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Angels Nest Visits UCLA to Learn More About Innovative Program for Students

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

(July 18, 2019) Angels Nest Board Member Paul Freese asking UCLA students about food insecurity and how they access resources available to them.

On July 18th, 2019, Angels Nest Board Members, Paul Freese and Georgette Todd, visited UCLA's 580 Cafe to learn more about how this program helps marginalized students.

580 Cafe is located off-campus, across the street from UCLA and according to students at the site visit, this locale is part of its appeal.

"This cafe doesn't have an institutional, cold office feel to it. It's warm and inviting. That helps," one UCLA student stated.

While the 580 Cafe sits in the same building as the St. Alban's Church, Executive Director/Campus Minister Jeanne Smith wants to make it clear that everyone is welcomed. "We are open to all students and we want to create a space where anyone feels comfortable to come to a place where they can grab something to eat, network, and get emotional support from us and their peers. But we don't force relationships or anything on students...that has to come from them, organically."

When students were asked what draws them to 580 Cafe, the responses ranged from finding it difficult to adjust to the campus culture due to being a FirstGen, a first generation student, to looking for a space with peers who shared some of the same challenges, such as not having someone to talk to or having food insecurity.

"I like the energy here [at 580 Cafe]," one student said. "The people, the vibe...they don't make you feel like you're unworthy, like you don't belong."

Another UCLA student agreed. "You need a break in-between classes, after classes and work. You need a place to recharge and this place is it for me. They also help you navigate emotionally, but on your own terms, and they offer meditation and yoga. It's nice."

On behalf of Angels Nest, Paul was excited to tour 580 Cafe's remarkable model for engaging and supporting students with little or no safety net at UCLA. He had this to say about the site visit: "It was simply enriching to engage together with the impressive staff and students. [The cafe] has created a remarkable hospitality center to promote the beloved community movement."

Georgette shared Paul's sentiment. "It was a real honor to hear from students directly. As a board member, I was particularly interested in how students found out about the cafe, what specifically appeals to them, and what keeps them connected. They gave us a perspective we can't get anywhere else and it's on us, as members, to take in those perspectives as we rebuild our own program."

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