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Tag Archive: Outreach

Tales From the Road – Part 2

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mamacon 1

In mid-May I had the pleasure of attending MamaCon – The Conference for Moms, in Bellevue Washington.  This was their third year of bringing activities, resources, shopping and fun to mom’s in Seattle and surrounding areas.  In addition to sharing information about the GET Program in the Market Place (the shopping and resource experience at the conference), I also had the pleasure of introducing each guest speaker.  The speakers covered a range of topics including, motivating your kids, how to have a happy mealtime, how to avoid running on empty, and learning to say NO without guilt or shame.  What a pleasure it was to get to know each of the speakers and learn more about them, their families and the work they do to encourage and support moms.  One of my favorite moments at the conference this year, was meeting one very special mom who shared with me what it meant to her to attend MamaCon.

Being a mom is a joyful blessing but there are moments that lean toward hard and exhausting.  All moms experience this, including the very special mom that I had the opportunity to meet at the conference. I was immediately aware of her profoundly powerful attitude. She exuded confidence, genuine kindness, and a willingness to learn.  She came to my table in the Market Place to pick up a GET brochure and ask some questions about the program.  She shared that she has two little ones and really needed to understand how GET could help her and her husband get prepared for the kids’ college in the future.

jackie at 529 dayShe didn’t come with girlfriends, sisters or a family member. It was just her alone and she said it was one of the most important steps she’s taken in a long time.  “To have the opportunity to meet new people, gather information, learn something new and feel refreshed, was a blessing in disguise,” she explained. Since her children had been born she had forgotten to take care of herself and when a close friend gave her the gift of attending the conference she realized how important it is to be “engaged in life” and then pass that attitude on to her kids.

As we talked about GET, she asked a lot of great questions and finally ended with an emphatic “Wow! We’re doing this!”  Her excitement was infectious.  She shared with me that she had wanted to go to college so badly but wasn’t able to afford it so she moved through her life with a sadness that she kept to herself.  When she got married and they started a family she was determined to encourage her kids to embrace life, embrace activity and embrace learning and to provide the best avenues to support them in pursuing it.  She was so thrilled that on top of having the whole day to be pampered and enjoy the company of other women, she learned how to open the door to the college dream for her kids.

As she left my table, I realized I was smiling.  Her attitude and exuberance were uplifting and I was grateful that the chance meeting with this wonderful lady filled me with a renewed enthusiasm to embrace life and appreciate all of my chance encounters, because you never know whose heart you may touch.

Written by Jacquelyne Ferrado

 

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Tales from the Road – Part 1

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Jackie Outreach

One of the greatest benefits of my job is meeting new people and making a difference in how they understand the GET Program. My work takes me to parent meetings, children and family events, school activities and conferences from Olympia to Spokane, Seattle to Vancouver and even Tonasket to the TriCities. In every community I have the pleasure of spending time with parents and grandparents who are beginning to explore ways to save for their children’s future college expenses. A few weeks ago at a PTA meeting in Olympia one Mom said “if I don’t start now, I’m sure I never will.” I told her that getting started is typically the hardest part, but once you make some time to jot down your savings goals and gather some resources you’re nearly half way there. “That’s the problem,” she exclaimed, “I don’t know what to look for or even how to choose.” To which I replied “That’s what I’m here for!”

That’s my job with the GET Program – as the Community Relations Manager I get to meet people one-on-one and help them maneuver through information, clear up misconceptions, talk about their savings goals and provide resources to help them get started. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, because parents can expect to pay 2/3 of their children’s college costs through a combination of savings, income and loans, it is imperative that they start saving as early and regularly as possible. One of the first things I tell a parent is that they aren’t alone. With work, children, and life in general, sorting through all of the information in a Google search about the best ways to save for college is painful and time consuming. So here are a few tips to get you started:

Make time: Schedule a time to sit down alone or with your spouse and jot down your initial thoughts on what you want to accomplish with your savings plan. Believe me; this will save you countless hours and headaches in the long run by getting your goals, fears, and perceived barriers to savings out of your head and in writing. You might have to change things around later and that’s okay. Just start brainstorming and create a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-related (SMART) plan.

outreach womens showKnow your budget:      Know what you can afford today. There are so many things vying for your attention and your pocket book so know your boundaries. Live in the ‘here and now’ but develop a plan for how to align your savings over a period of time. Start with something, and add more to your budget later when you are no longer paying for things like diapers and daycare.

Have a goal: When I started saving for my children I ‘wanted’ to have four years of expenses saved by the time they graduated from high school, but my reality dictated that improbability, so I adjusted my goal. I focused on saving what I could, when I could.

Keep an open mind: There’s a lot of information out there about the best ways to save, but realistically there isn’t simply one way. The College Savings Plans Network (CSPN) advises to consider a 529 plan as one of your savings methods and include other ways of saving along the way. Just like retirement, a solid college savings portfolio is diversified.

Read: It would be easy to just let someone tell you what to do, but you have to read the fine print. Always make the time to read through the information on the savings plan you select. They were written for a reason.

Ask questions: I often hear people say ‘I’ve always wondered about______,’ which I’ve assumed meant they never asked the question in order to get the answer. Please ask…. that’s the only way to learn. Don’t end up in the same sticky situation as the parents whose daughter said to them on the day of her graduation, “Today I graduated from high school, where’s my GET money?”
Well, I’m off on another trip, this time to the Family Fun Fair in Spokane. If you’re there, stop by and meet me. I’d love to hear your story and be a resource for you.

Written by Jacquelyne Ferrado

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