Friday, October 20, 2006

PIED PIPER

Looking into the faces of today’s youth after they’ve had a long day at school is a reminder of how important it is to do something special when you want to get their attention. I thought to myself, what could we do to reach these kids and make the important things we have to say stick?

As the Relationship Manager for the Beacon Hill Branch, I’m charged with the delightful duty of creating a Verity presence in the community. So when Jean, a Youth Director from the Jefferson Community Center in Beacon Hill contacted me about hosting a class regarding financial responsibility to at-risk kids, I was eager and excited at the prospect.

First, I contacted our traveling Financial Guru, Alicia, a former DFI fraud-buster and skilled speaker on identity theft and investments. I thought she would be the perfect presenter to these eager young people about ideas on protecting their identities and on how they could invest in their own futures.

Our presentation followed a gentleman who had talked about investments, and, as I got up to introduce Alicia and myself, I recognized that familiar rolling back, lid-heavy, slight glaze, that doe in the headlight look over wide teenage eyes that said: “peace out”.

I gave a brief presentation about the differences between Credit Unions and banks, debit cards and credit cards, answered several questions, and told them I’d be happy to open an account for them when they were ready.

We took a moment for everyone to stretch and take 5 before Alicia started her presentation, and I took the opportunity to run downstairs and pick up the awaiting “attention getter”.

I was the Pied Piper of Pizza, and as I noticed the trail of teens behind me, I said, “Okay, who’s going to open an account with me today?”

Absolute teen SILENCE. You could hear a pin drop. “Okay, just kidding!” There was a group sigh of relief as they descended upon the pizza and pop. They were now refreshed and all ears.

Alicia took the stage for the next hour or so engaging the rapt attention of the alert teens. She shared pictures of her own youth and monetary mistakes to giggles and smiles. Then she got them leaning forward in their chairs when she spoke about chasing the bad guys: identity thieves. The group was also very impressed with the graph in which she demonstrated how a very small investment today could lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in the future.

These are smart kids and they had some great questions for Alicia. So, to reward them for their attention and to get them started on their financial futures, Alicia handed each of them a $5.00 bill to use an investment in themselves and their future, or perhaps an investment in Taco Bell later that eveing.

2 Comments:

Blogger shari storm said...

Mel - Vivian and I used to visit Jefferson Community Center when we worked at Consumer Credit Counseling. What a great program! I am glad to hear it is still alive and thriving. They do good work. Sounds like the event was a success all around. Thanks for sharing.

Mon Oct 23, 03:17:00 PM PDT  
Blogger melaniem said...

Thanks, Shari,
It was an enthusiastic group and Jean said she would love to see other classes similar to this one. Alicia and I would be happy to oblige.

Tue Oct 24, 12:10:00 PM PDT  

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