To help bridge the gap between Marquette’s campus and its surrounding community, the university’s largest service organization, Midnight Run, will host the 5th annual Reel Poverty film festival tonight, showcasing stories about Milwaukeeans through films and art.
The free event will be held in the Union Sports Annex from 8 to 9:30 p.m.
The night will include three short student-made films, live music and refreshments. Among the bands performing is the Vet’s Place Band, an organization that hosts rehabilitation programs for retired veterans who are homeless or struggle with addiction.
Midnight Run is a student service organization working through Campus Ministry. The club includes more than 150 students who travel to service sites around Milwaukee once a week in groups of five to seven members.
Anne O’Meara, senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, was the primary organizer of the event.
“Over the course of the semester, we grow close relationships with those we serve,” she said. “This is the highlight event of our organization’s year and a chance to celebrate stories of those who live in Milwaukee.”
O’Meara said Reel Poverty was designed to open students’ eyes and encourage them to think beyond the confines of campus.
“It’s so easy for us to go about our business and not recognize the community of people that surround us,” O’Meara said.
“I am really looking forward to hearing them perform,” said Martha Novotny, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and member of Midnight Run. “It will be a fun night and will certainly allow students to see things in a new perspective.”
Cortney Van Duyse, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, said it can be uncomfortable to see the homeless around Milwaukee.
“I want to help them, but honestly, I don’t know where the money I give is going to,” Van Duyse said. “I am hesitant to give cash when someone asks me. My first reaction is to ignore (poverty) when I see it.”
Van Duyse said she also had a positive experience with helping someone she saw near campus on the street.
After she was walking back from Mashuda Hall with a box of food in her hand, a homeless man approached her and asked for cash.
“I immediately looked at his eyes, and he seemed so kind and gentle,” she said. “I told him I didn’t have any money on me, but I gave him my takeout, and he started crying because he was so thankful.”
Novotny said students can find value in stepping outside their comfort zones.
“It is so convenient for us to stay in the comfort of our Marquette bubble,” Novotny said. “But we have to step outside, because if we don’t, we are missing out on other’s stories and the opportunities to see perspectives different than our own.”