February 19, 2019
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Evansville Newcomers

New residents discuss their decision to come to Evansville
Evansville newcomers Dr. Snesha Modi, Rabbi Gary Mazo, and husband and wife Candace and Ross Chapman gather on Main Street.

You could say Evansville is the “Goldilocks” city — not too big, not too small. That’s what attracts many newcomers to our Hoosier community.

For Dr. Snesha Modi, Evansville was just what her family was looking for. The internist at Deaconess Hospital lived in Chicago and Tampa before settling down here. She and her husband loved the Midwest feel but didn’t want to live in another big city.

“It’s not too big and not too small,” says Dr. Modi. “It’s just the right size to raise our family and be able to work, so we came here.”

The Modi family is of Indian origin and found an unexpected Indian community to call home in the River City.

“For the size of town it is, we were quite surprised to find such a robust community,” says Dr. Modi. “We had heard about it before we moved here, but when we got here, people were very warm and welcoming, and within eight months we knew a lot of people.”

Ross and Candace Chapman are impressed by Evansville’s growing Downtown community. They moved back to Evansville after they left to attend college.

“We’re rebounders,” says Ross.

They heard the term at a Downtown Master Plan community meeting when they first moved back. The gathering was for citizens to listen to innovative plans for reshaping Evansville’s Downtown area.

“During the presentation, the consultants called millennials who leave and come back rebounders,” says Ross. “We were like, ‘Oh, we have definition. We know who we are now.’”

The Evansville they left wasn’t quite the same when they returned, though.

“We were keeping track,” says Candace. “A quality, local, cool restaurant opened every month the first six months we were here.”

“And there were five coffee shops that opened last year,” adds Ross.

Work and family brought the couple back to Evansville. Ross works with church congregations to collectively address and provide for the needs of the city, ultimately making it a more desirable place to live.

“The question is, how do churches work together for the good of the city?” he says. “And that’s a really undefined job description.”

That willingness to collaborate for the betterment of the city is one of the qualities that attracted Rabbi Gary Mazo to Evansville when he conducted a national search for a new job in 2013.

“It really looked like a community that was looking to come together and do great things,” says Mazo. “It was just a real nice feeling and a very different feeling than some of the different places I had interviewed.”

Mazo is the rabbi at Temple Adath B’nai Israel where he continually is looking for new ways to reach out to the community and millennials. He helped start One God, One Community with First Presbyterian Church and the Islamic Society of Evansville to create a more unified religious community.

“We started this Jewish, Christian, Muslim collaboration so we could teach our members that we are all part of this Abrahamic tradition, about each other’s faith, and get to know each other,” says Mazo. “I couldn’t do that anywhere; Evansville is special. There’s that openness to be able to do that.”

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