Feature Volunteer: Joyce Stoner Meets Teens Where They’re At

FacebookLinkedInTwitterKong understood the need for a budget. Pulling it off was trickier. That’s where the Milwaukee teenager’s money mentor, Joyce Stoner, stepped in.

Stoner, a volunteer for Money Coach, and Kong, a senior at Hmong American Peace Academy (HAPA), (both pictured below) recently talked through details of a budget and ways he can stay on top of it during the week, like taking pictures of receipts with his phone. She kept the one-on-one lesson encouraging and gave Kong a big-picture perspective.

“You’re going to find out, whether you’re at home or in college, you’re going to need to be able to budget and track,” she said during an October Money Coach monthly session at HAPA.

Like she did with the other students in this Money Coach session, Stoner gave her business card to Kong and invited him to stay in touch whenever he had a financial question. Stoner has been a volunteer for Make A Difference – Wisconsin for a decade, but said this year she’s setting a “personal challenge” to expand her connections with students.

“I wanted to make sure I was getting to know them,” she said. “I want to learn who they are and what they want to do. This year, I’ve decided to be more communicative, even texting students because they respond that way.”

All told, Joyce has reached hundreds of teens since the mid-2000s. For the past three years, Joyce has been one of the Money Coaches at HAPA, on Milwaukee’s northwest side. Her track record of dedication to students includes Money Sense sessions at Ronald Reagan College Preparatory High School, Destiny High School, Second Chance, Waukesha South High School and James Madison Academic Campus.

She holds a special memory of one particularly impressive group of teens in an alternative course at a Germantown manufacturer. The GPS program at J.W. Speaker Corp. involved a handful of teens who surprised her with their “ready-to-go” attitudes on personal finance.

“I was worried about walking into an industrial setting, with boys who weren’t doing too well in high school. But they were respectful, they participated, they were receptive. This was at 7:30 in the morning!,” she said with a smile. “They all got something from it. They were earning a paycheck so they understood what we were talking about.”

Kathy Weinberg-Kinsey, volunteer manager at Make A Difference, said Joyce was a “great candidate” to work with students in these apprenticeship and school-to-work settings. Kathy said Joyce is the type of volunteer that our organization and partner schools can “count on to generously give of her time while being a great role model for our students.”

A paralegal at A.O. Smith, Joyce lives in the Town of Waukesha with her husband. Her two children are in the 20s, and living and working on their own. Joyce gave her own children personal finance advice pulled from Money Sense lessons as they were developing their financial habits during their teen years.

“I think this is so important for kids in this age range,” she said. “They really need to have a background in money to be able to go out on their own in the world.”