Arbutus businesses reach out to UMBC's incoming freshmen

The Arbutus Business and Professional Association spent Saturday morning making a sales pitch to one of the community's most valuable resources: students at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Again this year, ABPA had a table at the campus' "Retriever Fest" — a group of tables representing student groups and campus organizations set up outside the campus bookstore as part of orientation week on the campus.

From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 24, members of the group distributed reusable grocery bags full of goodies for new students to help raise awareness of what the surrounding community has to offer.

"One of the things that UMBC has trouble with, is that the kids up there say they have nothing to do, they have nowhere to go," said former ABPA president Patti Sue Nolan.

"We started gathering stuff from our businesses," she said. "Business cards and specials, sometimes the movie theater will put their schedule of movies in there for the next week or two.

"Just to give the kids an idea of what's going on in Arbutus," she said. "It's just a good idea to get the students comfortable with Arbutus and get them to come down and know what's there."

APBA members Bettina Tebo, owner of Abbey Bail Bonds, and Jean Rigg, personal banker at Northwest Savings Bank, staffed the ABPA table at the annual event, handing out bags and sharing maps of the area with incoming families.

"It's just a way to make the students aware of the small community feel that Arbutus has to offer," Tebo said. "It's definitely helps extend the welcoming hand."

Less than two hours into the event, Tebo and Rigg had already given away more than 100 of the 250 bags they brought, and students and parents could be seen toting the red bags throughout The Commons building and around campus.

UMBC alumnus Jenny Katz was at the event Saturday, helping her parents get her 18-year-old brother, freshman Nathan Katz, settled in.

She said that, in her four years at UMBC, she frequently visited Arbutus restaurants with her friends, provided they could find a ride from someone.

"I lived on campus all four years," the 22-year-old Silver Spring resident said. "When we did [have a ride], Arbutus was so close so we went over for food.

"We went to Sorrento's a lot," she said. "They have really good pizza."

Her brother, also a Silver Spring resident, said he was appreciative of everything the ABPA provided in the goody bag, including bookmarks, coupons, restaurant menus and a free cup, and said he plans to make a trip to Arbutus soon.

"It feels very welcoming and makes me feel like part of the community," Nathan Katz said.

Courtney Holland was also among those at the event. The recent transfer student from the Community College of Baltimore County Essex campus said the wealth of information available was appreciated.

"It feels good," the 20-year-old White Marsh resident said. "I'm excited to start school now, but before I was really nervous.

"I think it's helpful [to have the Retriever Fest] because I don't really know anyone who goes here," she said.

In addition to students, parents could also be seen sorting the bags Saturday. Sam Mookkung and his wife, Tu Mookkung, were doing just that while they waited for their son, 17-year-old Bob Mookkung, to return to the bookstore from his dorm.

As a Silver Spring resident, Sam Mookkung said it was good for the ABPA to have a table there in order to introduce students to the surrounding community as well as to the campus.

"I think the community is very, very welcoming," he said. "It's very convenient [to get to Arbutus] and everybody is very friendly

"It's pretty great," he said. "It feels very right at home. That's what we need to see around here."

Nolan said that response is what keeps the ABPA coming back to campus each year.

"It's a huge growth point up there," she said. "There's students and staff and workers, it's huge. We just try to capitalize [on that].

"It's just to expand the customer base," Nolan said. "If you can bring the kids down and they go to Sorrento's for a pizza, that's better for Sorrento's."


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