By James Chen, Los Angeles & Orange County Program Manager, Youth Empowerment Programs


On April 11, at Palm Elementary in Lakewood, CA, students arrived at school wearing crazy hats and stylized wild hair for Crazy Hat and Hair Day. On top of that, the 4th graders were in for another unique experience. Nine East West Bank volunteers had prepared for many days to provide interactive and thought-out presentations for the students about budgeting, saving, and basic banking products and services. With the team led by Orange County Regional Manager, James Lee, the volunteers from East West Bank were one of the best I have seen in action! One of the greatest things about observing volunteers in the classroom is that each of them incorporates their own personality and style in the presentations and all of them do this out of the goodness of their hearts and it shows through as they work whole class with the students and individually as well.


Often times, I get testimonials from the Principal or the bank volunteers, but this school, I decided to get feedback from the students, themselves! Here’s what a select few said:

“I learned how important it is to save and the difference between want and need”. Mallory Muyrong

“Thanks for the cool glasses and making sure we save our money.”  Kristen Melliza

“Thank you for teaching us about banks and how to use checks.”  Miriam Estrada

“I liked learning about checks because I had never used one before” Leilani Morante

“It was awesome what you taught us about banks and savings.  I asked my mom and she said we could open up a savings account.  Thanks!”   Tiffany Lin

“I like it because now that I am an adult I will know how to write a check.”  Tais Gomez

Lastly, a big thank you goes out to Dorothy Chan and Manuela Ramon, who are constant supporters of Banking on Our Future. Praise and thanks go out to James Lee, a fellow UC Irvine Alum (like myself!), for his help to coordinate this event with his OC team and for leading by example as he, himself, teaches in the classrooms as well. Lastly, thank you to the East West Bank volunteers, Lea, Danny, Lynsey, Kenny, and two of which I had the honor of seeing again (Hi Helena and Teresa!)