By Kendall Broglio
Do you think you have what it takes to impress an audience in 30 seconds? For 33 years at Flagler College, participants of a bachelor bid have backflipped, danced and skateboarded in an attempt to woo the crowd. The nature of the event is more than just winning over attention, though. Students and staff come together for one common goal: charity.
Phi Alpha Omega, a local sorority established in 1986, is recognized as the longest-standing club on Flagler’s campus. They have many annual traditions, but hosting the Bachelor Bid is one of their favorites. It is their biggest fundraiser of the year.
At the event, the entirety of campus is invited to “bid” on the volunteer bachelors. The highest bidder can then go on Valentine’s dates with the bachelors they bid on. Although the date is not required, the highest bidder of each bachelor gets to choose a gift card that local restaurants have donated to the event.
This year, the event will be held at 7 p.m. on February 10th at Markland House. Admission is $2 and all proceeds go to charity.
Preparation for the event begins over winter break and it is no easy task, but the executive board of the sorority has it down to a science.
“It is extremely important to start our jobs early … an event to this degree is a lot of pressure on the shoulders of eight students balancing school, work, and other organizations,” said Kayla Coleman, President of Phi Alpha Omega.
Coleman delegates specific jobs to the sisters at the end of the fall semester in order to begin planning. Three different committees — décor, food and bachelors — ensure the event will run smoothly.
The Social Chair, Hannah Arieti, and Associate Advisor, Sydni Powers, are in charge of the bachelors. The two will escort the bachelors during the event, but they are also in charge of tabling and encouraging students to participate.
“We advertise on social media as well as physically on campus to make sure students come out and support,” said Arieti. “I put a lot of emphasis on the charity, Hugs Across the County, because that’s the most important part of the event. We make sure to be as professional as possible and encourage our bachelors to engage with the crowd.”
The charity, Hugs Across the County, is a nonprofit organization based in St. Johns County. Their mission involves raising awareness about student poverty, working closely with school staff to identify needs and raise funds for students in crisis, providing classroom volunteers and mentors to Title 1 schools, according to their website.
Any of the 77 sisters of Phi Alpha Omega can nominate a charity for the event. The nominees are then voted on and the charity with the most votes is selected to receive all of the proceeds.
“It is always a very difficult decision as there are always numerous worthy nonprofit organizations,” Coleman said. “I believe the majority of sisters voted for HUGS because we know many Phi Alpha alumni who volunteered with them in the past. Most importantly, we are a local sorority, and it is important for us to give back to Flagler and also the St. Augustine community.”
Due to COVID-19, the sorority had to come up with creative remedies to ensure bachelor bid could still be successful. But the sisters found that the changes were more beneficial than not.
“In the past, we had issues with people being able to see or read the PowerPoint [that contained information on each bachelor]. Because the Bachelor Bid is now being held outside Markland House, each bachelor will have a personalized Instagram post so that everyone can read the information on their own device,” said Coleman.
The events Instagram handle is @bachelor.bid2022
No obstacle can tarnish the legacy that Phi Alpha Omega pursues to have on Flagler College. Last year, they raised over $1,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a foundation dedicated to fighting childhood cancer. The sorority strives for all their events, including the Bachelor Bid, to leave a positive impact on the community.
“Every person can make a difference. Flagler College is a small liberal arts school, but this does not mean we are not significant… students are constantly making something of themselves. When someone hears the name ‘Flagler College’ they don’t think of a football team. They have to think of the students and faculty,” said Coleman.
Phi Alpha Omega prides itself on providing service to the St. Augustine community and Flagler College through their core values of friendship, loyalty, honesty and sisterhood.
A bachelor who participated in the 2020 bachelor bid shares his experience and continues to encourage other students to attend the event.
“The experience was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be, said said Nick Pintabona, a Junior at Flagler. “I came in with the expectation that it was going to be a small event, but it was the complete opposite. Everyone in the room was so engaged in the performances that it created such an uplifting and entertaining environment to be in.”
Pintabona knew going in just how big of a fundraiser the event is for Phi Alpha: one of his main reasons for volunteering. He walked across the stage in 2020 proudly wearing a unicorn onside.
“I know how important these fundraisers are to reach the school and community,” Pintabona continued. “Phi Alpha does it in such a fun way because they get students to laugh and talk with people they may have never seen on campus before. It’s a great way to make new friends.”
“At the end of the day, the Bachelor Bid would have no impact or legacy if it wasn’t for the generosity of the students and faculty of Flagler College,” said Coleman.
Promoting unity, highlighting the dedication students have to their community and encouraging student involvement on campus is what Phi Alpha Omega’s bachelor bid is all about, and they will continue to uphold the tradition for as long as they possibly can.