Tammy’s Take: Volunteer Profile Series: Joseph Schorer (CARE Chicago)
This month I am pleased to share our latest volunteer profile on Joe Schorer. Joe has spent the last 17 years leading the Chicago Chapter and currently serves on CARE’s Board of Directors. He was recently recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Chicago Chapter for his efforts to advance financial literacy in the Chicagoland community.
How did you learn about CARE?
In 2002 or 2003, Ira Bodenstein, who was the US Trustee in Chicago at the time, and Bankruptcy Judge John Squires attended separate conferences at which Judge John Ninfo gave presentations about the CARE program. Judge Ninfo encouraged attendees to start the program in their cities. Judge Squires and Ira returned to Chicago, realized that they had heard the same inspirational message and agreed to spread the word throughout the bankruptcy community. One of my colleagues in the restructuring department at Kirkland & Ellis (David Seligman) heard about the program from Judge Squires and Ira and encouraged those of us in the department to get involved. I started asking questions and soon started giving presentations.
What do you remember about your first volunteer experience?
What I remember about the first volunteer experience was that I felt really unprepared. At that time I had little experience in consumer financial issues, although I had a huge amount of experience in bankruptcy, courtroom work, debtor-creditor issues, and similar matters. Fortunately, with me at that first presentation was Michael Eidelman from Vedder Price. Michael had already done some CARE presentations, and so I spent most of my time watching him as he talked with the students. I quickly realized that my training as a lawyer and my own life experience provided a wealth of resources about consumer financial literacy that I could share with high school students.
What question do you hear the most in the classroom?
These days the questions I get most relate to aspects of student loans. Students are particularly interested in finding websites that will guide them to college scholarships.
What is your most memorable moment or favorite story of being a volunteer?
Gene Volchek, a senior vice president from TransUnion, partnered with me at his first CARE presentation. Gene is a numbers guy with his own really compelling story as an immigrant from a former Soviet bloc country. One of the topics on which we spoke was the importance of your credit score. Gene told the class (and me) that the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia had studied credit scores using massive amounts of data and complicated algorithms. As a result of this study, the Federal Reserve Bank determined that, if you and your significant other have credit scores that are more than 69 points apart, your relationship will fall apart. The students in the class were blown away, and some of the guys and ladies in the class started looking at each other nervously. Here’s a link to the Federal Reserve Bank study, entitled “Credit Scores and Committed Relationships”: https://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/feds/2015/files/2015081pap.pdf And here is a link to a Chicago Tribune article on the study: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sc-credit-score-relationship-family-1220-20170120-story.html
Why do you continue to volunteer for CARE?
Especially at big law firms, lawyers don’t get a lot of opportunities to make a difference at a really personal level. Our work is important, but many times we are representing large corporations dealing with institutional money. It also can be difficult to feel that you are making the world a better place. In the CARE program, I feel I have the chance to do a POSITIVE GOOD at a very personal level.
What do you want potential volunteers to know about CARE?
It’s easy to do a CARE presentation. Not only will you share your life experience with others who need it; you will learn a lot along the way. Giving back is infinitely rewarding. As the late Senator John McCain said, “Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.”
About the Author
Tammy Hettinger serves as the CARE Executive Director. Her monthly series highlights several topics of financial education and news around CARE, such as the above volunteer profile. She lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, two kids, and family cat.