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City College at MSU Billings students use auto painting skills to help Special K Ranch

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Posted at 2:39 PM, Dec 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-09 16:39:43-05

It was a special night for Special K Ranch on Friday, when it received back their repainted van.

The City College at MSU Billings gift inspired the residents and the students.

For those in the auto body class, it's a chance to learn about the industry as well as helping others and giving back.

The students presented the repainted van back to the Special K Ranch.

"Van is so cool," said Stephanie Morelli, a Special K resident. "And I see stickers and that stuff."

"I really like it," said David Teeling, Special K resident. "They did a good job."

"I always enjoy the the big reveal," said Steven Wodrich, auto body instuctor at City College. "I like to see that initial look on their faces the happiness and the shock."

Wodrich has his classes take on these types of projects each semester and for him, it's more than training students for jobs.

"I like to show my students that not only can they make good living doing this, but they can use those skills to help those who are in need," Wodrich said.

"It's gonna feel more like we did something for somebody instead of just for a grade," said Kaden Roberts, City Colllege auto body student. "So it feels more connective."

"It was very good life experience just working together and solving problems together," said Jordan Bartholomew, City College auto body student.

The Special K Ranch's mission is "Providing family-oriented Christian homes, on a working ranch for adults who have developmental disabilities."

"They really appreciate that people do this kind of stuff for them all the time," said Marvin Schieldt, Special K program director. "And they like to give back. That's why they put so much effort into the flowers and the things that we do out there a Special K."

Several businesses donated to the project that Wodrich estimates might cost $10,000 to $15,000 at an auto body shop.

The names of those who helped are printed on the back of the van:

  • MSU Billings City College
  • Wildfire Auto Body
  • Vynyl Monkeys
  • Hail Team 6
  • UPol
  • Denny Menholt Chevrolet
  • Capital Glass
  • Mars of Billings

The initial proposal was to just paint the van, but Wodrich wanted to do more.
"We wanted to make sure it was something that they could enjoy advertise with, and people could see and be impressed with," Wodrich said.

"It means a lot," said Ben Lindebaum, Special K resident. "I guess I could say it's like a good sign that maybe our place is special."

"I like to sit up front for church," said Bob Larsen, Special K resident. "We go to church together. It's a family."

"Feels good," said Bartholomew. "It's just kind of a nice experience."

"Good it will go for a good cause," Roberts said. "So I'm glad that we did it."

"It makes me really proud of the work that my students put into it," Wodrich said. "Makes me happy that they are taking a sense of pride in their work."

"They get blessed by these kinds of gifts and they need to learn to give themselves and find ways to do some things for others," Schiedt said about ranch residents. "And we do that at Special K. We look for ways to go out and help others in ways that we can."

Wodrich and the students say the class has prepared them for jobs at auto body shops.