This month we are pleased to share our latest volunteer profile on Patrick Clisham. Patrick has spent 16 years volunteering with CARE and currently serves as Secretary of CARE’s Board of Directors.
How did you learn about CARE?
I was a young lawyer in Chicago looking for a way to give back to the community and also connect with my fellow bankruptcy practitioners and our judges. I went to a brown bag lunch with our local judges and the Hon. John Squires (retired) discussed CARE, its mission, and his need for help getting the program off the ground in Chicago. CARE’s mission of educating students on the importance of wise use of credit really resonated with me. Growing up, I had an eighth grade teacher that went beyond teaching and attempted to impart some valuable life lessons to his students. For whatever reason, the use of credit and the importance of maintaining good credit were lessons he gave that really stuck with me and served me well as a young adult. I saw CARE as an opportunity to give back in the same way I was helped in my youth. I jumped right in.
How long have you been volunteering?
I started volunteering in Chicago in 2004, so I guess about 16 years.
What has surprised you the most in the years you’ve spent volunteering with CARE?
So many kids don’t get any foundational financial literacy education. In many cases our CARE program was the first time the kids ever heard about or gave any thought to the importance of credit and how big of an impact credit has on adults and their quality of life.
What question do you hear the most in the classroom?
What happens if you file bankruptcy?
What’s the one takeaway you want students to learn from your presentation?
Second only to health, your credit history is your single most valuable asset as an adult. Taking care to establish and maintain good credit is one of the most important things you can do as a young adult.
What is your most memorable moment or favorite story of being a volunteer?
Hard to pick one. I’d say my favorite part is when class is over and the students come up under the pretense of thanking me but are really there to ask some tough questions about their own personal family situations. That connection with the students and their obvious absorption of the presentation and reflection about what it means to them personally is the immediate payoff you get from doing a CARE presentation.
What message would you give to a volunteer just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to get involved and make your first presentation. They are addicting. The materials make it easy, and the response you get from students and their teachers make it all worthwhile.
Why did you decide to serve on CARE’s Board of Directors?
Running CARE takes a lot of hard work and organization. I watched CARE grow from a grassroots organization started in just a few cities into a national movement with chapters spread out all over the country. As CARE and its volunteer base grew, I saw a need to improve resources for and coordination among its local chapters that could only be accomplished through organization at the national level.
What do you see as CARE’s biggest area for growth?
Its audience. Even with as much success as CARE has had, there is still a massive untapped population of students, educators, and community organizations that have never heard of CARE and have yet to learn about the value CARE can bring to them.
Which of CARE’s values most resonates with you?
Empowerment. At a young age someone instilled in me the knowledge and understanding that my credit history could shape my future for the better or the worse. That knowledge and understanding empowered me to prioritize and protect my credit during my years as young adult and gave me a leg up in access to credit at a young age that I used to overcome financial challenges and leverage my successes.
Each year, CARE volunteers, like Patrick, reach countless youth across the country with empowering information that can impact their lives. Are you interested in being a volunteer? Sign up here.