Mission-driven volunteers lend helping hand to those in need through Project Homeless Connect 

Volunteers live out the Jesuits’ Universal Apostolic Preference of walking with the excluded

For the first time since going virtual during the pandemic, Project Homeless Connect — an annual event run by United Way to support people experiencing homelessness — is returning to the Alumni Memorial Union on Oct. 19 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. 

Since 2009, the Marquette campus community has united to help those experiencing homelessness as part of Project Homeless Connect; it has been held at the AMU since 2013.  

The event brings together 700 guests and over 400 volunteers to make city-wide resources accessible to people experiencing housing and food insecurity. Services include health clinics, housing referrals, personal pantry items, haircuts and portraits, and more. There is also a quiet room for meditation. Each guest may choose the services they visit according to their needs. 

Marquette is a natural host for the event, tying directly to the university’s Catholic, Jesuit mission.  

“One of our pillars is transformational service, which recognizes, respects and cherishes the dignity of each individual, and encourages campus community members to develop skills and the courage to work toward a more just society,” says Mary Sue Callan-Farley, director of Campus Ministry. “Project Homeless Connect affirms that access to basic human rights of housing, food, medical care, etc., are essential for human flourishing; that communities can and must work together successfully to assure access for all individuals; and that Marquette has a role to play in addressing critical issues of our city.” 

Senior Director of Community Engagement Kelsey Otero says Project Homeless Connect represents hope and dignity as volunteers serve as ambassadors while walking alongside guests, helping them access vital resources.  

“The accompaniment provides a much-needed sense of community for everyone who participates,” Otero says. “In a world where we are all busy and on the go, the opportunity to spend time in the community, build empathy and deepen our connection with others is a true gift.” 

Spending time and walking with others is a direct call to the Society of Jesus’ Universal Apostolic Preference of walking with the excluded, which states: “Communities desire to be more hospitable and open, learning how to live more deeply in the Spirit of Jesus. 

“In all our work, we want to unite people where they are separated, to heal them where they are wounded. We want to work collaboratively in this field hospital of our world, witnessing to a faith that promotes reconciliation based on justice.”  

“Project Homeless Connect is a practical way to enter into the Universal Apostolic Preference, accompanying our neighbors and lending hands to experts and agencies who serve marginalized people every day in Milwaukee,” Callan-Farley says.    

People interested in volunteering may sign up by registering ahead of time to secure a shift.