"The Gill family's home was recently destroyed by the Valley Wildfire. The home was the operating location of the family business used to support their two children, one of whom, Jacob, is attending UC Berkeley. Jacob and his father are both Brothers of the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, so the Berkeley Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi is doing our part to help them out. Jacob is also very involved on campus, always looking for ways to serve the community. Now let's do our part to help give back."That was the message delivered by the brothers of California Gamma on the GoFundMe page for Brother Jacob Gill (Cal '14) after his family lost their home in the recent rash of California Wildfires. Jacob's father is also a Phi Psi; Tim Gill was initiated at California Eta (Cal Poly '81). It is a heartbreaking story that was confronted head-on by the undergraduate membership of the chapter. After learning of this terrible tragedy, the members (including District VI Archon, Thomas Zorrilla) went to the popular fundraising platform GoFundMe to start a campaign. That campaign was started on September 14, 2015.
The goal: raise $10,000 for their brothers in need.
Within 48 hours (and over 100 donations later), the campaign raised well over $11,000.
We asked Jacob about the GoFundMe campaign and how it affected his family. He said, "Before I even knew about how much support my family was actually receiving, my younger brother Connor, who is a 16 year old at Middletown High School, called me and simply said, 'Dude. Phi Psi is awesome.' He then told me that I needed to go online and check out the GoFundMe. I was blown away. Everything felt very surreal. I had previously thought that I understood the extent to which the Fraternity would be a resource and a support system for me, but I think that no one can fully comprehend it until they experience it. My family is absolutely in awe and unconditionally grateful for the support we have received. We received support from not only actives and alumni from chapters across the nation, but also from the friends and family of my brothers. It has been incredibly helpful as well as a force of hope during a dark time for us."
Thomas Zorrilla, who helped organize the campaign, exclaimed, "I believe that the outpouring of support from across the county and world is a truly amazing representation of the strength of our brotherhood. I hope that the love and support from brothers near and far was able to offer much needed comfort for the Gill family, and reassure them that we are all standing by them."
It wasn't just undergraduates who were involved in the campaign. Alumni Brother John Klentos (Oklahoma '83) left this comment on the campaign page: "...the outpouring of generosity by Phi Psis across the country is amazing. Fraternity is about so much more than epic parties... it's about Brotherly Love. I'm so proud of these guys."
Jamey Gill (who is Jacob's mom/Tim's wife), gave this emotional response to the outpouring of support on the GoFundMe page: "It offers us so much hope that we will be able to start over and end up strong. I cry as I write this. We are truly humbled. How do I extend an appropriate thank you? It seems an impossible task."
The campaign was closed by the chapter on September 22, 2015. In just eight days, these young men were able to capitalize on the power of social media and the power of brotherhood to raise a grand total of $16,020 for Jacob and his family. The money will be used to support Jacob's college tuition, room and board. While the family begins re-establishing their life in a new home and continues to run a business, the $16,020 will go a long way to ensuring that Jacob is able to finish his education.
This level of support for our brothers in California demonstrates to all of us that true brotherhood extends beyond geographical barriers. Let this be an example to everyone of what support and service looks like in a time of immediate need.
The Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity is a 501(c)(7) association of men of integrity who strive to develop the individual in his intellect, in his involvement in the community and in his faith. The Fraternity was founded on February 19, 1852 at Jefferson College by William Henry Letterman and Charles Page Thomas Moore. It currently has 100 chapters across the United States, with over 6,500 undergraduate members and over 80,000 living alumni.