Organizations: Junior Achievement
Volunteer Service: Since 2010
How did first you get involved with this organization?
I enjoy working with kids and giving them the opportunity to learn. One day, a colleague asked me if I would join them in teaching a Junior Achievement (JA) financial education curriculum at a local school. The opportunity was very rewarding and I continued to teach JA classes whenever I could. In 2015, I expanded my involvement by joining their board.
In which ways do you volunteer with them?
In addition to attending board meetings and assisting at fundraising events, I teach between 4-7 JA classes each year. I like to volunteer in low- to moderate-income schools that can most benefit from an outside mentor.
What do you find to be the most rewarding part about volunteering?
It’s rewarding to know that I’m making a difference in students’ lives and serving as a positive role model. You don’t always realize how much they enjoy your presence until you’re leaving the last class and every student wants to hug you or when they remember you when you later run into them outside of school. I just hope that what I teach them in classroom resonates with them for generations to come and helps them make good financial decisions.
Can you share a memorable experience from your volunteerism?
Over the years I have received so many thank you notes, hugs and unique mementos that show me the students care and want a mentor in their lives. One class even created a poster which I’ve had hanging in my office ever since. Reading through the letters and reflecting on my experience reminds me of the value of providing an hour or two of my time each week to educate kids is priceless!
What things have you learned about your community through your involvement?
The students are always hungry for knowledge and appreciate additional mentors from outside the school that can give them another perspective or a goal(s) for the future. I incorporate real life examples into my lessons to help them connect with things familiar to them and welcome any questions they have.
I’ve also found it to be a great opportunity to help educate them more about what banks do and learn more about careers in banking—something they usually do not think about prior to our lessons.
What advice would you give other colleagues interested in volunteering?
Teaching for JA is a great opportunity to improve your presentation skills and lessen any fear of speaking in front of people because students are not judgmental. If you still have a fear of volunteering alone, I recommend asking another colleague to teach the lessons with you. It’s an excellent way to be involved in the community, and the commitment is only 5-6 sessions. I encourage others to find what you are passionate about when getting involved as this will drive your desire to continue and make a difference.