Andree Taylor’s story of credit debt is a familiar one: the unsuspecting college freshman signed up for a credit card to receive a free t-shirt, and when the card arrived in the mail, the jobless teen didn’t understand how to responsibly use it. Taking years to finally pay off that card, the Charlotte, North Carolina resident is using his experience to help improve financial literacy for others in his community.
As the lead volunteer for Bank of America and Khan University’s Better Money Habits Champions organization in the Charlotte area, Andree is leveraging skills from his day job in the finance industry to simplify concepts like budgeting, credit and savings. Connecting with more than one thousand people thus far, Andree is helping to change the future for his community.
What inspires you to volunteer?
The spirit of helping people and giving back to my community has always lived within me. Growing up, people gave back to me, and that support really helped me get to where I am today. Through service, I am paying that support forward to folks that have limited opportunities to grow in their lives.
Describe your role with Better Money Habits Volunteer Champions.
As the lead volunteer in the Charlotte area, I provide financial education and help to coordinate volunteer activities across several hundred volunteers in our area. We host educational sessions including basic financing, budgeting and credit for anybody age 13 and up.
Share some personal stories with me from your volunteerism.
I recently spoke to college students through an event hosted by the United Negro College Fund about the wealth gap between African Americans, Hispanics and Whites. Their eyes just lit up when they saw the disparity that exists, and the topic spawned questions about how we can reduce that gap. At the end of the session, folks came up wanting to know what they can do now to apply the knowledge we are providing.
We also recently held a virtual Better Money Habits session with 12 Georgia State University students who are on the autism spectrum in conjunction with World Autism Awareness month. We talked about how banks work, interest, budgeting, financial independence and financial information security. The students were engaged and asked some really good questions, and even shared some personal experiences. It’s great to have these conversations with students.
You are making a positive impact on the lives of others. What does that mean to you?
I can’t put a value on what this financial information will do for these individuals and their future generations. It makes me smile and makes me want to volunteer more. We are helping struggling people to help themselves and in turn, help others to grow as a people.
What’s one way you hope to inspire others in your service?
As I think about people and the future, our lives are not our own. If we do our part here, and somebody else does their part, then we as a people will grow holistically, and we grow as a people overall.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your service?
The “a-ha” moments. Seeing someone’s eyes light up as you’re talking to them. These people get it, and then they start to ask questions that relate to their situation. Those moments give me that internal drive to keep helping others.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
This is stuff you may take for granted, but a lot of folks don’t know about what I consider to be basic financial knowledge. That realization makes me want to dive deeper into the details of what we’re talking about, and continue to provide specific demographics with a deeper understanding of financial literacy.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
Fulfillment. Volunteering fulfills my internal desire to give back.
How can readers help?
Please visit the Better Money Habits Champion website for more information about how you can help.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Andree Taylor? Find local volunteer opportunities.