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heART of Milwaukee allows students to connect with the community

Dennis Tracy

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The heART of Milwaukee provided an opportunity for students to come together and share their talents during a meal with the community. The event took place this past weekend at the Redeemer Lutheran Church. The organization was trying to bring the homeless and students in the area to come together for a meal and express their love for the arts by performing music, poetry and featuring short documentaries about the people’s various day-to-day lives.

Megan Andreasen, a senior in the College of Nursing, and Giuliana Sutkiewicz, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, helped put the event together. Midnight Run is one of the service organizations that helps the city and has over 200 volunteers.  The heART of Milwaukee is the second event that Midnight Run ran this year where people of all ages can come out and show their appreciation of the arts by performing on stage.

“We focus on hunger and homelessness in Milwaukee, but along with that, the Human Dignity component,” Andreasen said.

By sitting down with someone and sharing a meal, they hope that people can treat one another with respect, learning from each other and helping the community.

Performers at the event included Tim Flanigan, a local guitar player who runs Pick Up My Guitar and Play, a place where Flanigan shares his favorite music pieces. He invites music lovers in the area to join in and contribute by sharing their works and stories of what inspired them to start playing.

Accompanying Flanigan, onstage was Nicole Rizzo, an a cappella singer in the Gold ‘n Blues and a junior in the College of Communication. Flanigan and Rizzo have been playing together for a couple of months and find the collaboration beneficial.

“We balance each other,” Rizzo said. “He’s got the guitar, I got the voice, he’s got a voice.”

Another performer was Ben Zellmer, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, who performed an original poem. He wrote it after being inspired by a documentary he saw at the Milwaukee Film Festival last month. “Romeo is Bleeding,” explores the lives of students and poets out in California trying to set up a production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” while dealing with issues of poor neighborhoods.

“I wrote it that day,” Zellmer said. “I made some tweaks a little bit along the way, but it was from experiences I pulled in with Midnight Run and Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

Zellmer has been a part of Midnight Run since his first semester of college and has been a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters since last October, another charity organization that provides children with a mentor.

Dr. Ray Lueck is a member of the Just One More cause, an organization that collects food that is about to go to waste and catered the event.

Lueck started as volunteer last year and has quickly moved up to be a volunteer coordinator for the organization. Lueck was also one of the piano performers at the event, where he played Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” The pastor at the church overheard Lueck playing, and he wanted him to come in and be a part of the performance.

“When I started volunteering here, and found a piano, I started having fun again,” Lueck said.

He took lessons when he was younger and began to play on his own. Although he stopped playing, as he did not own a piano, Just One More allowed him to picked it up again. Lueck encourages students and all others if they wish to join him at Just One More to help volunteer and help out the community.

 

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