STAND pursues global peace throughout South

Smile for STAND: Posing following the club's 2015-2016 yearbook photo, senior leaders Grace Kilpatrick and Kate Hegay prepare for the club's at fundraising efforts  and programs. This marks the tenth year of the club at South.

Smile for STAND: Posing following the club's 2015-2016 yearbook photo, senior leaders Grace Kilpatrick and Kate Hegay prepare for the club's at fundraising efforts and programs. This marks the tenth year of the club at South.

Abby Grant & Gina Kim, staff reporters

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Students Taking Action Now in Darfur, (STAND) members can often be seen throughout South fundraising and raising awareness for various global charities and organizations promoting world peace. This was no different in 2013, according to Kate Hegay, senior STAND board member, when the club reigned in success in an event benefiting refugees and displaced peoples in Syria.

“It was a moment where I personally witnessed somebody take notice of issues that are going on around the world, and I saw that the impact in one person that STAND could have,” Hegay said. “That’s one person, but that’s one victory, and that’s kind of all we ask for as a club.”

According to STAND sponsor Matthew Whipple the club originated from Georgetown University, but soon become an interest of students at South when they proved to be passionate about global affairs and world peace efforts.

“I had two students come to me, saying, ‘We don’t know a lot about Darfur, or Sudan, but we’re hearing [about] it in the news; we want to do something about it,’” Whipple said.

Hegay related her experience of being born in Uzbekistan as an important drive and personal connection as to why she participates in the club.

“I was born in a third world country,” Hegay recalled. “So it’s become very important to me to advocate for my friends and my family and all the other people who are stuck in these places and these situations where no one is giving them a voice, and they don’t have a voice themselves.”

Grace Kilpatrick, senior STAND board member explained how members are motivated to improve the world around them on all levels.

“I think it’s very rare to find a group of individuals who are so self-motivated to improve not only their local community, but the international community as a whole.” Kilpatrick said.

According to Whipple, the club initially focused its efforts and fundraising towards those in Darfur, but as the club expanded, a variety of donations and programs were brought to STAND’s agenda.

”We’ve donated to UN refugee group for Syria, we’ve donated to a Cambodian organization run by a woman who was an escaped sex slave herself, named Samali Lam,” Whipple said. “We sent somebody to her organization, and we’ve sent over $25,000 over the years to Darfur to help rebuild schools.”

Kilpatrick explained that one of STAND’s latest endeavors  has been centered around a young girl named Purity, whom the club raises funds for through Matanya’s Hope, a Kenyan organization that focuses on providing education to children. According to Whipple, the club aims to fund Purity enough money to send her through four years of school. Kilpatrick explained her reaction towards Purity’s education, and the impact it has made on her over the past two years participating in the club.

“When we first started contributing to Purity’s education, […] I felt I was contributing to something, but I couldn’t quite have a tangible grasp on what that something was,” Kilpatrick said. “Receiving a letter from her talking about her experiences in Kenya, the lack of resources they had, how grateful she was […] The first letter we received from her was the first tangible evidence of, ‘wow, we’re actually making a difference in other people’s existence.’”

Linking the North Shore suburbs to a Kenyan community has left a deep impact on current junior Grace Cepaeda, who participated in STAND in the Stands, the club’s fundraiser to collect money for Purity’s education during the 2015 Homecoming football game.

“Something as simple as [STAND in the Stands] took twenty minutes, and [Purity’s] getting an education,” Cepaeda said.

According to Cepaeda, STAND’s contribution to Purity and other efforts has not only left effects on the recipients, but also on the students who contributed.

“Sometimes it feels like I’m just one person, but with STAND, because we’re all together, everyone can lend a hand, and it can make much bigger waves,” Cepaeda said.

Later on in the school year, STAND will work with Amnesty International to raise awareness for several global issues at its musical performance event: Jamnesty. According to Whipple, this event is one of the many fundraisers STAND conducts, in addition to working the Glenview Street Fair and hosting a Refugee awareness week. Whipple explained how through these fundraisers, STAND seeks to open the South community to issues on a worldwide scale.

Whipple shared his visions for STAND’s future. Reaching out to the community is not the only long-term goal Whipple has in store; he returned to the foundations of the club: its students.

”My hope is that however [that] this group continues to evolve, […] as long as students are excited about the idea that they can make a difference, that will be a success. Everything else is just extra success,” Whipple said.

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