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How JA Programming Molded a Local Leader

Junior Achievement of Maine Board Member Kevin Heatley Remembers his Experience as a JA student

Junior Achievement of Maine has many outstanding volunteers and community members who are dedicated to the mission of JA for various reasons. Longtime Board Member Kevin Heatley of Gorham Savings Bank recently shared his reason - which begins when he was a JA high school student himself! 

When I was in high school in the 1980s, I had the opportunity to work with other high schoolers to start my own company, twice. One time, we made key ring holders and the other time we made bookends. Both times, we chose people to take leadership positions in the company, we hand made the products, chose how much to sell them for, and sold them all to our family and friends.

All of this was possible because of Junior Achievement. It taught me a lot about starting and running a small business, including how to make a profit (hopefully!). I worked with volunteer mentors from local businesses who helped guide our companies in the right direction. Coincidentally, 21 years later, I work with one of those mentors at Gorham Savings Bank (shout out to Rick Proctor!).

JA in high school really fed my aspirations for being a leader in a company, something that carried over to other groups in which I was involved in high school and college. I found myself not only involved, but leading many of the groups I joined. Those experiences helped build me to be a supervisor when I was only 24 and on to be a Senior Vice President at Gorham Savings Bank now.

My passion for helping others was also fed by JA. When I was in high school, I taught a JA financial literacy class in my old middle school in South Portland. Many years later, I found my way back to JA and now I teach several classes a year, as well as organize the hosting of job shadow days at my workplace. I find it so rewarding to share my experiences with others while teaching them important topics related to financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

Both of those passions have culminated in the Launchpad Junior project I helped start in cooperation with the bank and Junior Achievement. GSB hosts a business pitch program that gives away $60,000 to up and coming businesses every year. Two years ago, we incorporated the middle school JA program, “It’s My Business”, into Launchpad and invite three middle school classes to pitch how they would fill a need in their community. The audience votes on the winning ideas, but all of the schools earn a donation from the bank. Marrying the two programs is ideal, both for the bank and for Junior Achievement. It is also a lot of fun!

Besides feeling like I make a difference for every student I work with through JA, I keep learning. Whether it is a second grader who gives me his/her take on running a business or a middle schooler who comes for a job shadow and gives his/her thoughts on what should be in a branch, I am continually gaining new insights that make me a better person and a better banker.

All of that keeps me coming back for more.

JA is grateful for the mentorship that Kevin, along with many other Gorham Savings Bank volunteers, provides to Maine students. To learn more about how to get involved with Junior Achievement of Maine, contact us at info@jamaine.org

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