“I was taught to go big or go home so when I got involved in my campus and community, I’ve gone big. Real big.”
Brother Zach Sandler (Illinois, 2018) has certainly done that. Last year, he was named the Undergraduate Student Volunteer of the year by the Illini Union at the University of Illinois. Chosen for this recognition from among the more than 30,000 undergraduates at his school, Zach was honored for his work with children in the community on the autism spectrum.
“I was doing research for some professors trying to understand family needs with kids under the age of 18 who are on the autism spectrum and I met this person from the local autism society. They asked me to sit on a committee and I became really interested in doing what I can to help children with autism and their families.”
But, Zach doesn’t just sit on committees. He gets involved in helping people. He packs food boxes for the homeless, volunteers in the pediatric department of the local hospital, teaches swimming to disabled children at the YMCA, volunteers for Keshet and now serves on the governing advisory committee for the Champaign-Urbana autism network. And, of course, Brother Sandler serves as the philanthropy chair at AEPi’s Delta chapter at the University of Illinois.
“Being philanthropy chair was kind of a natural for me but it has been great to do some really cool and important things alongside all of my brothers. I remember when I got us involved with our local Habitat for Humanity group and we all got to go to a house that was being renovated and just tear down walls and stuff. It was fun – and destructive – but for a great cause.”
Additionally, Brother Sandler is very involved in his campus’ pro-Israel community, serving as a Hasbara fellow and working with IlliniPac and the SSI group on campus. He’s also teaching a class with other students about speaking about Israel.
Next month, behind Zach’s leadership, AEPi will be sponsoring its first ever “Bubble Soccer” tournament. “I saw that the AEPi chapter at Colorado had done something like this so I reached out to them and got some ideas. That was pretty cool.” The event will be held on October 9 and will benefit the Autism Society. For more information, visit http://www.knockforacause.com.
“Growing up in the northern suburbs of Chicago and coming to Illinois, I knew that I wanted to be an AEPi. I signed my first night of my freshman year and have now served as our pledge class president, philanthropy chair and Jewish Identity and Israel chair.
“My mentors in AEPi taught me to get involved and I’m so glad they did. I love passing along that value to the younger guys now. AEPi gives me an outlet to share why this is so important.”