When most people think of fraternity, they picture college antics and the movie Animal House. We AEPi men know that there is far more to fraternity than the social events and the pranks. More than fifteen years since graduating college, I find that the connections we make in AEPi — as both undergraduates and alumni — can be powerful ones throughout our lives; sometimes in ways we do not expect.
One of the unexpected ways that AEPi has created connection and value in my life happened in 2021 just as I was preparing to become a father for the first time. Brother Josh Pollack (Florida, 2010) created a Facebook group called “AEPadres” with the group description: “This group is for all the AEPi dads to come ask for advice, vent, and find the best drink to cure whatever parenting issue you have.” Josh was also a soon to be father but hit on something amazing. The group took off quickly and today has around 500 members who regularly swap parenting information and a healthy number of “dad memes” just for good measure. A recent post showed a hack for getting kids to eat fruit and vegetables by putting stickers of their favorite cartoon characters on them.
The jokes and “dad hacks” are only part of the story. The rest is about fraternity men who work at being great fathers and support each other in that endeavor every single day. There are posts about what products are needed for first time parents, potty training, building swing sets, airline travel with young children, sleep training, diapers, sick children, caring for your wife post-partum, and more. Just as I wrote this Rob Report, Benjamin Silverberg (North Carolina, 2002) posted that his son lost his beloved teddy bear and Mike Kandel (George Washington, 2009) scoured the internet to find a replica. To me, this is embodiment of the mutual helpfulness that we all learned about when we joined AEPi.
One of the most amazing things to happen on this forum was the mobilization of Brothers helping one another to find baby formula last summer. In 2022, several formula manufacturing sites closed temporarily due to contamination, sparking a nationwide shortage of baby formula. In some locations it was extremely difficult to locate formula and, in many others, there were limitations on what and how much one could purchase. People who have children with certain allergies or intolerances were particularly impacted as they could not easily switch products. By May, Brothers in this group began to experience the shortages firsthand and by early June Brothers were posting about availability at their local stores and shipping to those who could not locate the formula that their kids needed. This mutual helpfulness happened “en masse,” without anyone formally requesting a program and with no other intent than simply making sure our Brothers could feed their kids. Why isn’t this what people think of when they think of fraternity men?
AEPi also helps me to be a father by showing me so many examples of great fathers who I can look up to. There are several that I have become close to over the years working for the fraternity, but I know of too many great dads to name. That said, one stands out above all the rest in my book. David Ogman (Florida, 1998) lives in South Florida and is an incredible champion for AEPi. He started the South Florida AEPi business networking group and often posts on AEPi social media forums but what some may not know is that one of his two children, his 7-year-old son Jordan, is also a Brother of AEPi. In 2019, Jordan received special permission to initiate as our youngest Brother because he is battling TECPR2, a rare and fatal Jewish genetic brain disease. You can read that full story at AEPi Voices: How My Son Became My Brother | AEPi. I cannot imagine what receiving a fatal diagnosis for your child would be like but I would think that it would be emotionally debilitating in and of itself. David was not debilitated. He has leveraged every contact he has and moved mountains in an effort to save his son. He found doctors who had the right skills and would only be limited by research funding then he set about working to raise the millions of dollars that it will cost to develop a cure. David has a full-time job as a financial adviser, a full time job as a husband and father, a full time job as a fundraiser, a full time job as a caretaker, and still finds time to play an active role in AEPi and his Jewish community. David claims to be caffeine-fueled but I know he is fueled by love for his family. He is in a race against time to develop a cure and my money is on David to win the race. I follow Jordan’s story and think of them often; David is an amazing father and I hope you have the chance to read about him and be as inspired by him as I have been.
Years ago, I was attending a very rowdy and tense chapter meeting. The students were debating a difficult issue and, after several hours, the chapter adviser got up and said, “Brothers, this is an important issue that I hope you resolve but it is time for me to get home to my family” and then he left. Days later, he lamented to me that advising is not only about spending time with students. It is also about exhibiting the values and behaviors which we believe make someone into the men that they should become. AEPi has always done that for me.
So, to the AEPi fathers and fathers of AEPis (especially my dad), I want to wish you a happy Father’s Day from AEPi.
Learn more about Jordan Ogman at: