A group of eager guests gathered around a table at the entrance; each one searching through the pile of nametags, scanning over names like, Gov. Bob Taft and President Daniel Curran. Guests began to stretch further into the room, passing table after table decorated with menus and agendas. A little blue continent of Africa appeared everywhere with a hopeful message: Water for the Warm Heart of Africa.

A benefit dinner hosted by the University of Dayton’s chapter of Determined to Develop’s goal was to raise money to equip the Sangilo Private Hospital in Chilumba, Malawi, with a water pump and tank that will provide better healthcare to over 35,000 Malawians.

The guest list was diverse with students, faculty, alumni and community guests. All seats were sold out; a total of 430 people gathered with one mission in mind. The room was filled with positive energy, with guests writing donations and bidding on auction items. By the end of the night $6,500 was raised for the project, and they are still counting.

Allison Varricchio ’13 and Stephen Crum ’14 took the stage to welcome the guests. The room filled with a sense of community, friends and strangers working together to create a better life for a similar community across an ocean. As the people of Malawi sat down to their dinner in another country, the community of UD sat down to theirs.

The meal was a traditional Malawi dinner of Masamba, a dish of greens with tomatoes, and a dessert of Mandasi, a donut-like pastry. The only beverage was a glass of water, a symbol of the water the chapter hopes to bring to Malawi. As the guests finished their meals, an introduction by Varricchio brought Matt Maroon ’06, founder of Determined to Develop, to the stage.

Maroon undertook a year of service with the Marianist brothers in Malawi, Africa. When Maroon returned to Malawi, he founded Maji Zuwa, a community hub where visitors and local residents come together to work on development projects, the next step being the nonprofit organization Determined to Develop to support the projects like Water for the Warm Heart of Africa.

‘Together, we can make a difference in the warm heart of Africa,” Maroon said.

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