Built in the 1900s, the entire South Bend block of 500 Western Avenue was at one time the hub of business, social and spiritual activity. Recently renovated and historically restored, Monroe Circle Community Center (MC3) has quickly become the cornerstone for renewal in this neighborhood.
Our goal? That everyone living in Downtown South Bend and Near West Side will know their value and take steps toward a full and meaningful life. We seek community revival by standing on the front lines of food insecurity, resulting in strong family units, decreased crime rates and deeper understanding of their personal value in Christ. As a whole, our vision is that South Bend be transformed into a vibrant community that cares for, dignifies, equips and guides each other. We want to empower the community so that it is self-initiating, taking ownership and leadership of its continued transformation.
The journey to MC3 started in 2001 when two volunteers from Granger Community Church (GCC) were given permission to mentor children living in the Monroe Circle public housing neighborhood. That program was known as Son City Kids. In 2004, the director of the Ko-Op 65 food pantry asked GCC to help provide food for their pantry next door. Volunteers began helping with providing food and other small rehab jobs that the building desperately needed. In December of that year, Ko-Op 65 offered to sell the pantry to GCC for one dollar. In January 2005, GCC took over the pantry and began the effort to acquire all three adjoining buildings. Through donated funds, labor, gifts “in kind,” and other community and business partnerships, MC3 was renovated and historically restored in 2007.
Each Tuesday and Thursday morning, guests are invited to stop by the Open Café between 9 a.m.-12 p.m. While there, guests enjoy free coffee, Internet access and church services or music playing in the background. This is a great time to gather as a community, catch up with old friends, meet new ones and learn about MC3’s programs.
At the Food Pantry, neighbors can select their own items and receive fresh and frozen foods to help offset potential financial challenges each month. Neighbors are encouraged to enjoy the café atmosphere where they can connect with friends, pray with people who care, be served by pleasant volunteers and receive food. Volunteers are encouraged to take part in this highly-relational ministry.
Want to know how to manage your money so that your money will last? MC3 offers Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to help participants learn how to better manage their finances. In partnership with First Federal Savings Bank, volunteers lead participants through the material. Classes are held in the fall.