Tammy’s Take: Volunteer Profile Series: Hon. Mildred Caban (CARE Puerto Rico)
This month in Tammy’s Take, I continue my volunteer profile series by interviewing one of CARE’s Advisory Board Members: Hon. Mildred Caban (District of Puerto Rico). Last fall I had the opportunity to sit down with Judge Caban, who is also the CARE volunteer leader in Puerto Rico, and ask her about her experiences with CARE. My interview is below.
How did you learn about CARE and how long have you been volunteering?
I have been volunteering with CARE for nine years. I first learned about CARE through another volunteer, Judge Dennis Dow. I immediately thought this program was something I could implement in Puerto Rico.
Step out of the box. Volunteers should remember that they were students once, and put on that hat. … What stories do you have to share and how can those stories help young people avoid financial pitfalls.Hon. Mildred Caban (Dist. of Puerto Rico, U.S. Bankruptcy Court)
What has surprised you the most in the years you’ve spent volunteering with CARE?
What has surprised me the most is that students of all ages are interested in talking about money. Sometimes people are scared to talk to kids about finances because they think that kids are going to be bored. That’s not the case. When you come with a message and share how you can use your money wisely, kids of all ages are interested. I’ve found that they will listen to what you have to say.
What message would you give to a volunteer just starting out?
Step out of the box. Volunteers should remember that they were students once, and put on that hat. This is your opportunity to share with kids what you have learned through the years. What stories do you have to share and how can those stories help young people avoid financial pitfalls. If you have the passion and you are enthusiastic, the audience will respond. Lastly, just do your first presentation and the next one will be easier.
How are you working to engage parents in financial literacy conversations?
One of my volunteers works with a teacher to coordinate a yearly meeting after school where both the senior class and parents attend. We give a presentation and open it up for questions. We get many questions from parents and we’re learning that kids are teaching their parents what they are learning in the presentations. It’s so important that families are having these conversations together. I’ve also worked with some homeschooled groups. In fact, I had a parent tell me recently, “I am so glad you came, and I am so glad my daughter was here to hear it.” This feedback is really encouraging to us.
I understand you work with the Girl Scouts as well. Can you talk about your work with the Girl Scouts?
My first program was with the Daisies, Brownies and the Juniors. One of the attorneys in my district asked me to present to her daughter’s troop. Given that this is a younger group, we tried to make the presentation interactive. I bring objects and teach the girls the difference between needs and wants. We talk about water vs soda and a flip phone vs an iPhone. I want to get them thinking and discussing the topic with each other. We then read a portion of a book about money and close with an arts and craft activity. They make boxes and divide them into three compartments, savings, spending, and giving.
What, in your opinion, makes CARE unique?
Our relationship with the bankruptcy community. Judges and attorneys bring their stories into the classroom to help others avoid making the same mistakes. We have the opportunity to forewarn and teach young people the skills they need to avoid being in bankruptcy.
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.