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South Bend nonprofit La Casa de Amistad opens new, 41,000 square foot community center

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Jakob Lazzaro / WVPE
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For the past 35 years, La Casa de Amistad operated out of an 8,000 square foot building on South Bend’s west side. But its new home on the south side is 41,000 square feet.

The nonprofit offers legal and immigration services, adult English classes and youth and afterschool programming. And Executive Director Juan Constantino said that with the new space, they can do much more.

“There is not another comprehensive, full wraparound center that supports the Latino, Hispanic and immigrant community like La Casa de Amistad,” Constantino said. “We couldn’t be happier about today.”

One example? Expanding their youth programming from the current 35 kids to over 100.

“The kids have an entire youth wing with thousands of square feet — five separate classrooms, two different tech rooms,” Constantino said. “It’s been a long time coming — we purchased this building in August 2019 to envision an expansion. Construction started last year in September, and we’re happy to have the doors open.”

The new facility is fully ADA accessible and also includes a full-size kitchen, an art gallery for student works, a stage for performances and the nonprofit’s bilingual preschool program, which has 10 to 12 kids enrolled in both morning and afternoon sessions.

And since it’s close to the bypass, Constantino said it’s also more accessible to Latino communities in Elkhart, LaPorte and Kosciusko counties.

Constantino said next steps include finishing the building’s basement — which should be done by next spring — installing the outdoor playground and expanding more programming for Latino communities across Michiana.

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Credit Jakob Lazzaro / WVPE
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The new 41,000 square foot facility is a significant upgrade from La Casa de Amistad's old 8,000 square foot building on the west side.

About 75 people gathered in front of the new building, located at 3423 S. Michigan Street in South Bend, for the ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday.

Humberto Delgado, the nonprofit’s assistant executive director and youth coordinator said the new center is like a dream come true.

“Our dream of having a deserving space where we can serve and embrace the Latino and immigrant community is finally coming into focus,” Delgado said. “Our new home — that has a very nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”

South Bend Mayor James Mueller and sixth district Common Council member Sheila Niezgodski were also present at the ceremony.

“Today is a long day coming, and we’re so excited to be here to unveil this great new space,” Mueller said. “It is a significant upgrade from the spot over on the West Side, and we couldn't be happier with how it turned out.”

After the ribbon was cut, La Casa de Amistad staff offered guided tours of the facility to those in the audience. Free coffee and Mexican hot chocolate were available, and the Rico Suave Mexican Cuisine food truck was on site for lunch.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.