Grace Center of Southern Oklahoma hosting film screening fundraiser

Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite

Grace Center of Southern Oklahoma is hosting a film fundraiser August 6 at the Charles B. Goddard Center. 

The fundraiser starts at 7 p.m. and will screen the 2018 movie “The Public” and aims to highlight the challenges of homelessness and how it impacts the community. “The Public” is written and directed by Emilio Estevez and centers around a public library that suddenly gets thrown into the city’s homelessness issue on a winter night when homeless patrons decide to take shelter in the library. 

The film stars Gabrielle Union, Alec Baldwin, Jenna Malone and Estevez. Advance tickets are available online for $20 per person and will be available at the door for $25 per person. 

Laura Akers, executive director of the Grace Center said one of the reasons why the organization decided to showcase the film is because it correctly portrays what needs to be considered when talking about homelessness and relates directly to the work the Grace Center does.

“One of the reasons why I like the film is that it portrays homelessness and people experiencing homelessness very accurately,” Akers said. “It does so with dignity and recognizing that people experiencing homelessness are important people too. That’s a very important message that we try to share through our work at the Grace Center of Southern Oklahoma.”

Akers said this is the first time the Grace Center has done a film screen fundraiser. The organization typically hosts a fundraiser once a year. In the past, the Grace Center has done a charity dance, but when the pandemic started, the agency couldn’t do charity dances.

Akers said the Grace Center decided to host a film fundraiser because they wanted to showcase a movie that connected to their mission and allow people to be six feet apart and still have a fun and safe night. Following the film, there will be a 30 minute panel discussion on effective solutions for ending homelessness in Ardmore.

“The film has some pretty heavy themes [such as] homelessness, mental illness, recovery, democracy and protesting,” Akers said. “All those are themes in the film. We wanted the opportunity for the audience to discuss the film, ask some questions of people that work in the field and are working day in and day out with the homeless community as well as mental health professionals."

The panel will comprise of Karlie Harper, day center director for the Grace Center and James Baker, a Ardmore resident who has experienced homelessness. 

“When you speak to someone who has the lived experience of homelessness, you really learn that there is so much more to homelessness than just sleeping on the streets,” Akers said. “There’s a story behind that of how that person came to experience that, and the story that you might hear might surprise you.”