United Way Suncoast lends a hand at JA’s Finance Park

United Way Suncoast team members reveled over volunteering at Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay’s Finance Park on Dec. 9.

Devan Endlich, Ernest Hooper, Ilise James, Daniel Mineo, Autumn Pandolfo and Alma Ovalle helped guide Rampello Downtown Partnership eighth graders through hypothetical life situations involving budgeting, critical decision making, and career exploration. They responded, as only students can, with comical questions:

  • “Why won’t this let me not pay taxes?” 
  • “I don’t need water, I can shower in the lake.” 
  • “If you live alone in a mansion, you really don’t need to buy clothes.” 
  • “Can I divorce my husband? Then I can afford all organic groceries.” 

Beyond the humor, a reminder: “According to a 2019 Federal Reserve Survey, “almost 40 percent of American adults are unsure how they would cover a $400 emergency with cash, savings or a credit-card charge that they could quickly pay off.” This is why United Way Suncoast focuses so much on ALICE families, those hard-working parents and children who stand just one unexpected expense away from dire circumstances. 

Ultimately, the students found enlightenment, a greater focus on their career plans and a deeper appreciation for the decisions their parents make every day. They also got a chance to include United Way Suncoast, a Junior Achievement partner, in their budgeting.

In the end, we succeeded in helping empower them to take control of their financial future, and every team member learned a little something along the way.

“I loved supporting this program and the early exposure to financial education,” Daniel said. 

Sign up for this and other volunteer experiences at VolunteerSuncoast.org.

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