Rosemarie Preiner’s Big Idea

Feb 15th, 1994 | By | Category: 5-4: Education, Tribal College News
By Jennifer Gray Reddish

Fond du Lac Community College I student Rosemarie Preiner came up with the “Big Idea” to place col­lege students in need of low-income housing with host families.

Preiner’s proposal was one of sixteen winners selected from a pool of one hundred applicants in a grant competition sponsored by the Jostens Foundation, and designed by the Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL). Called the “Big Idea Grant” it gives col­lege students the chance to propose and develop individual community-based projects.

Preiner and the Volunteer Information Program (VIP) at Fond du Lac College recog­nized that many tribal college students need affordable housing, and fashioned a simple solu­tion—placement with a host family. Her idea is now being put to the test.

The process is simple. Students in need of hous­ing fill-out a questionnaire that asks about their back­ground and personal tastes. The information is then given to Lutheran Social Services, who makes the final match with a home-owner.

During this process, Preiner, who co-directs the program, and VIP workers, act as “advo­cates” for the students during the placement process. Part of this job requires the advocate to accompany a student dur­ing the placement inter­view with a Lutheran Social Service worker to help the student answer questions.

There is a 30-day trial period after a student is placed with a family. If things do not work out, a counselor may intervene, or the student may move.

The new program promises to benefit the college by offering housing to students from outside the community. Students from other reservations may now attend the col­lege through the new host family program, diversify­ing the Fond du Lac com­munity on and off campus.

Initially, the Volunteer Information Program and Lutheran Social Services wanted to place students with elderly residents in the surrounding Carlton County area. However, student placement has expanded to other fami­lies in the areas to meet the needs of the student and the house-owner. For instance, a single-parent may charge lower-rent in exchange for baby-sitting.

Recently, the VIP office has begun the process of including reservation fam­ilies interested in having a student border.

As Jerry Thayer, Jostens college sales repre­sentative notes, “The Big Idea is designed with the needs and limitations of students in mind…. Jostens partnered with COOL to support and encourage smaller projects that serve individual cam­pus communities.”

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