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La Casa de Amistad hosts alternative break students

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – La Casa de Amistad is hosting 17 students from Slippery Rock University and Northern Illinois University who are spending their Spring Break giving back in South Bend.

This week, students have engaged in community service and learned about South Bend's neighborhoods and immigrant history.

“I’m glad to be here. I’m learning a lot. It’s almost like I’m working, but I’m volunteering,” said NIU Sophomore Randy Parent.

“I want to help everybody in the community; I want to give back because that’s what part of what my mission is,” he said.

Every morning, students have done something learning and engagement related with the organization. They've met with community leaders and toured historical buildings. In the afternoons, they’ve been involved with La Casa programming like citizenship classes and youth programs.

The students are helping to continue programs throughout the week, filling a void Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross students have left while they’re away on Spring Break.

“They make 80 percent of our volunteers. So with them gone, we need help, we need the labor. So it’s perfect timing that we imported college students,”  La Casa de Amistad Executive Director Sam Centellas explained. 

Centellas says the students will take what they’ve learned about advocacy work in South Bend and at La Casa and infuse it into other places.

“We’ve trained them in our way of thinking that ‘No Human Being is Illegal,’ that ‘I am West Side’, our view of how we do youth programming,” said Centellas. 

The students also spent time working in the organization’s food pantry.

“I actually was part of that population that didn’t have much, and was going to pantries just like this,” Parent said while working in the food pantry.

“What really drove me to do this is because most of my family is undocumented as well, and like they have gone through many struggles like trying to put food on the table and trying to have work,” said the NIU sophomore.

“Even helping with a bag of food and kind of just unpacking it is like, you know you’re going to feed a family tonight, and it’s great to have that feeling,” Parent said. 

Last week, the organization was host to 12 students from Saginaw Valley.

La Casa de Amistad is raising money to help cover costs for the students’ meals while in town. If you wish to help, click here.

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