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Stories of Impact: Celebrating National Volunteer Month | Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City

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A woman volunteering and reading to young students in a classroom setting.

Stories of Impact: Celebrating National Volunteer Month

Join Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City this April as we celebrate National Volunteer Month! Volunteers are the cornerstone of our mission to help students build a solid foundation of crucial life skills to prepare them for choice-filled futures.

Our volunteers mentor and engage with students, providing them with knowledge on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and career readiness. They share their personal and professional experiences with students, in turn, bringing learning to life and opening their eyes to the possibilities of their futures. We are so grateful for all our volunteers who make a positive impact and inspire youth across Kansas City!

Recently, we sat down with a few of our volunteers for a Q&A session. Keep reading to learn more about their experiences and what motivates them to give back to their communities.

Interested in volunteering? JAKC provides many opportunities for volunteers with different skillsets and availability. From assisting in the classroom to helping onsite at JA BizTown®, presented by CommunityAmerica Credit Union, there’s sure to be an opportunity perfect for you! Visit our volunteer page to learn more about our volunteer opportunities in Kansas City.


Dee Dee Eccles

How have you volunteered with JAKC?

I have been volunteering with Junior Achievement in classroom teaching since my oldest son was in third grade. I taught his class and was hooked for sure! That was in 2007. I then expanded to teaching K-3 curriculum to various schools over the years to the present, 2024.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with us?

The students’ enthusiasm for the curriculum of Junior Achievement and the fun and informative ways I can adapt as a former teacher to stimulate the kids and keep them interested.

How do you think you make an impact in students’ lives by volunteering?

I know I made an impact on the students, especially since I have concentrated most of my volunteering to one specific school and when they see me they remember some of the lessons from the previous year. I hope they remember good money choices and how to use money wisely. Parents over the years have stated that their children love JA and talk about the concepts at home.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about volunteering?

If you have a passion for teaching students fun and creative ways of instruction to teach money and entrepreneurship, JA is for you. The materials are fresh and easy to use, I only wish I would get to teach more sessions. I always feel I need more time to give to the classes and watch them grow in their concepts!

Anything else you would like to add?

I always leave my classes smiling and excited to return again and again. Children are works in progress and it’s fun to watch them grow their ideas. I will continue to work with JA for as long as I can.

Jorge Soberón-Hernández

How have you volunteered with JAKC?

I do JA BizTown once a month, either by myself or with my colleagues from Arvest. At times, the JA BizTown team will inform me in advance about Spanish speaking students attending BizTown, and I will work individually with the kids to make sure that they absorb the knowledge of the experience while having a blast doing it!

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with us?

Observing how the students connect the dots about running a business and paying off their loan.

How do you think you make an impact in students’ lives by volunteering?

Particularly, with the Hispanic students, by mentoring them. Representation matters, and it is important they can interact with someone that looks like them and can answer questions about his college experience and professionally career. It creates a sense of belonging and aspiration.

What motivates you to give back to the community?

Making sure that we are doing everything we can to educate our students well, ensuring that they will become our future leaders, successful business owners, and engaged community members.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about volunteering?

To do it! Aside from being a noble activity to give back to your community, there are several studies indicating the vast personal (health) benefits from volunteering, it makes you happy!

I really like this quote: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Why is it important for others to volunteer in their communities?

Because by doing so, you are helping, improving, building and/or healing your community and those who need it the most. Service to others, practicing kindness and empathy are cornerstones of every community.

Patrick Nelson

How have you volunteered with JAKC?

I have volunteered for several school events, career fairs and classroom.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with us?

Having the opportunity to share the aviation industry with the youth.

How do you think you make an impact in students’ lives by volunteering?

The engagement with the students just gives an opportunity to additional career options not usually spoken about at the dinner table.

What motivates you to give back to the community?

I am an inner-city kid who eventually found my way into a great career.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about volunteering?

The only way to affect change is to connect with the youth of our future.

Why is it important for others to volunteer in their communities?

Life experiences need to be shared. We may be good alone but we are great together.

Tim Lapinski

How have you volunteered with JAKC?

My first experience volunteering with JA was in 2018 and 2019 at Garfield Elementary School. We did classroom learning with the kids on entrepreneurship and exploring different professions. During COVID, I did zoom calls with classrooms as a career speaker. I have also spent time organizing volunteer days for Helzberg Diamonds at JA BizTown. I worked in many of the store fronts including Hallmark, Charlie Hustle, Price Chopper and Evergy. Recently I’ve spent time as a business coach and judge for the 3DE Program at Olathe East High School.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with us?

I love watching how excited kids are when they visit BizTown. They spend so much time preparing for their visit and can’t wait to get started when they arrive. I also love the original ideas that come out of the students in 3DE. It so fun to watch them working as a team to solve the business case challenges.

How do you think you make an impact in students’ lives by volunteering?

Hopefully by promoting their creativity. Showing them that there are no bad ideas.

What motivates you to give back to the community?

My motivation mostly comes from knowing that I taught a student something that they can apply to their life as they continue to grow. Sometimes it’s realizing what their career goals are. Other times it’s helping them understand practical skills like budgeting, saving and paying bills.

What would you say to someone who’s thinking about volunteering?

Try it once! I promise you’ll be back!

Why is it important for others to volunteer in their communities?

Because when you volunteer, you are making a personal investment in your community. It’s not just about the service you provide, it’s also about the good feelings and emotional boost you get from doing something for others.

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