Former Real World star highlights night of service

Joe Patane, star of MTV’s “Real World, Miami” spoke to more than 60 students at the third floor of the Marvin Center Friday night as a part of “A Night to Give Back,” a program to celebrate philanthropy and community service.

“You may not be aware of how much potential you have as an individual and what a change you can make,” Patane said.

Patane opened his discussion by asking each student to stand up and turn to their right, then massage the neck and shoulders of the person next to them. He made sure everyone was introduced and shook hands.

“Pay attention to the person next to you, they could be your boss later in life,” said Patane.

The speech turned into an hour-long discussion with questions, jokes and wisdom. Patane’s central message was that “everyone can make a difference.”

He talked little about the notoriety he gained from his role on the “Real World” television show, opting to address the setbacks it has caused for him in his personal relationships and his business.

Patane used the money he made from the show to start his own non-profit organization in New York City called Joe’s World Foundation, which helps disadvantaged children learn computer skills. He distributed 20 copies of his book of memoirs called “Livin’ in Joe’s World.” With his experience and knowledge about volunteer work, he roused the students’ excitement in the evening’s events and volunteering.

“Common ground is the most important part of community service,” he said. “The fact that you are at school means you have a lot of gifts and talents and to share that is what tonight is about.”

Students said they were excited to see the TV personality and learn more about Patane.

“I initially went because I have watched Real World, but I knew he was involved in community service,” freshman Kim Pal said. “It was interesting to hear that he used his fame from the show and proceeds from his book to benefit his foundation.”

Other events included making greeting cards for sick children and the elderly, making peanut butter sandwiches for the homeless and attending the Bowl-a-thon to benefit Miriam’s Kitchen, a local soup kitchen.

Students watched the movie “With Honors,” and participated in discussions to increase awareness and understanding of hunger and its causes.

Raffle tickets benefiting the Red Cross were available for $1, with first prize a round trip ticket to anywhere in the United States. Information about community service organizations on campus was available and representatives were present to answer any questions.

The night ended with hot chocolate and s’mores while students listened to the works of Miriam’s Poets and Artists from Miriam’s Kitchen.

Elizabeth Cox, co-chair of “A Night to Give Back,” said she was very impressed with the turnout.

“There were 500 people packed into J Street making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” she said. “They made over 3,500 in half the time we estimated.”

Cox came up with idea of a campus-wide community service event in the Marvin Center after attending “Playtime” in the Marvin Center in the fall. She was able to organize the event through the Human Services program. The evening was such a success she is hoping that it will happen again regularly.

“I am hoping it either happens every semester, or year,” Cox said. “I hope to see it in September to show new students the volunteer opportunities on campus, and in the D.C. area.”

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