This month, we are going to kickstart a new recurring series: Volunteer Profiles. We’d like to highlight some of CARE’s most dedicated volunteers and tell their stories, especially why they are passionate about financial education. As CARE grows and our volunteer base evolves, we feel it’s important to record and highlight the stories of many different volunteers. This month, for our first volunteer profile, we’re going to Kansas City, MO to visit one of our dedicated volunteer leaders, Joanne Stutz. Joanne is a bankruptcy attorney and she has been a CARE volunteer for the past eight years.
How did you learn about CARE?
I am not sure I recall. It was probably through a global email. It piqued my interest and seemed worthwhile so I responded and have never regretted that.
What do you remember about your first volunteer experience?
It was a bit scary and daunting. I had never been in a classroom on the teaching side – at least not as an adult and not at this age level. I was not sure if they would listen, or care. Fortunately, I was not alone, so having someone to present with helped immensely. And the students really surprised me. They were engaged and listened!
What question do you hear the most in the classroom?
Many kids are thinking about college. We often get asked about student loans.
What’s the one takeaway you want students to learn from your presentation?
I share my mantra with students: don’t use a credit card unless you have the cash to pay for it when the bill comes in and be aware of what you are spending your money on.
What is your most memorable moment or favorite story of being a volunteer?
I was in Target when a young man came up to me and exclaimed something to the effect: I know you. You talked to our class about “CARE”. It made it all worthwhile.
Why is volunteering for CARE so important to you?
Because of that student at Target. And because as a bankruptcy attorney I see the effects of not having any financial education. People need to learn how to manage their finances at an early age, not as adults. With just a little help and common sense, some of the mistakes that lead to bankruptcy could be avoided. It is not a cure for bankruptcy because sometimes bad things happen to good people and are beyond their control. It is when the finances are out of control because learning how to control them was never presented that is the problem. And I hope that just reaching one or two will help.
What do you want potential volunteers to know about CARE?
It may not be billable and may take away from billable hours, but it is so worth it. To know that we are imparting some wisdom that, in this day of student loans and free-spending, may help future adults do better is worth every minute I do not bill a client.
Each year, CARE volunteers, like Joanne, reach countless youth across the country with empowering information that can impact their lives. Are you interested in being a volunteer? Sign up here.