Teen Finance Wiz Brings Educational Opportunities to Peers and Uses Skills to Benefit the Community

Daily Point of Light # 7760 Mar 4, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Gavin Villepigue. Read his story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Gavin Villepigue is looking forward to two things right now: his 16th birthday and the personal finance class he’ll be teaching at the local library. The latter may be a bit surprising, but Gavin has been on the library’s Teen Advisory Board for the past three years and has a deep-seated interest in the topic, so it’s a natural sharing opportunity. He has also established and led a DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) chapter at his school where students can learn more about finance in a practical context and compete on state and national levels with their knowledge. Perhaps his biggest role is as a financial analyst for Joshua’s Heart Foundation.

As the middle of three brothers, Gavin often works with family to help fill in the financial gaps in his community through independently-organized events. They recently collected thousands of vital items for a nearby under-resourced school. Through various organizations, he’s been able to donate more than 5,000 books to teachers along with school supplies and food to those who may need them.

Along with his finance activities, this high school sophomore is an Eagle Scout who serves as his troop’s den chief and a chaplain’s aide mentoring younger scouts. He participates in mock trial, as well as school and club soccer as a goalkeeper. And he brings more educational opportunities to his peers through the Cultural Linguistics Preservation Society (CLPS), with whom he sets up events with Native American tribes in the area. Gavin’s passion for numbers and his neighbors make him a pillar of his community, and his actions will benefit others for years to come.

School supplies are in high demand at the Dunbar School, and Gavin (middle) and his team bring donations to

What inspires you to volunteer?

Knowing that I’m helping others brings me a lot of joy. I really like seeing the impact of my work. We donate a lot of school supplies to a school in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It’s fun, because I’ll get to help the teachers bring them in and, sometimes, hand them out.

Tell us about your volunteer roles.

For the Joshua’s Heart Foundation, I apply for a lot of grants. An example of that was a $50,000 grant from TD Bank I did most of the work myself to apply for two months ago. I’m hoping to hear back from them soon. And at the end of the year, we help them file their taxes.

At the library, I have organized things like the “Thank You” Basket event to support emergency responders. I do a lot of stuff, not just with the youth board. I also do a lot of drives there. I know the people at the library well, and right now I’m doing a drive for snacks and other non-perishable food with DECA. We’re also getting a grant from the Kroger board that will help me buy some of the snacks myself.

For CLPS, we facilitate learning about Native Americans. It’s important to our identity as Americans. I mostly get into contact with leaders of tribes in the area to set up meeting times. We’ll do a school event, whether it be over Zoom or, if we’re lucky enough, in-person. They bring in artifacts and teach us about the history of their tribe, the effects of the westward expansion and what they’re doing today. They also did some tribal dances last year.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

It’s the joy that I get from seeing other people have joy and knowing that the work I do is helping young people–and even older people–learn about finance and be more financially secure.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

Even though people might not be outwardly struggling, a lot of people do need help, and it’s very rewarding for me to help them. I’ve also learned how even the smallest of gestures has a big impact on people’s lives and the wellbeing of entire communities.

Tell us about future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be starting my personal finance class at the library. It’s going to be about personal finance stuff that’s important for people of all ages like saving money, your checking account, information on credit cards versus debit cards, etc. It’ll also have some basics like budgeting.

Gavin (left) and fellow volunteer load donated books for the Darien Book Aid in Darien, CT.

Why is it important for others to get involved with causes they care about?

Whether you yourself are struggling or prospering, it’s important to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world from a different perspective. Even if you spend an hour doing something, you can have a very fast impact on a bunch of different people, and it’ll bring you joy. If everyone does that, it’ll have a big impact on the world.

Any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

A great resource that I often use is my local library. You can definitely facilitate drives there. Also, just look in your community and see what you need more of. Reach out to people who work at different organizations and charities that operate in your area.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

You can have an impact on anyone, no matter who you are or where you are. You can help people, and helping people brings you as much joy as it does to them. Once again, no matter how small your act is, it can have a very big impact on other people. That’s the main thing that I want people to learn.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Gavin? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Kristin Park