Junior Achievement (JA), an organization committed to teaching students from kindergarten through high school about financial topics, has come to hold a special place in our hearts. Recently, Amber Santos and Tom Schmidt from our La Jolla office, as well as Darla Clark from our downtown San Diego office, visited JA’s BizTown (the only BizTown facility in California!) to help San Diego elementary school students operate banks, manage restaurants, write checks and vote for mayor.
The goal of the program is to help kids connect the concept of dealing with the financial responsibilities of adulthood to the reality. Rene Wisch and Lisa Johns from our Vancouver, Washington office also volunteered with BizTown through Junior Achievement of Washington. Khellie Van and Devin Jackson have volunteered through Junior Achievement’s classroom programs in Washington.
Junior Achievement offers dozens of different kinds of programs and many ways to volunteer. Kim Poole and Bill Scheffel from our Escondido office presented about the finances of cities to third grade students at Joli Ann Leichtag Elementary School in Vista, for example. They covered topics like taxes, revenue, banking, small businesses, municipalities and how all of these parts work together. Their coworkers, Cindy Thomas, Erin Brosch and Taryn Diehl (as well as Bill Scheffel) also volunteered in a classroom at Willow Grove Elementary in Poway.
The JA programs focus primarily on work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Most schools don’t dedicate much or any curriculum time to these topics. Since students at low-income schools may have even less opportunity for financial education, Junior Achievement focuses primarily on these schools, though not exclusively.
Amber, who worked with fifth graders at BizTown said, “They worked hard, and their excitement was contagious.” She hopes to volunteer again.
For BizTown, the fifth graders have had in-class sessions with volunteers before they attend so that they’re prepared. “Prior to the day, they get some education from Junior Achievement presentations from kindergarten on,” says Tom. “BizTown is the reward for all that instruction.” The students and the volunteers also receive instruction booklets when they arrive at BizTown.
Tom, who has volunteered with Junior Achievement for many years and in several capacities, including instructing the personal finance curriculum to high schoolers through Junior Achievement’s in-class program, says he continues to enjoy giving back to the kids. “It’s a win-win. I like working with kids, and it amazes me what some kids know and do. Some get so involved during BizTown that they don’t even want to go on break.”
Amber concurred, adding, “They were really responsible and took the experience very seriously.”
Darla helped run the San Diego Union Tribune shop at BizTown with students from San Diego’s Jamacha neighborhood. Four of the kids published a newspaper, which included photos, an editorial article, an interview with the Mayor and articles about two of the businesses in Biz Town.
“It was a very busy and fun experience,” said Darla, who was impressed by the kids in her shop, saying they “were smart and did the work.”
It’s easy to be a Junior Achievement volunteer. “Junior Achievement gives you all the materials in a packet, as well as all the lessons and video tutorials for classroom sessions,” said, Kim. “They walk you through it completely.”
Kim was hooked after her first classroom experience volunteering for Junior Achievement. “I realized I have all the tools available to help teach these kids. They need to go out in the world with the financial strength to make the decisions they need to make and to understand them.” In addition to that, she says, “And it’s so much fun!”
“I was nervous!” Lisa readily admits feeling before her classroom teaching assignment through Junior Achievement. But, she says, “JA really prepares you for the classes. They have great training materials and it only takes about 20 minutes to read through them.” Lisa taught a third grade class about city planning. The class met for 45 minutes once a week for five weeks.
One night, after the program had ended, Lisa experienced something that confirmed the impact volunteering can have. She was at a restaurant with her family when she passed by a table where two young girls were having dinner with their mother. One of the girls looked up at Lisa, smiled and said, “Hi!” Lisa immediately recognized her as one of her students from her JA class.
Lisa stopped to talk to her. Her mother asked who she was, and the young girl eagerly answered, “She is the Junior Achievement teacher!” Lisa felt so good that the student remembered her. “This made me realize how important volunteering is, and how much of an impact you can have in a child’s life.”
To volunteer with Junior Achievement, contact your local chapter.
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Thanks to the leadership of our team captain, Erin Brosch, and our team members, Stephen Friedman, Cecilia Wittmann, Darla Clark, Claudia Sanchez, Kim Poole, Norma Soto, Taryn Diehl, Alice Tiongco and Amber Santos…as well as their friends and family, Regents Rovers raised more than $4,000 for the San Diego Humane Society. Along with their pets, our team made the two-mile Walk For Animals at NTC Park at Liberty Station on May 7 to support the Humane Society and its transition within the last year to a no-kill policy.
In total, Regents Rovers had 26 team members, a remarkable increase from our team of three in 2015. We also raised more than eight times the money as last year.
Despite the drizzly day, pets and pet lovers showed up in force, and it wasn’t just dogs strutting their stuff. Cats, a goat, a pony and an iguana joined their canine compatriots, which included a dog riding a mini moped.
“I love this walk, because pets are a commonality between people – everyone loves their pet in the same way, no matter who they are or what they do,” said Erin. “Also, like pets, this entire event is very therapeutic; it’s easy to celebrate this cause.”
In total, the event raised well over $40,000 and counting. If you want to support the Humane Society, you can still donate through a Walk for Animals participant or directly to the Humane Society. The money raised provides food, medical care and a safe haven for thousands of animals in need. This year, the San Diego Humane Society expects to save the lives of more than 30,000 animals. It is one of just a small handful of Humane Society organizations in the U.S. with a no-kill policy.
“Not only are the animals protected at the San Diego Humane Society, they also have nice accommodations, with glass enclosures instead of cages, and amenities like beds and toys,” Erin added.
Thank you to everyone who walked and who contributed to our team’s efforts to raise money and help San Diego’s animals. Want to join our team next year? Erin says we’re “absolutely” doing it again! Aye aye, captain.
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Our 2015 Salvation Army Angel Giving Tree gift drive was a huge success, and we’d like to thank everyone who contributed. Our San Diego offices, located in Downtown, La Jolla, Vista and Escondido, welcomed clients, friends and family to join our efforts to bring a brighter Christmas to families in need.
Our Vista and Escondido offices collected toys for specific requests from children, while our La Jolla and Downtown offices focused on a list of items the Salvation Army hoped to receive to complete family gift packages.
The response was tremendous, and we were able to collect approximately 100 gifts and several bins of food. In addition, we were blown away when one of our clients at our Escondido office (you know who you are!) wrote a $1,000 check toward the Salvation Army’s Angel Giving Tree program.
To further support the Salvation Army, several of our staffers spent time as bell ringers during the holiday season. Our president, Steve Sefton (also a Metropolitan Board Member for the Salvation Army), rang the Salvation Army bell to drum up donations for the red kettle at Fashion Valley Mall. Several of our Escondido branch staff, Kim Poole, Taryn Diehl (with her family), Mike Churchwell and Norma Soto, rang the bell at Major Market in Escondido.
The holiday spirit of giving is magical as it brightens the lives of both the giver and the receiver. We feel so lucky to be in the company of so many generous people and to have had the chance to make Christmas special for many San Diego families in need.
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