Kathleen Perry Contributing Writer

   Students looking for community service opportunities and a touch of college Greek life can look no further than Alpha Phi Omega (APO) which strives to create a community focusing on their main principles: “leadership, friendship, and service.” APO, UMF’s co-ed community service organization, is looking to accept new members into their fraternity, and are on the lookout for students who want to meet new people and serve the campus and Farmington area.

   They are a wide-reaching and well respected national organization, that has chapters on many campuses throughout the country including the University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont, and Maine Maritime Academy. APO was established 1991 and has around 500,000 members.

APO Members Kaden Pendleton, Emily Thibodeau, Piper Alexander (Photo courtesy of Madison Vigeant)

   APO President Madison Vigeant and APO Vice President Haley Knowlton, both juniors at UMF, agree that the personal connections they have made through the organization go beyond just doing community service, and they feel as though the group has become like a family. To achieve these bonds, once a week the club holds “fellowship,” for the members to spend quality time together through low pressure activities, such as paint nights, movie nights, or, more recently, a snow tubing trip. 

   The organization also attends conferences out of state. “We’ve gone to Texas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and at the end of this year we are going to Arizona,” says Elizabeth Leclerc, senior and general member of APO.

   One of APO’s most successful events was a bake sale through the United Way in order to benefit victims of the LEAP building explosion in Sept. 2019, taking the life of Captain Michael Bell and affecting the Farmington community. Knowlton said customers would “buy a brownie for fifty cents and hand you a twenty [dollar bill].”

   With many community members pitching in to help, the fundraiser made almost $800. 

   Members of APO join for many reasons. For Vigeant, community service has been a constant in her life for years. “In high school, I was really into community service,” she said. For others, they join to gain skills that will help them in the future. 

   “APO has helped me to expand my horizons in leadership roles, learn more about community service, and has helped me with organization skills,” says Leclerc.

   If students want to get involved with a group that helps out the community, while making lifelong friends, they should attend the first new members meeting on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in Ricker Addition 217. While being sworn into the group, each new participant will be paired with a mentor based off of a compatibility test. Throughout each person’s time in the club, they must meet up with their mentor at least once a week in order to keep the connection, and to discuss the community service they are doing, of which APO requires 15 hours per semester.

   Vigeant and Knowlton say that if someone is considering joining, they can go to the first meeting and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to stay. “We are very open and friendly and we like meeting new people” says Vigeant.