This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to interact with 9 of our 18 founding fathers. It is still an inexplicable feeling when they come around, smile, grip up with me, and tell me “thank you.” As a young neophyte at Kansas State University, I never imagined having those intimate and personal interactions. I remember in 2003 at Brotherhood Retreat being star struck when I saw and met Mary Peterson, and then International President Ammar Muffleh. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I still don’t get star struck and feel somewhat guilty about the opportunities I have had. To have Brothers like Mary host me for a weekend, as she would do for any brother, or have a Founder or two recognize me…in a sense it’s almost surreal. However, the feeling of guilt still rises because I don’t feel as though I am able to give enough, and then I heard this from Founding Father Ricardo Zamudio “Time, Talent, Treasure.”
This took me back to my small town Kansas upbringing, sitting in church with my family on Sunday morning. Me still being half asleep because no kid likes being up at 7:30, getting yelled at because the car is running and your supposed to be an altar boy, showing up to church, then listening to a homily. There were a couple of summers when the theme of “Time, Talent, and Treasure” was used as a campaign to help fund the renovation of our church. As I would sit there listening to the stories of the families in my parish talk about how they give back, it never occurred to me that this idea of giving back is an integral part of the human experience. 13-15 year old Chacho in his cassock at the front of the church, half awake didn’t pay attention, and it all went in one ear and out of the other, but 30-something Chacho, at a brotherhood event in his fancy evening wear was impacted. You see, Sigma Lambda Beta has given me more than stories, and experiences. It has given me confidence, support, and a family that has checked in on me in difficult times.
At one point in my “Beta” career I was approached by my chapter brother, Ian Bautista. He was in Washington, D.C. for a meeting and I was just excited to have dinner with a founder of my chapter. Ian is a brother that brothers strive to be like. He gives what he can, does what he can, and exemplifies what we as an organization stand for – he is one of the tallest lambda beta men I know. At our dinner, Ian stated that the Education Foundation was hoping to start its first true endowment. Their goal was to raise $18,000, which we all know the significance of, and that they weren’t going to really go public with it until they hit the $9,000 mark. Ian said “We’re at $8,000 now, so we’re looking for one more person before it goes public.” My young, opportunistic ears perked up and the super neo side of me spoke before my prophyte side could stop it. ”Go public bro, I’ll give $1,000.” Ian’s eyes smiled, and asked if I was sure, and still having that super neo adrenaline, I said “absolutely!” I would receive phone calls from the Foundation asking how I would pay, and as the deadline approached to get the money, it somehow happened and I was able to pay the full amount that I pledged. A couple of cool things about this is that the foundation was able to raise over $20,000 for this fund and I have been fortunate to see it awarded to many outstanding brothers. The other cool thing is that I get to wear a pin designed by my Membership Educator, Brother Alexander Morales, another one of those tall lambda beta men that I look up to. His pin is worn at every event, not to brag that at one point I had the $1,000 to give, but because I’m proud to be associated with him, and that his talent was given for the betterment of the brotherhood.
Time would move on, and I would begin working closer to home in Kansas City. It was during this time that I would be approached by another one of those tall lambda beta men, Brother Jason Smolka. Brother Smolka was, at the time, serving as Regional Director for the Midwest Region. Brother Smolka asked if I would like to get involved with the region, and once again the super neo in me jumped up and said “absolutely!” A week later he asked if I would step in and fill the role of Regional Director, and that super neo side of me said “yes!” I did not know what I would be doing, all I could think of were the times that I had been an undergraduate brother and went to the meetings, and “listened” to the news that was coming from the Executive Office about paperwork, and deadlines, and blah blah blah. For me it was a really exciting and overwhelming feeling, but I gave my time just like one of my greatest fraternal and life influencers had. If it weren’t for the constant support of this tall lambda beta man, RD Chacho, would not have existed. I saw the dedication and effort that Brother Juan Izaguirre put forth to the region, to the Mu Beta Chapter he advised at the University of Kansas, and the time he gave and still gives to his undergraduate home the Phi Alpha Chapter. It is through this kind of example and precedent that helped me in those first years. It’s the bond that was established with him that helps me when there are tough times, and I know I can reach out to him. It was this dedication to time that helped me over the next five years of serving as RD. I also gave what I could to the Foundation, I had a period in there where I was balling, but only due to credit cards, and over time that would catch up to me. Work was not as great as I had hoped, finances were low, and I began to not live up to the initial pledges I had made. It was through the support of the brotherhood and hard work that things started to get back on track and I would begin my next adventure at my alma mater, Kansas State University, home of the Phi Chapter.
