Friday, July 14, 2006

Brother Hofmann and Brother Skordeles - Thank You

Like many of you, I often get wrapped up in the selfish experiences that define the small world that I live in. Juggling business and family life often make it easy to forget about or marginalize the fraternity. However, two recent experiences have reminded me about the power of the Sig Ep experience and the effect that it has had (and continues to have) on many lives, including mine.

Some of you might have read about the recent passing of brother John Hofmann (OGH). Brother Hofmann’s Sig Ep experience should be textbook reading for every volunteer. Brother Hofmann’s life was a rich tapestry that combined a law practice in two states (California and Ohio) with an active family life, numerous hobbies, and many civic endeavors. Among them was his commitment to the California Gamma Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon at UC Santa Barbara. For over a time frame spanning some 40 years, Brother Hofmann went from being a chapter leader as an undergrad to the heart and soul of the organization as its’ most passionate and committed (and often only) volunteer. He led the Cal Gamma chapter from the brink of extinction (on multiple occasions) into one of the most financially successful chapters on the West Coast. Cal Gamma even bought the San Antonio Conclave banner. And he did all of this, for the most part, under the radar. Never “proud or boastful”, never seeking a spotlight, Brother Hofmann’s passion and dedication touched hundreds (if not thousands) of Sig Ep lives. And he did all this while leading an extremely busy and complex life. A model servant leader in my book. I am sure there are many more stories like John’s out there. Maybe Sig Ep should compile a book of these stories and distribute them to their volunteers. Makes much more sense than another “program” or “initiative” (just my opinion). And it would probably touch many more people – and recognize a few in the process.

You also may have seen that Brother Mike Skordeles is stepping down as the District Governor (DG) in Ohio. I have had the honor of working alongside Brother Skordeles as a volunteer, and I only wish that the Southern California district worked like Mike’s machine. Sig Ep is a powerhouse in large part because of Mike’s passion, commitment, common sense wisdom, and sense of humor (a trait often lacking in many of us Sig Ep junkies – myself included). I hope we do not lose Mike to the “small world” and that we find creative ways to keep him involved. One of the fraternity’s biggest problems is our inability to maintain our volunteer base. Flares shoot up in the sky and often fade away without notice. This is not only a shame, but it forces us to waste precious time and resources trying to replace that hard earned experience and institutional memory. Instead of spending money trying to restore the fraternal hard drive; we can use these resources to enrich the lives of our undergraduates. Which is the way it should be.

Well, enough of my ramblings for today. I hope a few of you chime in comments about some dedicated volunteers in your corner of the Sig Ep world. If not, I hope you take something with you from these two awesome Sig Eps.