By Ann Hardie
Ask Ronald Moore what was the most fun he’s had as an AARP volunteer, and he’ll say it was helping middle school students in metro Atlanta learn to be financially savvy and independent through role-playing.
Moore, of Alpharetta, an assistant principal at Louise Radloff Middle School in Duluth, participated in last year’s National Day of Service, and he plans to do it again on Sept. 11, when AARP Georgia joins forces with Junior Achievement of Georgia.
About 40 volunteers will guide seventh graders spending the day from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Junior Achievement’s Discovery Center, 1335 Old Norcross Rd., Lawrenceville. The center provides students with hands-on, virtual lifestyle education and real-world lessons on how to manage money and function at work.
“We could not host the program without volunteers,” said Colleen Ware, director of development at Junior Achievement of Georgia, an organization designed to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.
The seventh graders will be assigned different “life situations” pertaining to jobs, incomes, education and various family scenarios. The students will then visit mock businesses and learn how to budget, access banking services and make sound investment decisions.
Last year, Moore volunteered with a group of sixth graders “employed” at Wells Fargo. A little tension arose between the student CEO in charge and the student CFO controlling the purse strings, he recalled, laughing. Students playing the role of tellers had to stand at the counter and talk with classmates posing as customers—and smile.
“I think the experience was a real eye-opener for students as to what their parents go through,” Moore said. “They gained an appreciation for what it is like to be an adult.”
Volunteers will gain as much from the experience—if not more—as the kids, Moore said. “They will have the opportunity to see that there is a group of young people who are going to be the future leaders who are ready and willing to learn. It is inspiring.”
Planning for retirement
Along with providing volunteers, AARP Georgia contributed $10,000 to help cover the cost of students attending the program and to provide teachers with tools and resources to prepare students for the Day of Service.
One of the tools is the AARP Retirement Calculator, which helps individuals figure out if they are putting enough money away for a comfortable retirement.
AARP Georgia’s partnership with Junior Achievement emphasizes to students the importance of being financially responsible throughout their lives, said Charima Young, AARP associate state director for community outreach.
“Parents want their children to be educated about money, but many of them don’t include young adults in the conversation about the family’s finances,” she said. “The result is that the ‘sandwich generation’ has not fully equipped them with information about how financial decisions impact the family.”
Working with students is also a good way to reach parents—and their teachers—who may not be planning adequately for retirement.
“A lot of children take home materials they receive from Junior Achievement through AARP and discuss what they have been learning with their family members,” Young said. “We hope that will lead some parents to ask themselves questions about how they are preparing for their own retirement.”
AARP Georgia looks for opportunities to get older people involved with younger generations.
“That is definitely part of our strategy,” Young said, underscoring the fact that Atlanta has joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. “Intergenerational opportunities keep older adults active and lively and engaged in the community.
“Our volunteers love to give back,” she added. “The Day of Service gives them the perfect opportunity to share their own work and life experience with different generations.” To volunteer by Sept. 10, call 877-926-8300 toll-free.
Ann Hardie is a writer living in Atlanta.