CHAPEL HILL – Thursday evening at the Hargraves Community Center, you’re invited to come out for the Good Neighbor Initiative’s annual Neighborhood Night Out and Block Party, an event designed to build connections between UNC students and Chapel Hill residents, particularly in neighborhoods near campus.
“We plan all year long for this program,” says Aaron Bachenheimer, UNC’s director of fraternity/sorority life and community involvement.
It’s a free event, co-sponsored by the Town of Chapel Hill, UNC-Chapel Hill, the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, Empowerment, Inc., and LUX Chapel Hill (formerly Bicycle Apartments). Buns and Ben & Jerry’s will provide food; there’ll also be music, games, kids’ activities and prizes–plus information about local and community resources.
“It’s just a great event,” says Bachenheimer. “Get there early, because (at 5:00) we actually do a fun little community pride walk…(and) folks who participate get a free t-shirt and get first place in the food line.”
The Block Party is one of the biggest projects of the year for the Good Neighbor Initiative, which works all year long to promote strong relationships between longtime Chapel Hill residents and students living off-campus–especially in neighborhoods like Northside and Pine Knolls, where the influx of students has sparked some tension.
“We visit students and non-student residents and talk about what it’s like to live in a neighborhood, what community involvement and good neighborliness means, (and) some of the rights and responsibilities of living off-campus,” Bachenheimer says. “(And the Block Party) is a really important event, in terms of helping to set the tone of what it means to have a positive community relationship.”
Bachenheimer says the initiative has been successful, though there’s still work yet to be done. “These events make a difference,” he says. “They help inspire both the year-round residents and the students to reach out to one another, to get to know one another–which ultimately helps build relationships and improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.”
The Neighborhood Night Out and Block Party runs from 5-9 pm Thursday at the Hargraves Community Center, located at 216 N. Roberson Street. Bachenheimer says it usually draws several hundred attendees every year.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/neighborhood-night-out-welcomes-students-residents/
Photo by Jennifer Lund
CHAPEL HILL – By Sunday, nearly 4,000 new faces will be settled into their new homes at UNC adding up to the total population of the University of more than 29,000 students, and the Town of Chapel Hill is once again hustling and bustling.
Executive Director of the Downtown Partnership, Meg McGurk, says local businesses and organizations are teaming together to make the transition for newcomers and their families as smooth as possible.
“We just produced a brand new downtown business guide and map that just came in last week that we’ve been distributing throughout the community,” McGurk says. “(We’re) giving it to all our visitors’ centers and all our businesses.”
That’s just one of the many things available to students and newcomers to the community.
And, she says move-in weekend doesn’t just benefit freshmen and transfer students. There are benefits for everyone returning to the Southern Part of Heaven.
“Businesses can offer discounts to students that show their ID,” McGurk says. “We’ve got the Good Neighbor Initiative kicking off next Monday where it’s a wonderful partnership that we welcome all of the students to the neighborhood throughout Downtown. We actually walk door-to-door.”
The Week of Welcome is meant to make the shock to the Town’s system a manageable one. Safety is a top priority, and McGurk says the Good Neighbor Initiative is a process to ensure that everyone in the community is taken care of.
McGurk says planning for this weekend started just as soon as the students left last year.
“Graduation weekend, when everyone leaves, we all kind of let out a sigh, and then we get right back into it,” McGurk says. “There isn’t much downtime for prepping for the next year, because that’s the cycle of our community as a college town. That’s what we do.”
And she says she this is one of her favorite times of year.
“It’s the weekend of graduation when the town kind of settles into the summer and it kind of goes back into the year-round residents kind of owning (their) own community,” McGurk says. “And then this weekend when the students come back and all of the energy and all of the vitality and all of the kind of enthusiasm of the new school year and new live just breathes back into our community, and I absolutely love it.”
For more information on the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, click here.
For more information on Week of Welcome, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/chapel-hill-welcomes-students-new-and-old/