Guest Opinion: Junior Achievement volunteers offer much to SW Florida students
The term “philanthropy” is often made in reference to monetary donations, but sometimes, it’s not just about cutting a check.
Yes, financial assistance is critical, but time is just as important. Eight years ago, I joined a group of successful business, government and nonprofit leaders who offer their time and valuable insight to students through Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida.
Junior Achievement is our way to share tricks of the trade with aspiring business leaders, life lessons we wished someone told us when we were teenagers or pre-teens. It can be advice on picking a college major, why it’s important to have a savings account or how to be a leader and winner in life.
Ten years ago, I started working at IBERIABANK as a commercial banking intern. A decade later, my responsibilities as executive vice president and market president for the Sarasota and Fort Myers markets are vastly different. Yes, I’ve worked hard in advancing to this position so quickly in my career, but I didn’t do it alone. I had help along the way, wisdom and guidance from my colleagues, friends and local business leaders who took the time to guide me down this path.
With my background in banking, most of my discussions with students center around money. Their financial decisions – good and bad – can change their lives for better or worse. Many students don’t have a financial expert living in their home, and Money Management 101 isn’t part of the standard school curriculum. That’s why I help explain debt load, lending and borrowing, the importance of saving, basics of budgeting, paying for college and one element that seems to trip up most Americans – credit card debt.
My advice boils down to making sound financial decisions. Don’t spend money that you don’t have.
Following our discussions in the classroom, students often pull me aside for questions about complex or personal issues like bankruptcy, foreclosure and options for parents who are out of work. It’s questions like these that must be answered, and it’s exactly why Junior Achievement is such a critical program for our youth.
On April 25, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida will recognize two of my colleagues who graciously have given their time to the organization and area schoolchildren. Pason Gaddis, co-founder and CEO of Florida Media Group, LLC, and Gary Griffin, P.E., president and CEO of B & I Contractors, Inc., will be inducted into the 2018 Business Hall of Fame, Lee County. Since it was established in 1999, the Business Hall of Fame has recognized outstanding entrepreneurs and role models who demonstrate a strong commitment to the community and our next generation of leaders.
I invite you to share in this fantastic event and help make a difference in the lives of local students. The Business Hall of Fame event will take place Wednesday, April 25, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, 5001 Coconut Road in Bonita Springs. A cocktail reception at 5 p.m. kicks off the event, followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the induction ceremony.
To reserve tables, purchase individual tickets or become a sponsor, call the Junior Achievement office at 239-225-2590 or visit www.JASWFL.org. Proceeds benefit local Junior Achievement programs.
Brandon Box is executive vice president and market president for IBERIABANK’s Sarasota and Fort Myers markets. Box is a regular volunteer for Junior Achievement and serves on the JA Hall of Fame board of directors.