Design as Service, Messiah College

(Left to right) Kathy T. Hettinga, Francis Miller, April Nguyen


Pictured Above (Left to Right): Kathy T. Hettinga, Francis Miller, April Nguyen

Design as Service brings together talented design students, under professional art direction, with the design needs of non-profit organizations. Every non-profit organization is vitally interested in communication. Communication with funders ‒ communication with prospective clients ‒ and communication with the press and governmental leaders for their bread and butter. Words alone will not do the job; dynamic images and graphic design inspires mere onlookers to decide to become involved. Kathy T. Hettinga, Professor of Art and Design at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, is the Founder and Director of Design as Service. Over the last thirty years, she has directed students in designing for non-profit organizations on hundreds of design projects, which have received dozens of design awards, and have been published in journals and annuals.

Design as Service finds many eager and deserving clients through networking with social justice and other non-profits all over the eastern United States, recently working with international organizations. Environmental advocacy clients and social justice projects have included: Solidarity Uganda, Disability Inclusion Africa with World Vision, Kiwanis International and UNICEF, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, The Midwest Academy out of Chicago, The National Parks Conservation Association, The Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, among many others. This is a win-win situation in that the non-profit organizations receive excellent design, their constituents receive useful communication, and students learn design skills. Perhaps most enduring is that students develop a heart for working with non-profits, and relationships are built. Hettinga says: “Linking design students to the important design needs of our many non-profit clients has been the most rewarding work of my career.”


Recently a team of students in Design as Service ‒ Francis Miller, team leader, April Nguyen, and Rebecca Adam ‒ took on a multiple page publication that opens into a wall size poster for Barbara Arrindell, Director and Chief Scientist for Damascus Citizens for Sustainability. The publication, “FRAC SAND, Why Worry?” is filled with important information and facts about the dangers of Frac Sand ‒ Frac Sand is used to hold open the fractured, underground cracks made from hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells. The vivid publication describes the process and dangers from landscape devastation to groundwater contamination to lung cancer caused by silica dust. The design team aptly created info-graphics and many illustrated images including an hourglass with sand burying a home and a dairy cow. Arrindell who has distributed over 8,000 of the designed publication, “FRAC SAND, Why Worry?” has this to say, “The process of creating this piece was intense but energizing. It was inspiring to see how deeply the students reached, all contributing to the effort. The best teachers do not only give tips on techniques of design, but awaken that design awareness in the student so that it is always on call in their creative lives.”