Making a Connection: Young Professionals Share Their Knowledge and Skills in Volunteer Roles

by bbdeveloper | January 28, 2020

Megan Audet and her fiancé, Chris Grassano, are contributing
their professional skills and expertise to empower those in need.

Megan and Chris, 26-year-old CPAs originally from
Pennsylvania, have served as volunteers with Catholic Charities for more than a
year. They are two of the young professionals who make up a new generation of contributors
to the agency.

Initially drawn to the agency’s overall mission, they found a more intimate connection after learning about our Financial Stability Network (FSN), which provides financial education and coaching to those in need.

“I love working with people and learning from others’
experiences,” Megan said. “So, this was an incredible opportunity to give back
and get to know some amazing people. Specifically, with FSN, it feels
beneficial to share my knowledge with others to help them overcome any
adversity they may currently be facing in life.”

Megan, who is employed by FTI Consulting, started out
by teaching a budgeting class to students at the Catholic Charities Center once
a month. Instead of teaching a general curriculum, Megan tailored her lesson
plans around what would be most applicable to her students’ lives, many of whom
were new to the United States. She taught them practical budgeting tips like
how to open a bank account and how to use free apps to help them stay on track
on a daily basis.

Soon, Megan and Chris, who works for KPMG, became
financial coaches, working with individual clients on achieving their short-
and long-term financial goals. Their clients sought their help to tackle a
variety of issues, from paying down large amounts of medical debt, to
developing a plan to save for a house. They worked to make banking more
approachable and accessible for their clients.

“With over 10% of the D.C. population unbanked,” Chris
noted, “each individual who creates a bank account and understands the benefits
of using a checking and savings account is a true success story for me.”

During their time as volunteer coaches, they were invited
to be instructors for a pilot program teaching financial literacy to inmates at
the Prince George’s County Community Release Center. The program was developed
by FSN to supplement the work of the Welcome Home

For five weeks, Megan and Chris covered a range of
personal finance topics, including budgeting, banking services, savings, and credit
cards. They also tailored their lessons around their students’ personal
situations and taught them important information like how to open a bank
account as someone with a criminal record.

“Megan and Chris have done a wonderful job teaching a
life skill — financial literacy — to a community in serious need of
understanding personal finance,” said Deacon Jim Shanahan, who oversees the FSN.
“Megan and Chris were very effective in explaining budgeting, credit scores,
debt management, banking and tax planning to individuals about to re-enter the
working world.”

Participants had the opportunity to ask specific
questions about issues they would face when they transitioned out of the
criminal justice system. Megan and Chris were pleasantly surprised to hear that
many of their students hoped to open businesses upon their release. While this
wasn’t their area of expertise, they felt the topic was important enough to
research and to provide them with resources.

“I loved getting questions that neither Megan nor I
knew the answer to, researching them after class, and then following up the
next week,” Chris said. “Not only did it help expand our knowledge, but it also
provided us with more knowledge about what each of the students commonly face

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