Iota Nu (Nevada-Reno) serves community decimated by the Creek Fire

Hello brothers. On Labor Day weekend 2020, one of our members, and current Phi, Marcus Samson was at his family’s cabin at Huntington Lake, CA. At around 10 am his family was told to evacuate due to the Creek Fire starting nearby and growing quickly. Upon his return home to Reno, NV, Marcus decided that he wanted to do something for the First Responders and Victims of the fire that has decimated much of that area his family has been visiting since the 1960s.

Marcus reached out to many of the fraternity and sorority presidents in the Greek Community at the University of Nevada, Reno starting a donation drive for supplies. The Reno IIFC and Panhellenic councils put the word out to their members asking for donations of water, Gatorade, non-perishable food, and other much needed supplies such as eye drops. One of the Panhellenic advisors who works for a local radio station in Reno, and was even able to get an interview for him for their “Pack Pride” story. The interview was then played throughout the day for listeners all across Northern Nevada. In a week and a half, Greek Life mobilized in Reno to collect more than everyone could imagine. As Marcus was at work, he saw photo updates and realized that his pickup wouldn’t be enough, so he ordered a U-Haul trailer. All in all, a rough calculation determined that there was nearly 15,000 pounds of supplies donated and ready for transport.

Early on the morning of September 18, 2020, Brother Samson and two other members of the Iota Nu chapter set out on a long drive from Reno, Nevada to Prather, California. After seven plus hours of driving, they pulled into the parking lot for the donation center outside of the local Ace Hardware. Our members were greeted to a standing ovation from those organizing the relief effort. As our brothers unloaded the supplies some of the local volunteers stopped Marcus and asked where we came from and why we were helping. He told them his family’s history in the area and how he rallied Greek Life at UNR to help with the aid. Then he showed the locals the license plates, which were from his late grandfather and read “HUNTGTN,” to which many of the volunteers teared up.

When asked if our brothers were going to immediately turn around and head back to Reno, they replied that they had reserved a hotel in nearby Fresno and were going to head there. One of the main gentlemen in charge Justice Jones, asked if his truck was diesel as well because he wanted to fill it up from the tank at his father in-laws logging company just up the road. Marcus insisted that it was not necessary, but Mr. Jones insisted. Upon the return to the donation area our brothers were given the opportunity to help out more. Mr. Jones invited the three Iota Nu Zetes to stay at his house and asked if they could make a trip down to Clovis, CA for more supplies. As the fire containment improved, the donation areas were moved further up the hills, and there were still many donations left at the center in Clovis. Without hesitation, our brothers hopped back in the truck, went to Clovis and filled the truck and trailer with more supplies, and headed back to Prather to unload again.

After their return to Prather, our brothers followed Mr. Jones to his family’s home where they spent the night. Mrs. Jones cooked dinner and our three Zetes went outside and played basketball with the Jones’ children. The next morning, instead of returning straight back to Reno, Marcus and the two other Iota Nu Zetes, went back with the Jones’s to the donation center at 7 am to continue helping out. Since Marcus still had the U-Haul trailer, our brothers were asked to do a rare task. They were asked to shuttle supplies for the burn area victims further up the mountain, past the CHP blockade, and into the devastated area. The drop-off was at a local school that by some miracle was the only surviving building in the area. A volunteer riding along with our brothers told Marcus that she lost her house, and that she had not been up to see it in person yet. As they made their way up the mountain, smoke was still coming out of the ground, and tears were coming from the eyes of the volunteer as they passed our new friend’s house. Our brothers then helped unload the delivery of supplies and made their way back down to the donation site to say their goodbyes. Our brothers wished they could have stayed longer, but the impact that was made on all those volunteers and victims, and our brothers themselves will last a lifetime. Reno is 350 miles away from Huntington Lake, and google says that “Route may be affected by the Creek Fire.” You’re damn right it is.

In TKPhi, The Brothers of Iota Nu

Zeta Psi remembers all those impacted by the fires across the Pacific Northwest.  During a period with so much hardship – Coronavirus, Hurricanes, and civil unrest – it is easy to become blinded to the suffering of others.  Zeta Psi salutes all who volunteer to help make our communities better.