WKU students’ personal experiences lead to projects benefiting community

Written by: Aurelia Spaulding

Twenty-seven projects, 17 community partners, five classes, and 123 students are utilizing the five principles of service-learning to answer a central question: “with this $100 bill, what can I do to enhance someone’s quality of life?”

The WKU ALIVE Center for Community Partnerships coordinates The $100 Solution™ program at WKU as a way for students at the university, Warren Central High School, and Bowling Green High School to apply their academic interests and course objectives by addressing needs in the community. Through the program, students meet with community partners, identify needs, and then address the issue by using only $100. In addition, each group of students is charged with ensuring the project enacts a sustainable solution.

The idea of enhancing quality of life through these projects offered many of the students an opportunity to reflect on ways to support causes important to them.  Olivia Dorris’ group developed a project working with New Beginnings Therapeutic Riding, a nonprofit dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities by using the power of horses. “I had a cousin who went through a traumatic brain injury and went through a program just like this, with horses, and it really helped him out a lot. He is getting better to this day,” Dorris said.

The group is working with New Beginnings to increase their volunteer recruitment with students.  In addition, the students are learning about New Beginnings’ volunteer needs by volunteering in different areas within the facility. According to Volunteer Director Jeanne Cline, volunteers are very important to New Beginnings’ programs: “We always need help with what’s going on, and this is a big help with what the students have done.”

Micah McClendon, Natalie Gilliam, Jacob Soler, Justin Eckerd, and Kelsey Eposito-Wilcox have worked with the Buddy House for Down Syndrome to recruit volunteers as well as design and decorate the educational room for the individuals they serve. “We decided to do a project on the Buddy House because we saw an opportunity for a lot of needs to be met using our $100,” Gilliam said. “Because the Buddy House is funded all on donations, we knew they would really be able to use our help in getting the house open by March 21st. We also chose to work on this project because of the people we were helping.” The Buddy House and New Beginnings groups encourage anyone interested to stop by the organizations to learn more about volunteering.

Of the 27 projects, other community partners include Warren Central High School, the Humane Society, Community Threads Weaving Cooperative, New Life Church, Bowling Green High School, CEDARS, and HOTEL INC.

“We’ve learned a lot working on this project. For one, it’s been incredible to see how far you can stretch $100 and the difference you can make with such a small amount,” Soler said.

For more information about The $100 Solution™ at WKU, visit www.wku.edu/alive/the100dollarsolution.

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