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Saint Mary’s students to volunteer at local Arts Cafe event

| Friday, September 27, 2019

On Sunday the Near Northwest neighborhood of South Bend will be hosting its annual Arts Cafe. Members from the Saint Mary’s student body will be participating in the event by helping out in the children’s area for the third year in a row.

“The Arts Cafe is a neighborhood festival in the Near Northwest neighborhood. The festival itself has been going on for over 15 years. The Near Northwest neighborhood is just a little north and west of downtown South Bend,” said Rebekah Go, the director of the Office for Civic and Social Engagement at the College.

Go said the College got involved with the Arts Cafe a few years back and have continued along with it.

“Around this time two years ago, we were approached by one of the organizers of the Arts Cafe who always helped execute the kids’ area of the festival and asked if Saint Mary’s could help and send volunteers,” Go said. “So we sent volunteers that first year, and they’ve been asking us ever since to come back and help.”

Go said she feels this event is good for the College and students.

“It allows us to sponsor the kid’s area and also provide an opportunity for our students to get off campus and go to one of our neighborhoods in South Bend,” she said.

The Office for Civic and Social Engagement will also be providing transportation to and from the event for the College’s volunteers.

“We have these three little cars in our office, and we usually do little shuttles back and forth,” Go said. “That’s because the event itself is six hours, and we don’t ask people to stay the entire time. So we do three different shifts and we then bring the girls back and forth and that makes it a little easier for the girls.”

The Near Northwest neighborhood has a convenient proximity to campus and unique features that make it worth visiting, Go said.

“One of the neat things about that particular neighborhood is that it’s not that far from campus, and you can get there by biking even,” she said. “It also has the Local Cup, which is a pay it forward coffee shop that’s located in that neighborhood and it’s staffed in part by Saint Mary’s students.”

Go said visiting the neighborhood is a nice way for students to interact with the areas around them and with the other students who work at the coffee shop.

“For the students who work at the Local Cup, it’s nice for them to see their fellow students in the neighborhood and for students who have never been to the Local Cup or for whom this is their first time in the neighborhood, it’s nice for them to see something off campus that’s not the mall,” she said.

Go said Sunday’s event has numerous great things to offer those who attend or volunteer.

“It’s got a lot of really great energy. There are artists and musicians, and they have a stage and different acts will play,” she said. “Then there’s a whole area with the food trucks and food stations.”

Go said the event shows off the unseen aspects of the neighborhood and is a great opportunity to bring in those from outside the community itself.

“This festival was founded as a way to highlight what is good in the neighborhood and to bring together the community that is inside the neighborhood as well as outside of it, so others could see all the good things going on,” she said.






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