CARE: Credit Abuse Resistance Education

Volunteer Profile Series: William Barrett (CARE Chicago)

This month we are pleased to share our latest volunteer profile on Bill Barrett. Bill has spent almost 10 years volunteering with the Chicago Chapter and has recently been appointed to CARE’s Board of Directors.

How did you learn about CARE?

Joe Schorer, a Chicago bankruptcy lawyer who I had known for many years, introduced me to CARE.

How long have you been volunteering?

About 10 years.

What has surprised you the most in the years you’ve spent volunteering with CARE?

The quality of the Chicago Public High Schools. The popular view of the schools is that they are chaotic, ineffective places. I have found that view to be false. I have consistently found the schools to be welcoming well-ordered places with enthusiastic students and committed teachers.

What question do you hear the most in the classroom?

Perhaps because they are used to being graded, students are very interested in credit scores and ask many questions about them.

What’s the one takeaway you want students to learn from your presentation?

Pay your bills in full and on time, and only borrow when you have a plan to pay back the debt.

What is your most memorable moment or favorite story of being a volunteer?

I was giving an anecdote, from a real situation I had handled, where people were “kiting” credit cards, which is using cash advances on one card to make minimum payments on other cards. A student in the back of the classroom grasped what was going on and shouted out: “that’s just dollars chasing dollars.” I didn’t mind the disruption; seeing the light bulb go on in a student’s head is a thrilling experience.

What message would you give to a volunteer just starting out?

When you do a CARE presentation, you not only benefit your audience, but you develop yourself. You learn how to master an audience of squirming teenagers, a life skill that will come in use in the future. You will also have some of your own deep biases revealed to yourself which you can then debunk.

Each year, CARE volunteers, like Bill, reach countless youth across the country with empowering information that can impact their lives.  Are you interested in being a volunteer?  Sign up here.

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