What does “GIVING BACK” and “MAKING A DIFFERENCE” mean to you?

decatur_central_2by Nicole Bieker

What does “giving back” and “making a difference” mean to you? What a deep question, right? These past few weeks, the Milliner & Associates team has answered that question by volunteering its time and professional experiences to the junior and senior JAG students at Decatur Central High School.

Your next question may be…what are JAG students? Well, I’m very glad you asked. Let me share the mission and vision of JAG with each of you:

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is a state-based national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk. In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results �” helping nearly three-quarters of a million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and secure quality
entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.

The JAG National Network makes a measurable difference in the outcomes of public education and workforce development systems at the national, state and local level. They strive to increase opportunity and reduce poverty and unemployment by fostering A Nation Without Dropouts.

JAG believes that…

…JAG students and graduates are capable of extraordinary accomplishments once they realize the future relevance of what they are learning and will exceed expectations when challenged and stimulated.

…JAG graduates can and will change the world!

…JAG is needed more than ever!

Our firm decided to partner with JAG Indiana after meeting the National JAG Associate Vice President at Staffing World this past October in Washington D.C. When we heard the passion and dedication in Janelle Duray’s voice, we knew we had to be a part of this life-changing organization.

Over the last 2 weeks, our team spent 4 days with 60+ Decatur Central junior and senior JAG students. At the end of our time together, I’m not sure which group learned more…the students or our team. We joined the seniors in a Mocktail Party and performed mock interviews with the juniors. Both student groups were quite impressive. They were so engaged in their educational journeys and appreciative of the time that we spent with them. Our tasks were to teach the students how to “work a room” and “make a lasting first impression”. The students met these challenges head-on and walked away with newfound knowledge and confidence on how they could effectively influence their chances for success outside the walls of their school in the real world.

We consider ourselves to be so fortunate that fate led us to be partnered with such a terrific school. We’re very anxious for 2015 and all the new possibilities that this alliance has in store for us and the Decatur Central High School JAG students.

So, in this season of giving, I encourage you to seek out volunteer opportunities within your communities. Whether it’s a JAG program within another Indiana high school or maybe a nonprofit organization whose mission tugs at your heart strings…reach out to that school or organization and ask “how can I make a difference”?…”how can I give back”?

I’ll leave you with a few quotes as you each ponder whether or not one person can really make a difference…I think you already know my answer to that question! Each of us has a talent and personal wisdom worth sharing with others. I encourage you to find your ideal audience, share your passion and knowledge and don’t be surprised if you end up learning just as much, if not more, than what you taught others!

Thank you to all the Decatur Central JAG Specialists and students for reminding us how rewarding it is to help others, especially today’s youth and our future leaders. – Nicole Bieker, Vice President of Operations

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” ~ Arthur Ashe

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” ~
Marian Wright Edelman

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