Recently, several CannonDesigners from our Buffalo office volunteered at the Herbert Hoover Elementary School in Kenmore, NY through the Junior Achievement Program of WNY. This is our third year at Hoover, and the volunteer team absolutely outdid themselves in creating an exciting experience for this year’s second graders.

Junior Achievement (JA) aims to prepare young people for the real world by teaching job and money management skills. The program is driven by volunteers and works with children from kindergarten through graduation. JA reaches almost 15,000 students in the Western New York area through specifically crafted programs for each classroom and event. Our Buffalo office is a longtime partner of JA, and over the past eight years has visited various schools throughout the Western New York region. This year, the volunteer team presented a lesson on community, covering topics such as voting, money and taxes.

The team saw the experience as an opportunity to “make a positive impact on the next generation,” said Stacey Stevens, a volunteer. “Having volunteered with the second graders and high school students a few months ago, I could really see the difference I was making in their lives.”

By immersing themselves within Hoover Elementary’s classrooms, our volunteers were able to directly reach the students. This level of community involvement is important to the entire Buffalo office, where CannonDesigners are able to “lead by example and make a difference in the lives of these children,” said Kristen Segarra, another volunteer.

Junior Achievement classroom

Kristen led her class alongside Dianne George – check out this great photo of the two of them after their lesson!

Though the volunteer team may have their tax skills down pat, this lesson on community was important to students and presenters alike. This experience can be as informative as it is rewarding. Working in the K-12 market, volunteering provides CannonDesign employees the unique opportunity to truly be in the spaces they design. Jeremy Dwyer, a seven-year CannonDesign JA team veteran, added that this activity is “an excellent teaching tool for our junior staff.”

However, volunteering with JA isn’t just for the architects and the business-minded. The JA program encourages employees of diverse professional backgrounds, and this year our team included what in past years had been a rarity – two engineers, Becca McGowan and Dan Buccini, who eagerly joined the volunteer team. JA is typically less STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)focused, but our engineers took this as a challenge. Becca said that although the content isn’t directly STEM-related, t inspiring a kid who may one day want to be an engineer, too, is time well-spent.

Volunteering with the JA program has been a regular part of the Buffalo office’s activities for almost ten years. Taking the time to give back to the local community is very important to our crew here in Buffalo, and we hope that in the coming year our volunteer team will continue to grow.

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