For many of our chapters, it can feel as though the members are stuck in a rut when it comes to philanthropy. The same events, over and over again, for the same few organizations. While every little bit helps and serves communities around our chapters, sometimes the mold needs to be broken.

The men of the Nu Zeta chapter at the University of Georgia have been doing just that for the past few years by partnering themselves with Extra Special People (ESP). Since 1986, ESP has been a leading force in Georgia in “…offering high-quality affordable programs for ‘people with different abilities'”.  Through summer camps, after-school programs, and different community events, ESP celebrates those of all abilities.

ESP’s mission found its way to the members of the Nu Zeta chapter through a brother several years ago. Spencer Baird, along with the rest his family, were heavily involved with ESP for many years through his sister, Hannah. Hannah was a frequent participant in all that ESP offers, especially the pageants. The rest of the chapter began to volunteer with the pageants to help Spencer and his family, and the partnership stuck.

“Even though no knows the Bairds personally in the chapter [now], we are still so invested in the cause,” said Will Minnis, High Alpha. “Then, going to the actual pageant and seeing all the joy in their faces that comes with being up there is great.”

Big Hearts at Bat has become one of the largest events ESP hosts, fundraising for fully-accessible baseball fields. Photo courtesy of ESP.

Spencer has since graduated from the University of Georgia, but the Baird family continues their tradition of stopping by the chapter house each year to speak with the members about how much their support means.

This year, members volunteered and raised money for one of the fastest-growing events that ESP hosts, Big Hearts at Bat. The large fundraising event showcases the talents of the participants in a pageant form, along with other events throughout the night, all to support ESP’s efforts to build and maintain fully-accessible baseball fields in the Athens community.

“They have been building these fields all around the country for special needs children and have been seeing a real difference because it gives these kids a chance to play with other kids, so we would really like to see that here in Athens,” said Adam Block, High Theta.

By volunteering their time at Big Hearts at Bat and raising funds for the cause, Minnis, Block, and the rest of the men were able to do their part to assist in making the fields a reality.

ESP has become one of the biggest philanthropic partners for the men at Georgia, and they encourage other members to seek a cause they are passionate about. They say the greatest reward is being able to help an organization they feel a personal connection towards and witnessing their hard work come to life.

“To me, service means that there is something bigger, there is something more important than whatever little things are going on in my life,” said Minnis. “The fully-accessible baseball fields are something I may have taken for granted when I was younger; I loved to play baseball.

“So, just seeing it come back and the effort we put in, a little can go a long way in helping our community.”

“It’s just what we stand for,” said Block.

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