“Action is better…”

Posted by Monica Hoel
These E&H students are flexing their service muscles this summer.

Several days a month, cars line up at Loaves and Fishes food pantry in Chilhowie, Virginia, to pick up some supplies for the week. Mondays, for instance, are reserved for families with children, and folks receive a range of snacks, milk, juice boxes, fresh fruit and vegetables, and occasionally a hot meal.

The food pantry only employees a couple of people, so much of the work is done by volunteers. Two of those volunteers are a couple of Emory & Henry students.

Ron Miller (graduating in 2020) and Liam Besneatte-Cullinane (graduating in 2021) don their masks and help hand out food for the families passing through the line. As members of Theta Chi Epsilon fraternity, they are accustomed to offering 10 hours of service per semester as a requirement for Greek Life. But according the food pantry’s director, Rev. Sharon Wiley Wright (E&H ’94), these guys do more than is expected.

But according the food pantry’s director, Rev. Sharon Wiley Wright (E&H ’94), these guys do more than is expected. “Theta Chi adopted Loaves and Fishes as a service site nearly three years ago.  They have remained committed to showing up for every monthly distribution–even during summer break, winter break, and COVID-19.  My heart fills with so much joy and pride on Thursday evenings when I see the guys and their sweethearts show up in Greek-letters to serve.  The Theta Chi’s who started coming to Loaves & Fishes have graduated, but they have instilled a commitment to us in their new members.  They are truly making a difference in the lives of food-insecure families in our community.”

Liam says he felt like it was important for him to be in service to others right now. He says he feels like this is an important time to find ways to help our neighbors who don’t have as many opportunities. “What’s happening in our country right now is systemic. People are affected by a system that doesn’t give them equal opportunities, and they are marginalized.”

Ron says being in service felt natural. “It’s just counterintuitive to sit back and watch things happen without doing something.”

Both men express a lot of affection for Emory & Henry, and they say they were glad to be able to finish out the spring semester online, but they quickly say they’re eager to be back together physically on campus with the community. Liam says that for him it was never “just” about getting an education. “It was about the intersection of faculty and students and experiences. I’ve done some of my best character development in the caf!”

Turning their E&H education into service seems important to both of them – but more than being important, it just seems an obvious response based on what they’ve studied and discussed as students. According to Liam, “Action is a lot better than posting stories on Instagram.”

  • Ron Miller (’20) and Liam Besneatte-Cullinane (’21) at the food pantry in Chilhowie

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