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Churchill Jr. High School hosts community financial literacy workshop

Wednesday, June 01, 20111248 views

It all started with a few foreclosure signs in a Holladay neighborhood.

When Churchill Jr. High parent Larry Schmidt saw these signs cropping up, he grew concerned for the future of his community. As a professional financial advisor, Schmidt knew the root cause of the foreclosures--that many people in our society today do not know how to manage their money wisely--so he decided to do something about it.

Schmidt approached his daughter's school and many local businesses for help in putting together a free financial literacy workshop aimed at parents and teens in Holladay. The workshop was held at the school on May 18, and to his surprise about 100 people--including 15 teens--showed up despite bad weather and other events happening the same night.

"This is the worst economic time we've seen in a long time, and people are scared to death," Schmidt said.

Money is our society's "third taboo," he said. Decades ago, nobody talked about sex or drugs, and now it's money talk that makes people nervous. Schmidt's workshop encouraged openness on the subject, suggesting that parents balance their checkbooks and pay their bills in front of their children, teach them to compare prices while shopping together, and make them earn their allowances. He also gave out free copies of Denis Cauvier and Alan Lysaght's book, "The ABCs of Making Money for Teens," to all who attended. The book outlines responsible use of money in simple language, from how to make money to saving and investing it.

"I wish I would've had this as a kid," Burt Brothers Tire and Service Store Manager Jake Burt said.

Many local business owners and managers like Burt supported the workshop with their presence, and with donations used as door prizes to further encourage attendance. In fact, their support was so enthusiastic that Schmidt was able to raise $1,100 worth of door prizes in three days time. Not one of the businesses he approached turned him down once they heard what he was up to, despite their own past or present financial struggles.

In fact, those financial struggles were part of the reason they were so eager to help.

"I kept thinking about my kids," Fresh Market Store Manager Dennie Kendall said. "That junior high age is critical to get them going before they get in trouble."

It's important for young people to learn how to manage their money, early so they can save for college instead of blowing their resources on things that don't matter, Brown Floral Owner Tracie Drage said.

"A lot of people are trying to grab their attention to get them to spend money," she said.

Not only will building good financial habits help them in their future education, it will decrease the stress in their lives enough that it might even save their marriages someday, Schmidt said.

The Churchill financial literacy workshop will be an annual event, to be held every October before students participate in the Reality Town simulation, so they can go into it with the financial knowledge they need.

Businesses in Holladay and surrounding areas that donated to the workshop included Burt Brothers, Center of Dental Professionals, Fresh Market (Highland Drive location), Dan's (Wasatch Blvd.), Fat Cat's Gepetto's, Home Depot (3300 South location), Firehouse, Wing Coop, Olympus Hills Bowling, Rocky Mountain Pizza, Richards Brandt Miller and Nelson, Deep Blue Pool and Spa, Drive Utah Holladay, Free Style Dive Watches, Q-4-U BBQ, Great Clips (Olympus Cove), Top It, Brown Floral, Honey Baked Ham, So Cupcake, Skull Candy, Java Joe's, Einstein's Bagels, IHOP (Highland Drive location), Quizno's (Highland Drive location), ACS Precision Body Work, Market Street Grill (Cottonwood location), Parry's Printing, Meier's Chicken, and McGee's Stamp and Trophy.

Caption: Many local Holladay business leaders contributed to a financial literacy workshop at Churchill Jr. High, including Fresh Market Store Manager Dennie Kendall (at left), Burt Brothers Tire and Service Store Manager Jake Burt, Brown Floral Owner Tracie Drage, Primerica Regional Vice President Larry Schmidt, and Holladay Quiznos Owners Jeremy and Mary Whitehouse.

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