JA Volunteers Receive While Giving

Laura Elliott, the education marketing manager at Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia <https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-swva> , shared the story of this first-time JA volunteer Nancy Craft. Nancy, who works for Allstate <http://www.allstate.com/> in Roanoke, shared how her JA students taught her some meaningful life lessons.

"This is my first year as a Junior Achievement volunteer," Nancy said. "I became involved because I wanted to give back to the community. With retirement not far away, it was also an opportunity to observe what I might want to do in my spare time. Truthfully, I also thought this would be a great addition to my next performance review.

"I chose a second grade class. How hard could this be? The commitment to the project was 15 minutes for the first visit and five one-hour weekly visits after that. Since I missed the JA overview, Theresa Wickham, our in-house JA hero, gave me instructions. She handed me a JA kit with all the materials I needed to complete my task, as well a big dose of enthusiasm for the project. I thought I was going to have a panic attack! I didn't have the heart to tell her I was afraid to stand in front of second graders.

"I took my materials home and enlisted the help of my husband. We opened the bag, and soon our living room floor was laid out with five tidy piles of materials, representing each week of class. The materials included colorful posters, stickers and gifts for the children to share with their families. Best of all, an instruction book was included! Total preparation time for each lesson was about 30 minutes.

"I arrived at my school to find 22 eager, energetic children all looking at me. I shared with the class where I worked, and every child had a question for me. When I asked the class what a volunteer was, several students told me that volunteers do things for fun, that it feels good to help others and that you don't get paid. It doesn't get any better than that! When I asked the children what they wanted to do when they grew up, I received answers such as lawyer, artist, soldier or fireman to name a few. Not one child told me they wanted to be unemployed; they all have big hopes and dreams. These children have so much energy, eagerness to learn, and willingness to please.

I don't know who went home happier after each session. What did I learn from these second graders? I volunteered for all the wrong reasons. I really do have a lot to offer, and having it on my next performance review doesn't seem as important now. The rewards I received were worth more than I gave. These children are our future. Don't laugh; one of them could be your boss one day. I really did give something freely, didn't have a long-term time commitment and it made me feel good.

If I can do this, you can, too!"

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