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Corby Bricks ND seeks to break cycle of homelessness in South Bend

| Wednesday, November 17, 2021

This fall, the Center for the Homeless in South Bend has launched a new social entrepreneurship venture called Corby Bricks ND. Through the project, guests at the center create special artwork using pieces of real, 130+ year-old brick from Notre Dame’s original Corby Hall. The art is sold to raise money for the center. 

Megan Fahrney | The Observer
Betty, a guest at the Center for the Homeless, works on cleaning the pieces of slate before they are glued.

Steve Camilleri, executive director of the Center for the Homeless, said the project uses repurposed materials to create artwork, similar to how the guests find purpose again in their work at the center.

“To see the guests that have worked down here and how much it means to them to be able to take these items and restore them, it reminds them of their life, is what they’ve told me,” Camilleri said. “They’ve been given a second chance at the center.”

The framed pieces feature an ND logo made with the original Corby Hall yellow-buff brick and black slate roof pieces from the recently renovated Corby Hall.

Each piece is sold at a suggested donation of $1,842 in honor of the year of the University’s founding. There are 500 pieces that will be available for sale. 

Notre Dame has maintained strong ties with the Center for the Homeless ever since Father Edward “Monk” Malloy founded it in the 1980s. 

Due to COVID-19, many fundraising events that the center relies on to continue running have been canceled. Events such as Lipsync with our Stars and the Miracle Holiday Luncheon, which generally raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, were not able to occur in the past couple of years. 

This project might make up for some of the money lost due to these cancellations, Camilleri said, as it will hopefully raise up to $1 million. 

The studio where the pieces are created is housed in the basement of the center. There, guests create other types of artwork as well, including mirrors sold to restaurants made with recycled corks.

The goal of the project is to raise money for the center while teaching guests valuable work skills, helping to break the cycle of homelessness. 

Betty, a guest at the Center for the Homeless who helps create art, said the project is very important to her.

“The most basic reason why it’s important to me is because it tells me that I can be employed again,” Betty said. “I was unemployed for a long time, and now I know that I can do a job, and I can do it well, and I can get hired to do it.”

Danny, another guest at the center, said the meaning of the project to him lies in the good he is able to do for himself and for the guests and staff at the center. He said his soul has grown as a result of participating in the project.

“It keeps us going, we’re learning something here,” Danny said. “It’s a gift of God to me.”

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