A Flower in the Garden of Coolness

Our region offers many opportunities to help people succeed in their professional and personal lives. But it also provides programs to help young people learn to succeed in our global economy long before they have to take responsibility for their own finances and careers.

Junior Achievement is one of those opportunities. Its sole purpose is to educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise and understand business and economics to improve the quality of their lives. And in today’s economy, where home foreclosures and market crashes are a regular part of the daily news, it is more important than ever to ensure our young people are financially literate and able to make the correct economic choices.

Today’s blog post is from Junior Achievement Volunteer Whitney Bishop, the Executive Director of Southern Indiana Asset Building Coalition. Whitney gives a first person account of the benefits of a program such as Junior Achievement, both for the participants and the volunteers. Thank you to Kentuckiana Junior Achievement for sharing this blog post with kix.com.

A Flower in the Garden of Coolness

It was my last day at Floyd County High School as a JA volunteer, having delivered 7 weeks of the Success Skills program to a group of 30+ young men and women. As is my custom, I brought snacks and treats as a thank you for their attention, their wisdom and their hospitality. What I didn’t expect was the armload of hand written thank-you notes from the students.

Back at my office I carefully read each one of them and was moved to tears. Each of them were comical, touching, thoughtful and earnest. A particular favorite of mine now adorns my office wall to remind me of why I love being a JA volunteer.

“Dear Ms. Whitney, You are good at teaching. Thank you for volunteering your time to teach us about success skills. You are a pretty fly woman. Fly means cool. You are a flower in the garden ofcoolness.”

Junior Achievement provides support to the schools and to parents by bringing in area professionals in to deliver valuable lessons in the economics of life and those life skills necessary to be a success in the classroom, in the workplace and in the community.

Most of these students work part-time jobs in addition to their academic requirements and extra-curricular activities. Providing them with the support and information they need to manage their earnings responsibly and equipping them with essential life skills, such as those in the success skills program is a great privilege. Engaging them in lively discussions, role-play situations, interactive games and small group work around topics such as listening, cooperation, collaboration, conflict resolution and basic interviewing skills often gives me a lesson or two in creative problem solving. Our students are bright and eager to discover things about themselves. Programs like Real Jobs, Real World and Success Skills provides them with thought provoking self-assessments and access to professionals, allowing them to question themselves and others about various careers and experiences.

Whenever I need a lift, I look at the note on my wall and remember that I am a flower in the garden of coolness. I remember that my time and attention made a difference to these students, each in a different way. I remember that I am blessed beyond measure to really see and appreciate these students for the inquisitive, thoughtful and enterprising young people they are. I remember that I am grateful and proud to be a Junior Achievement volunteer. Get in the garden of coolness with me, won’t you? There’s plenty of room to grow!

CLICK HERE to learn more about Southern Indiana Asset Building Coalition.

Interested in getting involved with Junior Achievement? CLICK HERE to learn more about volunteer opportunities and available Junior Achievement programs in your area!

With programs taught by volunteers from the business community in the region and area schoolteachers, Junior Achievement serves 44,000 students throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Its programs utilize classroom time, after-school classes and even the opportunity for hands on lessons at the Sam Swope Junior Achievement BizTown and Chase Finance Park. Junior Achievement Volunteers come from all over our region and include active and retired business professionals, college students, parents and teachers. Volunteers not only share valuable information during the lessons, but they act as role models and help students to find their own ways to succeed.

Junior Achievement has been in our region for more than 60 years, and it only continues to grow toward its mission to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Its programs currently serve the 26 counties of our region. The programs are designed to reach every student in those counties no less than four times during their time in the school system. With the need for financial literacy growing each day, this program is helping put the students of our region ahead of the curve.

Junior Achievement is only one of many programs in our region that helps ensure a pathway to success. What is one of your favorite non-profits organizations in your community? Share it with us here and help others to benefit from all of the services available in our region of caring.