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Alumni serve displaced Hispanics in Chicago

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Two Notre Dame alumni currently reside as live-in workers at Su Casa, a house of hospitality in South Chicago, as part of a ministry class of 2012 graduate Adam Cowden said is three-fold.

“We provide hospitality and a healing environment for displaced Hispanic people who are poor, homeless, and oppressed; we partner with our neighbors to make our community a better place to live, and we engage in educational and social action activities concerning social justice issues related to our ministry,” Cowden said.

Located in an old Franciscan friary, Su Casa provides an environment of healing and hope to displaced Latino families. It primarily serves Latino women and children who have left domestic violence situations, and workers live among the guests. 

Class of 2012 graduates Adam Cowden (left) and Kyla Wargel wrap Christmas gifts for guests at Su Casa, a Chicago shelter that serves Hispanic women and children who are victims of domestic violence.Photo courtesy of Su Casa

Class of 2012 graduates Adam Cowden (left) and Kyla Wargel wrap Christmas gifts for guests at Su Casa, a Chicago shelter that serves Hispanic women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

Cowden, with another 2012 graduate Kyla Wargel live and work among the guests at Su Casa. Their responsibilities include cooking, cleaning, daily house upkeep, tutoring, information technology/administrative services and communications support.

Su Casa’s volunteer work also includes a soup kitchen that serves the larger community three times a week and an outreach program that seeks to educate others on issues that affect the Latino population, such as homelessness, domestic violence and immigration reform. 

“Workers also help provide … fundraising support, volunteer coordination, house management, food and donation pickup and processing, maintenance services and occasional childcare,” Cowden said. “Most of my responsibilities fall within case management support, tutoring, IT support and communications.”

Cowden first became involved with Su Casa when he participated in an Urban Plunge trip through Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns in the winter of 2010, he said. 

“The experience left a lasting impression on me,” Cowden said. “After a year of living and working in Nashville, Tenn., following graduation, I wanted to spend a year doing service while figuring out my next steps, including where I wanted to apply for grad school. Su Casa was the first place I thought of, and they happened to be looking for volunteers at the time I inquired.”

Cowden said the education he received at Notre Dame influenced his decision to come to Su Casa. 

“Studying Political Science and PPE [Philosophy, Politics and Economics] with a focus on development at Notre Dame and writing a senior thesis related to international development allowed me to explore my interest in development and working in developmentally disadvantaged areas and helped prepare me to examine some of the challenges that our guests face with a critical eye,” Cowden said.

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About Kayla Mullen

Kayla is a senior political science major and the Managing Editor of The Observer. She hails from Philadelphia, PA and was previously a resident of Howard Hall.

Contact Kayla