By Ellin Youse and Cara Foley, Transcript Correspondent and Transcript Reporter
The House of Thought and House of Peace and Justice are combining forces this week to raise money and safe sex awareness in honor of a pregnant teen in Kenya.
Senior Abby Godfrey, a resident of HoT, said she began doing holding condom fundraisers when she became a Great American Condom Campaign Safe Site during her freshman year. She said she was awarded $500 in condoms to distribute on campus.
“My sophomore year, I was again a Safe Site, was awarded the condoms, and decided to amp up my efforts, make it a HoT project and ended up raising twice what I did the year before,” said Godfrey. “My junior year, I was both a Safe site and was given an Envoy position with Sir Richard’s Condom Company.”
She said she was awarded 500 Trojan condoms along with 1,000 Sir Richard’s condoms, and that she was able to spread the love much more widely than ever before.
“I am now a senior and am focusing more on distributing Sir Richard’s Condoms because I believe they are truly a better quality condom and they are a very socially conscious company.”
Sir Richard’s produces condoms that are “vegan friendly”; they do not contain the animal by-product casing and are 100 percent latex. For every condom sold during the Condomgrams fundraiser, Sir Richard’s donates one condom to Partners in Health, a foundation that provides relief to those suffering abroad. Partners in Health will then distribute those condoms to Haiti and Rwanda with the goal of promoting safe sex.
In previous years, the funds raised from Condomgrams and similar sales have been donated to the Abzyme Research Foundation, which is currently researching a vaccine for HIV. Godfrey said that while she still fully supports the Foundation, she has decided to raise money for a cause close to her heart.
“This year’s fundraiser is not only my house project, but also my Senior Seminar in Applied Sociology project,” she said. “I am raising money to build a house for a 13-year-old orphan (Fletcher) in Kenya.”
Godfrey worked in an orphanage last summer where she met children unable to attain proper information or materials to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or STDs. When Godfrey learned one of the girls she worked with was recently dismissed from the orphanage because of a pregnancy, she said she decided to hold the Condomgrams fundraiser to benefit this young girl and other teens in similar situations.
“I want to be able to raise enough money to build her a house,” Godfrey said. “Or at least provide her with enough money to set up a foundation and get her off the streets.”
“Not only are my proceeds going to a good cause, the revenue from the condoms themselves is going to a very philanthropic, socially conscious company,” Godfrey said.
The cause of the fundraiser relates to the mission statements of both HoT and P&J. Both houses promote critical thinking on campus and work to promote conscious awareness of global issues.
“A lot of social justice issues tend to fall through the cracks of curriculums and not a lot of people are aware of how dire the circumstances are for the majority of people all over the world,” Godfrey said.
Junior Erinn Colemenares said she got on board with the fundraiser to promote awareness.
Sitting at the Condomgrams booth in HamWill on Monday, Colemenares tried getting the attention of passing students.
“Condomgrams! Fifty cents to send to friend. No judgment!” she said.
The students continued walking and Colemenares sighed.
“A lot of people don’t even acknowledge our presence here when selling Condomgrams,” Colmenares said.
“But condoms are good! We’re college students who love sex and not babies.”
Sitting next to her was senior Michael Raszmann, who nodded his head in agreement.
“Safe sex is great sex,” said Raszmann, a resident of P&J.
Raszmann says that the fundraiser comes at an opportune time, being held during the Valentine’s Day season, but that it did not significantly influence the fundraiser.
“We would have definitely done this anyway, but we just thought it’d be an especially good motivator,” he said. “Abby’s been involved with (these types) of causes since her freshman year.”
Raszmann said the two houses will hold fundraisers similar to Condomgrams again, fundraisers Colemenares said she will be sure to encourage.
“We’re using condoms to promote a good cause as well as safe sex, to put the emphasis out there,” said Colemenares. “That’s what (HoT) is all about–yes, I want to have safe sex, and I want others to as well.”
Godfrey said she is, and always has been, very interested in issues of sexual and reproductive health both domestically and internationally.
She said she hopes to be doing work surrounding issues like these for the rest of her life.
“It is very important to me that people are aware of, and have access to the information and materials they need to have healthy and positive sex lives,” she said. “Like it or not people have sex; they may as well be protecting themselves and having fun, so why not support a great cause while they are at it?”