JA Volunteer Profile: Joseph Jones

Junior Achievement

We Are JA is a profile series highlighting the people who make up Junior Achievement – volunteers, students, companies, donors, alumni and more. Celebrating the moments, successes and experiences of our constituents, this series reveals the people who are part of Junior Achievement’s impact in the North Florida region.

Joseph Jones Joseph Jones, Volunteer
Retirement Benefits Specialist: Tax Sheltered Plans, AXA Advisors

JA: How did you learn about Junior Achievement and why did you want to become involved?

Joseph: I had heard about Junior Achievement for years, but never really looked into it fully. Being involved with Duval County Public Schools as a retirement benefits resource, a lot of my contacts and clients asked me about Junior Achievement and my involvement.

My business partner Marie Galke and I finally reached out to Tiffany Mackey [VP of Programs] after going through the orientation during one of our weekly training sessions over at the AXA branch office downtown. I told her my schedule, the schools I represented as a retirement benefits specialist, and she connected me with Mr. O’Brien at Edward H. White High School. After the first Junior Achievement “JA in a Day” we were hooked.

Jeff Davis Middle

You participated in several Reverse Job Shadow events this past school year. What surprised you most during your conversations with the students?

What surprised me most was that a lot of the students actually had well-thought-out questions besides just “how much money do you make?” Many asked me how happy I was with my job, and for some details on the day-to-day schedule of what my work life looks like.

They asked about the requirements to get on my career path, and what specifically they could do in order to accomplish this. I feel that overall the students took the Reverse Job Shadows seriously and gained some valuable insight.

As a financial professional, what do you hope students take away from your conversations with them?

Junior Achievement of North Florida Volunteer Kirby Smith MiddleI hope that students take away the need to be proactive and educated about the financial world around them, including their personal financial situation. Learning the simple concepts and steps to take ownership of one’s financial future is easy to do with the curriculum of Junior Achievement.

Through the programming already built out that flows smoothly from year to year, a student who goes through the full JA curriculum should have a masterful understanding of general financial practices. I hope to help build knowledgeable citizens who one day will contribute to a changed economic landscape here and abroad.

What would you tell someone who has never volunteered with Junior Achievement but is thinking of getting involved?

The easiest way to get started is to just make the commitment and jump in. I had never taught, and definitely had not taught any children. The curriculum and resources already built into the programming make the process extremely easy and stress-free. This allows you to focus on the students, the relationships, and making the material as
relatable as possible by putting it in your own voice.

When you finish a course and know that you’ve made an impact on somebody by teaching them a new concept or getting them interested in their own personal finances, that’s when you feel great and want to come back and volunteer more.

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To volunteer with Junior Achievement of North Florida, please visit www.JAjax.com.

Volunteer Profile: Ruth Wright

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We Are JA is a profile series highlighting the people who make up Junior Achievement – volunteers, students, companies, donors, alumni and more. Celebrating the moments, successes and experiences of our constituents, this series reveals the people who are part of Junior Achievement’s impact in the North Florida region.

Volunteer: Ruth Wright

Junior Achievement volunteer

Ruth WrightRuth Wright, PwC, has been volunteering with Junior Achievement for the past 8 years in Tampa and Jacksonville and is an example of someone who goes above and beyond to support JA’s mission.

This past spring, the date for PwC’s “JA in a Day” at Pickett Elementary just so happened to fall during her planned Hawaiian vacation. Despite being thousands of miles away on an island in the Pacific, she carried out her volunteer coordinator duties.

Melissa Daniel, JA Program Director, remembers telling Ruth to “Stop working!” as Ruth coordinated the JA in a Day from Hawaii. Ruth even checked in via text messages the day-of to see how it was going and made sure all volunteers were accounted for.

On the occasion we are short a classroom volunteer, she has volunteered the night before to fill in the scheduled JA class. Ruth has participated in our JA Reverse Job Shadow event and she is currently coordinating a PwC team for our Florida vs. Georgia-themed Fall Bowl-A-Thon.

Ruth was selected to participate in PwC’s Project Belize later this month where she’ll teach financial literacy at schools in Belize City. “I am beyond thrilled!” she exclaimed of the opportunity to impact more youth.

Junior Achievement Volunteer

Junior Achievement: Why did you want to get involved with JA?

Ruth Wright: I love what JA does. There are so many youth who do not have the opportunities to receive basic financial literacy skills that can improve their lives tenfold. I really was drawn to the stories I heard from youth being successful coming out of the programs. I also love working with kids, so that helps!

What is your favorite part about volunteering?

I am always amazed at the kids’ reaction and willingness to learn and am truly humbled by the experience. I also feel that JA makes a difference in their lives, and am honored to be a part of this process.

Seeing kids remember topics covered from prior year’s lessons reinforces that the program does work. It is hard to really think of just one memorable moment, as there have been so many, but one of my favorite things is feeling the unconditional love the children give to me when I come and go.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about getting their company to participate in “JA in a Day”?

It is a truly rewarding experience! Even just one person going into the classroom makes a difference!

Junior Achievement Volunteer

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Junior Achievement volunteer

To learn more about volunteering with Junior Achievement of North Florida, please visit www.JAjax.com.

Volunteer Company Profile: BBVA Compass

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We Are JA is a series of profiles highlighting the people who make up Junior Achievement – volunteers, students, educators, donors, alumni and more. Celebrating the moments, successes and experiences of our constituents, this series recognizes those who are part of Junior Achievement’s impact in the North Florida region.

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BBVA Compass, Volunteer Company

Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Wagner reflects on their first year volunteering with Junior Achievement.

JA: This was BBVA Compass’ first year volunteering. What has the feedback been like from your team?
Jenny Wagner: The feedback from the BBVA Compass Volunteer Chapter in Jacksonville has been amazing. Our team of employee volunteers had never executed financial education events of this scale and magnitude.

From start to finish, the Junior Achievement team made the training process simple and seamless for our employees – giving them the confidence to deliver the new financial literacy program to students in our communities.

A majority of our volunteers said it exceeded their expectations and in fact, many of our employees have expressed interest in teaching JA again!

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What does your team enjoy most about volunteering with Junior Achievement?
Time and time again, our volunteers express how much they love being able to lend their financial expertise to the communities where we live and work.

The joy on the children’s faces and the personal satisfaction of knowing we helped make a difference in their lives is priceless. I’m proud of our team’s work and truly believe that our BBVA Compass volunteers have the biggest hearts in Northeast Florida!

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BBVA Compass brought JA in a Day to 98 classes across four schools this year. What is your favorite memory from that time?
Our volunteers had the opportunity to interact and learn from children of all ages. As you can imagine, there are plenty of funny stories to tell.

My favorite memory was listening to our volunteers share their JA experiences and stories. The intent of teaching was to give back to the kids in our communities, but an unexpected delight was realizing how much the kids gave back to all of us.


Junior Achievement of North Florida Volunteer

Junior Achievement Volunteers

Junior Achievement Volunteers

To learn more about volunteering with Junior Achievement of North Florida, please visit www.JAjax.com.