YBA Volunteer Extraordinaire Jim Staton – Volunteering Is A Labor Of Love

By February 23, 2024 No Comments

When Jim Staton first started in the YBA Guest Speaker Program in 2016, his goal was to speak at all 23 schools that were part of the YBA program at that time. And he nearly hit the mark. That year, Jim spoke at 17 YBA schools.

Of course, this begs the question – why? “From my experience, most disadvantaged folks have no access to entrepreneurship. They’ve historically been deemed not good entrepreneurship material, and instead viewed as workers not owners. Exposing them to the thought process of being an owner is a radical message. And I saw that YBA was providing one of the best venues to communicate that message.”

Jim immediately recognized that his extensive senior leadership with corporate and non-profit organizations was the perfect match for YBA. “YBA brings together students with people actually running businesses and sharing that knowledge. Kids get to see someone who looks like them, and comes from their background and environment. They can conclude, ‘Well, if that guy can do it and can make his dreams come true, then I can do it too.’ That’s incredibly important.”

Following his year of guest speaking, Jim expanded his volunteering role with YBA and has done resume coaching, exit interviews after completing YBA programs, and mock interviews. “I’ve participated in every YBA program offered. It’s a labor of love.”

Jim often challenges students to start dreaming big and map out a plan to get there – a plan that he challenges them to make a commitment to. “A number of years ago when I spoke at a Boys & Girls Club, I talked to the group about their dreams and developing a five-year plan to achieve them. I asked if anyone would step up to take a photo with me, as a means to hold them accountable to work on their plan. Twin boys stepped up and agreed to take the challenge. When I came back four years later to speak again, the teacher told him that the twins did exactly what they said they would do. They went to community college to accrue transferable credits and then went on to university. And now they’re in the career they wanted. It was so rewarding and affirming.”

At this stage in his life, Jim wants to invest his time into programs that he believes give the highest return. “You can’t put a price on the impact you’ll have on these students’ lives, especially by volunteering with YBA programs. We have to think generationally – how can I have a positive impact on our next generation so our country can continue to be a beacon of the world.”