The phrase “theme house” isn’t synonymous with “party house.” Many people aren’t aware of the philanthropic activities Simpson’s theme houses are required to perform.
“This year we again helped with Operation Christmas Child,” said Mara LeHew, a member of the Soul House. “We all benefit from participating in many different ways.”
One way LeHew said the house mates benefit from their philanthropy is by finding a time to actually be together.
“We all have busy schedules,” she said. “So being involved with the Operations Christmas Child meant we all had the opportunity to go shopping together.”
While some houses help the less fortunate, many houses have direct connections with their community.
An example of this is the Basketball House. It has been in existence for two years, even though it has changed locations. The Basketball House sponsors an annual bone-marrow drive. This drive is due to their assistant coach and house advisor, Steve Ellens.
Ellens, who was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia when he was twenty-eight, is currently in remission. The team still does what it can to battle leukemia.
Stephanie Krauth, associate dean of students, said the houses’ philanthropies are often chosen due to a personal connection.
“The houses we find successful and that perpetuate have members and advisors with philanthropies that emanate from a direct connection,” Krauth said.
When applying for a house, each member has to sign a form that states what the house will do in the next year for a philanthropy. The sheet clearly states that each member has to volunteer for 20 hours per semester – about five hours a month.
“Each theme house turns in a monthly review of what hours they have performed,” Krauth said. “If the house has decided to switch philanthropies, it’s not a big deal, as long as [the new philanthropy] is credible.”
The housing staff has yet to hear of a house that hasn’t done its work. If a house chooses to bail out on its philanthropy for the year, its members cannot reapply for a house.
LeHew’s house has kept up with its philanthropies, but she said it probably won’t be able to stay in the same place next year.
“This is the fourth year that Simpson has had a Soul House,” LeHew said. “Since a couple of the girls are graduating, we doubt we’ll get this house again, but we all probably will continue to do some sort of service work.”