Frater Creates Project TKE
MANHATTAN, NY - "Tell a kid a joke and you make them smile for a day, but transform a kid's environment with art and music, and you will make them smile for eternity." Such is the message on Project TKE (Transforming Kids' Environments') website; a nonprofit organization that aims at improving the lives of children in hospitals by improving their surroundings.
Josh Fifer, a Pace University alumnus, started the Project in 2001 while in the Pi-Tau Chapter. Originally, Project TKE was created exclusively for the fraternity so that its members could volunteer in the five boroughs. During that time, the Project worked with the Boys and Girls Club in Harlem to paint several nature-themed murals for children's rooms in hospitals, including the nearby New York Downtown Hospital.
In 2004, Fifer re-created Project TKE as a separate entity from the fraternity. Today, while there are many TKE fraternity members actively participating, Project TKE is completely separate from the fraternity, meaning anyone can sign up to volunteer. Project TKE now works with many diverse organizations such as NYC public schools, the Boy/Girl Scouts, YMCA, The Boys/Girls Club and a variety of college organizations, after-school organizations, artists, poets and individuals who donate money or volunteer.
Project TKE's mission is to help children by improving the environments in which they live. In too many hospitals, kids are left having nothing to do but stare at a blank wall or watch television. Project TKE changes this by decorating, donating, establishing and entertaining. Volunteers can help decorate rooms (which are often done in special themes) or donate paintings, music, photography and books. While the Project TKE volunteers decorate or help establish libraries in the hospitals, they usually have volunteers entertain the children with music. Virtually, whatever talent a person has can help Project TKE. "It doesn't take any special talent to help children in hospitals by showing you care," Fifer said.
Last summer, Project TKE started off by collecting artwork from fifteen different public schools in the city and then distributing it to hospitals abroad. They also donated different supplies to places like Barcelona, Rome, and Africa. Project TKE believes that helping out overseas is just as important as helping out in America, as many hospitals and hospices abroad do not have the same resources as the U.S. does. Currently, they are involved in helping 38 hospitals and hospices in 17 countries. To do this, Project TKE identifies hospitals that wish to be helped and contacts volunteers in their area to make them aware of the situation. Along with Project TKE, the hospital composes a "wish list" that the volunteers attempt to fulfill.
This year, Project TKE and other organizations are working with Lincoln Medical Center to help decorate 21 rooms in the hospital. The project was anticipated to cost around $250,000 dollars, but thanks to all the volunteers and donations, the only things Lincoln Medical Center has to pay for are paint and supplies.
As of Oct. 22, 10 rooms have been painted in the hospital in themes of jungles, Coney Island and soccer, among others. In addition, the nurse's station is expected to be decorated in a Grand Central Station theme. Almost halfway done, Fifer believes the Lincoln Medical Center project will be completed by the first or second week of Nov.
"It's a great program. I mean, it's just such a simple, good idea," Junior business management major John MacBride said. While there are many different organizations to volunteer for, Project TKE is unique, fun and offers a flexible schedule. Nursing major Dewey Marrow sees the benefits of joining Project TKE: "It only takes a few hours a week here and there, and it's something I enjoy doing anyway."
Singers, writers, poets, artists, kids and adults alike are involved in Project TKE. Anyone who wants to be involved in changing an unfortunate child's life to something a little more colorful is welcome. The easiest way to become a part of Project TKE is to go to Projecttke.org and click the "Get Involved" section.
The Offices of the Grand Chapter send a heartfelt thanks to the gentlemen of Pi-Tau for their efforts.
Adapted from Pace Press Online. If you would like to see your chapter news here, contact Communications Coordinator Tom McAninch.