schools helped me decide to join PIP.