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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

JOURNAL: Community Service Organizations

Photo by Isabel Bonebrake

Service can mean different things to different people. For Rachel Piscoran, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, it means breaking boundaries.

Piscoran is a part of Marquette’s M.A.R.D.I. G.R.A.S, a student-run organization focusing on delivering disaster relief. The acronym stands for “Making A Difference In Gulf Regions and Areas Surrounding.”

“When we were doing service in Louisiana, we saw lots of people mentioning how local university students didn’t do anything to help. I think that we need to try so that’s not how Milwaukee sees us,” Piscoran says.

The group is mostly focused on helping relieve the damage that still persists from Hurricane Katrina, and the additional damages caused by the hurricanes that continue to fall in the surrounding regions.

The organization sends several students a year to areas such as Texas, New Orleans and Panama City.

Piscoran was active last year, when the organization sent a group of 33 students to New Orleans to help mitigate the damages left by these natural disasters.

“It felt like we were really making a difference, specifically one day that we helped a grocery store owner paint his storefront. Every time I saw the kids going in and getting ice cream and they saw us and smiled, it felt like I was doing more than painting,” Piscoran says.

While M.A.R.D.I. G.R.A.S. provides opportunities for many students who wish to conduct service off campus or out of state, other service organizations are based partially or completely in Milwaukee.

Best Buddies is an organization that aims to create safe environments for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and educating volunteers on their needs and abilities.

Gracie Berentson, a senior in the College of Health Sciences and co-president of Best Buddies, explains why she chooses to do service on campus with Best Buddies.

“Being out in the community has really helped me sink into Milwaukee better. I’m confident when I walk around campus, I feel engaged and I feel like I’m really helping the people around me,” Berentson says.

The organization usually functions by assigning each volunteer to a participant. The two will usually schedule one-on-one meetings apart from the activities that the group plans.

Additionally, Best Buddies opts to plan official club activities in different spaces, such as day trips to the pumpkin patch, afternoons in bowling alleys and nights at basketball games.

Jada Williams, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and co-president of Best Buddies, defined the experience as a great leap.

“I’ve done service before, but going from only working with kids to working with adults has been an awesome experience. You learn so much about how others think and feel,” Williams says.

While Williams does her service in the Milwaukee community, some, like Jordan De La Hunt, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, wants to see where in the world their service can take them.

De La Hunt is a co-leader of Global Brigades, a service organization providing medical aid and resources locally and internationally.

The group tries to work on a semester-to-semester basis. In the first semester, students start planning for international aid trips. The students are accompanied by licensed medical professionals, ensuring ethical and professional care for patients. In the second semester, students start planning service work for the Milwaukee community.

The organization is partnered with six countries. Locally, the organization is partnered with City on a Hill.

City on a Hill is a faith-based Milwaukee organization aiming to help reduce the effects of oppression and increase education and hope in Milwaukee. The organization partners with several groups on campus.

“I think partnering with City on a Hill is what really got our students into the community. I think a big part of breaking the bubble has to do with really getting out there and actually meeting the Milwaukee community,” De La Hunt says.

The “Marquette bubble” is a term that’s used often when talking about the university’s effect on the greater Milwaukee area.

“You know how everyone talks about the Marquette bubble? I think service has helped me pop the bubble, or at least my bubble,” Berentson says.

Piscoran also mentions how service has helped her connect with the community.

“Even when we did service in the community, it felt like we were building something bigger than just an activity. It felt like we were making a real difference in people’s lives,” Piscoran says.

This story was written by Clara Lebron. She can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Clara Lebrón
Clara Lebrón, Print Production Manager
Clara Lebrón is a senior from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico studying journalism and health studies at the university and is the Print Production Manager for the 2024-2025 school year. Previously, Clara was an opinions columnist for two years. Outside of The Wire, she enjoys baking, reading books and watching movies.

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