Haley Miller had never built a bookcase or painted a room.

Until now.

Miller, a senior at Western Kentucky University who is majoring in corporate and organizational communication, is working with four WKU students to make improvements to the Hope House as part of The $100 Solution service learning program, headed by the WKU Alive Center. The students do a service project using $100 to make a sustainable difference in the community.

“The classrooms are just white walls,” Miller said. “We just want to give them some life.”

Miller said Hope House administrator Nathan Mattingly is going to teach the students how to build the bookcase and paint the classrooms. They bought lumber for the project at Lowe’s, she said.

The Hope House, 112 W. 10th Ave., is a nonprofit organization supported by area churches, businesses and individuals. The ministry aims “to alleviate physical and spiritual poverty through gospel restoration,” according to the Hope House website, using Bible-based teaching to improve all aspects of life.

One of its activities is a backpack food program for students.

Miller said the students initially wanted to help with the backpack program, but found out that program was well advanced.

“We asked Nathan what else we can do to help,” Miller said.

Students working on the community service project include Miller of Edmonson County, Shirelle Williams, communications studies senior, Jeffersonville, Ind.; Krystal Onyekwuluje, corporate and organizational communication sophomore, Bowling Green; Brian Harris, corporate and organizational communication senior, Russellville; and Dillon Sidebottom, communication and religious studies senior, Louisville.

The students are in Jennifer Mize Smith’s small group communications class at WKU. Ten groups of students are going into the community to help organizations, a total of 48 students.

“We are trying to teach them how to communicate and work in small groups,” Mize Smith said. “The students are tackling real problems in a real environment.” For-profit corporations look for the skill of working in groups when they review job candidates, the associate professor said. 

“The $100 Solution allows the student to go full circle, really interacting with the people who will benefit from their project,” she said. “We are trying to mold some well-rounded individuals who are going to be good citizens.”

The work can make a difference, one student participant said.

“You never know when you help someone, how much that help impacts on their life – it could be a life-changer,” Williams said. She believes in service above self and is a member of the Gamma Sigma Sigma national service sorority.

“We try to give back to the community,” Williams said. She volunteers at The Salvation Army and the Center for Courageous Kids in Allen County.

The $100 Solution uses course learning objectives combined with principles of service learning to answer a central question for students: With this $100 bill, what can I do to enhance quality of life for others? 

The goal is to teach students to ask what they can do and demonstrates that many social problems can be solved with small amounts of money or by thinking beyond monetary solutions, the website noted.

As part of their learning experience, the students will attend Hope House’s lifestyle class.

“It’s a blessing to have the Hope House and that we try to help our community get financially stable,” Mattingly said in a release.

— For more information on The $100 Solution, visit www.wku.edu/alive/the100dollarsolution.

— Follow education reporter Chuck Mason on Twitter at twitter.com/bgdnschools or visit bgdailynews.com.

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