In most houses, DIY, or “do-it-yourself,” means hanging drywall or installing a dishwasher. At Nebraska Wesleyan University’s two new student theme houses, DIY refers to entirely different kinds of improvement projects.
Students submitted proposals for the opportunity to live together in one of two university-owned houses adjacent to campus. House residents live and work together on their proposed yearlong service projects. The social impact of these projects is akin to the adopted philanthropies of each of Nebraska Wesleyan’s fraternities and sororities.
This year, 4844 Saint Paul Avenue is NWU’s “Green House,” and 5204 Madison is its “Dream House.”
Green House residents are exploring environmental issues and sustainable living. Their ideas extend well beyond light bulbs and sorted cans. “We know how to recycle, we know not to litter, and to turn off the faucet while we brush our teeth,” said Green House chair Brandon Schlautman, a junior from Lincoln. “Our definition of green living [goes beyond] the easy fixes; it takes into account far more than what we do with our trash.” He added, “It’s more about living a lifestyle characterized by good choices and actions.”
Dream House residents are focusing their efforts on fostering children’s resiliency in education. “We’re living our dream of attending college and we want elementary school students to know that it can be a dream come true for them as well,” said junior Janae Riha.
Socioeconomic factors and countless other elements affect high school graduation and college entrance rates. Statistically, the deck appears stacked against low income and minority children, making exposure to positive examples and success stories all the more important. Grand Island junior and Dream House chair Kelli Raile said, “We want to go into the schools and talk to students about having dreams and never giving up."