For a little over an hour a month, I attend boot camp. Not boot camp in the traditional sense, rather at the Illinois Youth Detention Center in Murphysboro. For the past several months the credit union has been invited to come in and talk to the inmates about financial literacy. I also bring a birthday cake with me for those celebrating birthdays that month. It’s amazing how that little gesture means the world to those locked up, without family on their special day.
I’ve always enjoyed helping people understand the tricks to managing their money successfully. But I get an even greater sense of satisfaction when the 15 or so kids who are nearing the end of their stay and I spend one morning a month talking money. I was lucky enough to be raised in a family where money was never a concern … at least if it was, it wasn’t my concern. But these kids, many of them from broken homes, have a different perspective on money. They’ve had to worry about where their next meal will come from. Most had to steal or sell drugs just to survive. I spend an hour trying to reinforce the lessons they’ve been given during their stay. Hopefully that time is as rewarding to them as it is to me.
The boot camp is military in nature. The inmates wear uniforms and march to commands. For the most part, they are respectful and obedient. It’s the easiest class I’ve ever had to talk to … and quite possibly the most important. Hopefully, the inmates will take away the importance of my message: Get an education. Find a good job. Live within your means. It’s simple stuff, but words that many of them have never heard before.
I look forward to my visits with them. I only hope my message is heard and I don’t begin seeing familiar faces in the classroom.
-Chris Sievers, Marketing Director