life enrichment

Community education makes learning a life-long process

Inside the Eloise B. Houchens Center on Adams Street, Esli Pelly showed several participants Thursday how to turn trash to treasure – making window boxes out of freezer baskets, a paper towel holder out of a clothes hanger, luminaries out of coffee cans and art out of an old window.

“You can be endless with your imagination,” Pelly said. “It’s unbelievable the things you can do with what’s lying around.”

Community Education provides a unique service to Bowling Green, offering everything from computer and dance classes to an adult spelling bee and summer camps and after-school activities for children.

“We do a little bit of everything,” said Anne Grubbs, enrichment and volunteer coordinator, who has been involved in the organization for 12 years.

Community Education operates under three main components – adult enrichment, after-school and volunteerism. In addition to these components, the organization is known for its community collaborations and service learning projects.

“We try to fill a lot of gaps that are not provided by other services,” Grubbs said.

Since its inception, Community Education has grown to provide before- and after-school care for more than 1,200 school-age children and youth on school days, and for as many as 500 children during all-day programs, which are offered during school breaks.

The organization also offers a variety of activities during three terms – fall, winter and spring – which garners anywhere from 300 to 400 participants per term. The classes, which teens can take but are mostly for adults, Grubbs said, are usually held inside school buildings.

The “Trash to Treasure” class – using items that preserve history, such as milk buckets and old canning pots – was an encore class, Pelly said. The class was geared toward those who liked home and gardening projects.

“I’m always interested in gardening and watercolors,” said Kim Skipper, a participant who frequents Community Education classes.

Pam Elrod, another participant, said she takes classes once or twice a year.

“I like to get new ideas … find new things to do,” she said.

Community Education in most places is an extension of the school system, Grubbs said. But because there are two school systems here, Community Education is independent and functions with government and education agencies, she said.

“One thing that is important is we don’t try to take programming away from anyone,” Grubbs said. “We try to point people who have a need to the right service provider.”

Executive director Debi Wade Jordan said previously that the organization provides programming as cost-effectively as it can, and programs tend to be costly. She said functions, such as Spell-A-Bration – one of the organization’s fundraisers – help offset program costs.

Yet the services Community Education provides are invaluable, Pelly said. Those interested can learn to paint, do yoga, use a computer, basket weave and take a picture like professionals do – “without a lot of pressure,” Grubbs said.

“This organization gives people the opportunity to learn something new that enriches their lives,” Pelly said. “And there are so many different things to learn.”

The local organization is part of the Kentucky Community Education Association. The organization is a creative and cooperative approach to learning as a life-long process. Grubbs said Community Education is different in every community. She said the thing about community education is it adapts to the community it is in.

“It’s life enrichment,” Elrod said. “Community Education has a special place in this community.”

— For a list of Community Education offerings, see


Jordan, Natalie (2008, May). life enrichment. Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved from