In August 2012, Junior Achievement of Maine provided support services at the Great State of Maine Air Show as a unique fundraising activity. The money raised goes to providing financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurial programs to students in kindergarten through 12th grade throughout the state of Maine. Ann Goodenow, area board operations director for Junior Achievement of Maine, recently shared an experience that demonstrates the power of JA programs. As JA Area board members from Mid Coast Maine and students volunteered at the air show, a man involved with the show’s communications revealed his JA roots.
Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jim Fiorito was the youngest of four children and felt alone as older siblings left home and as a close childhood friend moved away. As he searched for an activity to fill his time, he was approached to join the local JA Company Program® his freshman year of high school. Through the program, students organize and operate an actual business enterprise and learn about how businesses function and the benefits of the U.S. free enterprise system.
Fiorito’s advisor helped the student group develop a unique business venture: a 13-week television show. The students developed the program, which showcased famous personalities in the area, including ventriloquist Shari Lewis, television star Fred Gywnn (Herman Munster), former Cincinnati Reds catcher Johnny Bench, actor James Brolin, actor George Clooney’s parents and the former head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Sam Wyche. Through the project, Fiorito and his team members learned about “cold calling” to sell advertising time and other business aspects of television production. Fiorito said that at the year-end banquet Junior Achievement of Cincinnati gave out a number of awards and proudly announced his group “blew the doors off” other projects.
Fast forward to 2012. Fiorito now works for Time Warner Cable and is in charge of field technicians. Today, Fiorito follows many air shows around the eastern United States working with Continental Air Show Productions, which is the production company behind some of the country’s most spectacular air shows. At the end of the third day of the air show fundraiser, student volunteers were treated to an impromptu job shadow experience they will likely never forget when the Thunderbirds communication team came over and gave all the students headsets so they could listen to the pilots during flight. Fiorito talked to the students throughout the show, explaining what they were hearing, where the planes were coming from and more.
Fiorito credits his time working with the JA Company Program for his success today. As a JA alumnus, Fiorito has nothing but praise for Junior Achievement programs and firmly believes in their power to provide needed education in financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship.
“If not for Junior Achievement, I don’t know where I would have received the foundation to launch my career and the guidance and direction to keep going,” Fiorito said.