My experiences in the fraternity so far have been vast and many. Meeting brothers coast to coast, mastering the grip in the flavors of the Northeast, Southeast, the Texas two-step, and other regional accents. My experiences as RD led me to begin my path towards a Master’s Degree in Higher Education. In my mind, it was a really intimidating experience. Some of those tall lambda beta men above and more that I looked up to had that degree, and in my head I thought “they are so smart, there’s no way I can accomplish this.” Deep down I knew that if I didn’t try to just give what I could to this program I would be letting people down, and more importantly, I would let myself down too for giving in to the fear of failure, and the fear of not being good enough when compared to others. So I began to go to school again, and I’m not going to lie, it was not as fun as it had been when I was an undergrad. Working 40 hours a week, advising a couple of student organizations, eventually being elected to serve on the Executive Board of Directors, and taking care of my health all took time away from “fun” and fed in to the daily stressors of life. However, through the support of my undergraduate brothers, and the mentors I had, I was able to achieve that Master’s Degree in December of 2015. More importantly, I have the confidence to begin looking at pursuing a Ph.D. in the near future. All of this because the brothers that came before me gave their time and advice.
Looking back during that time, it really wasn’t too bad, but there was something missing. You see, that credit card debt that I had racked up was haunting me, yet that super neo voice said “pledge more money, you can pay it off!” To be honest I have more money pledged to the Foundation than I will be able to pay off in the near and immediate future. Times are hard again and a change in work is on the horizon. I’m healthy, have a place to live, and can feed myself, and more importantly I have a skill set that will help me get to that next level of my career. As I stood in that reception on Saturday night before the banquet, and listened to Brother Ric, Jim, Roy, and Will talk about Time, Talent and Treasure, all of these memories and moments came back to me. You see, had altar boy Chacho listened, he would have known that giving even just a dollar a week would be significant over time. A dollar from 13-year-old Chacho is $52 a year. After five years I would have given $260 to my church, which again isn’t much, but that at least would have gotten me a history book signed by the 9 founders in attendance on Saturday.
The feeling of guilt was still rushing over me because I had been able to give $1000 to the Foundation at one point in time, and here I am not contributing anything financially. In my mind was I still owed so much money pledged than I’ll be able to pay in a timely manner. It was quite the feeling of humility and embarrassment. I do value the time I get to have interacting with current undergraduate brothers, and my other Executive Board members. I enjoy being able to use my analytical and higher education skills to continually move our organization forward with the help of our national volunteers, and the hardest working people in Fraternity life, our executive office staff. I may not be as artistic as my ME, but I try to donate these talents to help us move forward as an organization. Still things didn’t feel complete, I wasn’t being the full Beta that had learned so many lessons from the aforementioned brothers, and nor was I being a good example to those that are coming after me.
Then he spoke up again. The super neo voice inside me said “it’s okay to be humble, give what you can, don’t be afraid, these are your brothers, if there’s anyone YOU can be YOU around it is with them!” Emboldened by this new sense of super neo adrenaline I walked up to another tall lambda beta man, Brother Ricardo Cortez, and said “I can only give $5, but it’s a recurring payment.” Brother Ricardo’s eyes smiled, like those of Brother Ian, and he said “Okay!” I responded with, “I wish I could give more right now, but I just can’t.” to which the response of “Brother don’t worry about it, it’s better than nothing!” As I walked away from that moment, and celebrated as the Foundation had raised $10,000 I knew that while it wasn’t much, I was a part of that moment, I was once again giving of treasure. I was being a complete Beta man.
It is scary and intimidating to donate, especially when you hear of brothers giving more than you can at that moment. But really as long as you are able to give a little bit of everything, you can feel whole. Not everyone can give large sums of money, but you don’t need to give a lot to feel like you’re giving a lot, especially if you’ve got the time and talents to help our organization move forward. Not everyone has the large amounts of time to give, but just being a mentor to a brother, providing advice every now and then goes much further than you can ever imagine. You may not think that you have the talents to donate to the organization, but brother you are unique and there is something inside of you that is just waiting to get out! You don’t have to be a singer, superstar ball player, or poet. Your talent could be an analytical thinker, a charismatic person who can guide a board to the promised land, an ability to critically analyze budgets, or even being a marketing guru with ideas while marking out to professional wrestling.
We are all in this together, you as undergraduates can give a little of each, and by doing so your chapter and our organization as a whole can go farther. As alumni we can help to get our organization to that next level while at the same time help our undergraduates see that we aren’t just in this for two to four years, we are in a lifelong brotherhood. Remember that even when you divide up time, talent and treasure you still have to give a little bit more to one over the others in order to get 100%. So don’t be embarrassed that you can’t give as much as the person next to you, where you may be lacking they may be strong, but where you are strong they may be lacking. Where each of us is weak, others of us are strong, and it is through this symbiotic arrangement of Time, Talent, and Treasure that we are able to be a brotherhood that is strong, whole, and complete.
Brother Anthony “Chacho” YBarra