Observer Editorial: Break the bubble, back the Bend
Observer Editorial Board | Friday, April 1, 2022
If you had a nickel for every time you heard someone complain about South Bend as boring or cold, you’d probably be rich, right? But how many of us have actually given the city a fair shot?
During the spring semester in the absence of football tailgates, students often voice a lack of entertainment or social events. This boredom is the perfect opportunity to explore and give back to the South Bend community.
While living in the tri-campus bubble, students might forget that South Bend is more than just the place where Notre Dame is located — it’s a city all on its own. You might not think it boasts the same glamour as Chicago or New York City, but South Bend has countless charms if you’re willing to look for them.
There’s an abundance of opportunities to give back to South Bend, especially this weekend as Notre Dame Student Government hosts the Back the Bend service event.
Many tri-campus students prioritize service, but not everyone realizes just how accessible helping the community can be. There are local non-profits, food baskets and homeless shelters right down the road from the Golden Dome. Whether you like reading to younger kids or supporting the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, you don’t have to wait until you graduate to contribute to the causes you care about.
We encourage students to sign up for the Back the Bend event, but if you can’t attend, the Center for Social Concerns has an extensive directory of community organizations that students can get involved with at any time.
As home to The Observer’s annual staff inauguration ceremony, our staff appreciates Rulli’s Pizza for its cozy atmosphere and variety of delicious Italian dishes. Additionally, Chicory Cafe is a great weekday getaway with everything you need. The South Bend location is close to the tri-campus, brews locally roasted pots of coffee, serves New Orleans-inspired Cajun food and hosts free WiFi for studying. Erasmus Books is a fantastic local option for affordable books and is located on the first floor of the owner’s quaint craftsman home. There’s no shortage of businesses to explore, and you might be surprised at what South Bend has to offer.
Through afterschool programs, adult education initiatives and daily meals in their soup kitchen, the SBCH has ample opportunities for students to accompany underprivileged people in South Bend. Motels4Now is another initiative that helps the homeless get back on their feet through long-term housing initiatives.
Unity Gardens benefits both our bellies and South Bend’s local economy through its locally-grown food initiative, so definitely check out their volunteer opportunities. The Zoo is currently looking for employees, interns and volunteers — a fantastic opportunity for anyone who is interested in conservation or education. If you still haven’t heard of Howard Park, this outdoor space is a student favorite for ice skating and green space, and it’s only a few minutes from campus and downtown.
The RCLC is only a block away from campus and hosts a multitude of programs focused on teaching children how to become powerful and ethical learners. The Center for Civic Engagement, which utilizes tri-campus student tutors, encourages children to find joy in reading and learning. Students can also mentor at the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County. Here, you can help inspire young children to see past the boundaries of their circumstances and encourage them to rise to their full potential.
There is no way to detail all the amazing ways to interact with the South Bend community, but if there’s one thing you take away from this editorial, we hope it’s a desire to explore the city beyond the tri-campus borders. Break the bubble, back the Bend.