Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Higglytown-like hero

Have you ever seen that cartoon on Playhouse Disney called Higglytown Heroes? Well the basic gist of the show is to place a spotlight on the "unsung heroes" of everyday living. People like the nurse at your doctor's office or your mail delivery person or the grocery store bagger. The purpose is to teach us how to view everyone's job as important and to acknowledge how them doing their job well makes our world a better place.

Anyway, all that to say, that I want to share with you about an "unsung hero" I was reminded of this past weekend. I just happen to be related to him. It's my dad. His name is Mark Wesley Clark. Don't worry I am not going to launch into some father daughter mush story from childhood- instead I want to share with you guys what my dad is doing today that makes a difference for all of us.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been involved with the banking/loan business. He is very diligent in his learning of financial things. Well that love of money has finally paid off. (Ha! I made a pun!!) Listen to what this article states about him:

"Mark is a busy SBA Loan Servicing Officer, that serves over 600 customers, but still finds time to make a positive impact on youth through face-to-face interaction. He is an individual with the skills, experience and desire to teach under-served vulnerable youth, valuable information, and the Bill Wilson Center provided a venue for Mark to connect with youth who need the knowledge he has to share."

Let me summarize this for you...

My dad volunteers countless hours in a given year to educate the foster youth of northern California in the ways of finance. They call it "financial literacy education." Basically, he teaches them how to manage a checkbook (including write a check correctly), apply for a loan, create and maintain a budget, understand the real cost of credit cards etc.

All of these things effect the decisions of our daily life and yet we were most likely neglected in being taught how to manage these financial issues wisely. My dad is making sure that the foster youth that pass through his program will be able to confidently take on the financial issues they will inevitably face upon adulthood.

Not only does he help prepare these youth for a bright future, my dad establishes trust with his students. It is difficult for many foster youth to place trust in adults because so many have been failed by the other adults in their lives. That is why when my dad offers wise counsel and leadership in the areas of money, they are drawn to him. According to my dad, this is the most rewarding aspect of his volunteer work.

This work has not been limited to a particular foster youth center thankfully. Over time, this program has been recognized all over California and now my dad serves on many boards and is a representative of California in the political, financial, and educational dealings of foster youth across the state. The big-wigs have begun to see how a curriculum such as his can give great strength to a student venturing out on their own. These tools will assist them in their dreams, goals, careers and ultimately their participation in this world. These are lesson that can be crucial to a person's success. My dad recognized this and now more people across the country will too.

So dad, thanks. Thank you for being a reminder that we don't have to have a personal, political or religious agenda to make a difference. You are a testimony that everyone has tools in their belt that can help make things better and meet people's needs. Thank you for utilizing yours! You are a higglytown-like hero.

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