Designing With an Eye for Service Students Work Free for Non-profits

This past year, Helpline, a social service agency in Walla Walla, Wash., received a new promotional look thanks to a new graphic design club at Walla Walla College (WWC). Students organized the club, named Design In Style Today Always (DISTA), so they could gain real-world design experience. Members provide free graphic design services to non-profit organizations. The club maintains a list of job requests that students refer to, taking jobs when they have time.

“The team at Helpline just can’t stop saying enough good things about WWC students and especially the design club. They’ve been a huge blessing to us,” says John Cress, Helpline’s board chair and Walla Walla College Church associate pastor. The club is working on plans for Helpline’s first Web site.

“Nothing compares to working on real projects,” says Linda Nelson, technology department chair and club advisor. “The skills and techniques that are gained in the classroom, when applied to a real project, become all the more clearly understood.”

Through this volunteer work, students have developed contacts leading to design jobs and cooperative education work. “This experience enhances their professionalism with client and customer service. The print and Web pieces they produce dramatically improve their portfolio. They have a real opportunity to give back some of what God has given them,” says Nelson.

The club has also organized tours to the design wing at Nike world headquarters in Oregon and to Coffey Communications in Walla Walla. Future tours are planned to Color Press and MCM Design Studio, both in Walla Walla, and another trip to Nike is in the works. Through these tours, Nelson says, “the students get to experience the environment of a ‘real’ designer.”

Future club goals include bringing in more design work and turning the graphic design lab into a more creative environment by improving lighting and painting the walls.

For more information, contact the WWC technology department at (509) 527-2712 or visit

November 01, 2003 / Walla Walla University