Monthly Archives: August 2014

New Volunteers, Round 1


Eight people joined the ranks of our Master Financial Education Volunteers on August 16th. The newbies include an affordable housing developer who speaks both Arabic and Vietnamese, two Spanish speakers and a mix of young professionals and retirees.

While their motivation for volunteering varied, these individuals had one factor in common: prior professional or volunteer experience in financial counseling and or money management instruction. For the first time, we offered an expedited volunteer training for finance-minded professionals.

jay. dinan and jose

Please welcome: Tom Hoopengardner, Donna Di Felice, Eric Miller, José Olivas, Diana Yacob, Katrin Kark, Jay Dowling and Thu Nguyen.

Thu and Katrin

Of course we don’t require prior financial experience to volunteer with Extension. Our regular, 2-day volunteer training is slated for Sept. 6 and Sept. 13.

Donna, Tom and Eric

Upping Our Financial IQs


Do money smarts really pay? We think so, and plan to prove it through an exciting new program.

We are combining classroom instruction with one-on-one coaching to better help people establish positive financial habits through a program we’re calling Money Smarts Pay.

In 3 months, Money Smarts Pay participants will tackle:

  • Goal setting & budgeting in class 1
  • Credit & debt management in class 2
  • Strategies for saving & choosing financial services in class 3.

Robert and Femia

During the weeks between classes, participants meet with the same financial coach for in-person cheerleading and over the phone check-ins. We hope this extra encouragement will help people make the lasting changes they learned about in class.

We inaugurated Money Smarts Pay last week at Arlington Mill Residences, the first of six places where the program will be introduced. Arlington Mill Residences is a rental complex owned by our Money Smarts Pay partner, the nonprofit affordable housing developer Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH). APAH serves individuals and families earning between $20,000 and $60,000 per year.

Jay and Joan

Money Smarts Pay at Arlington Mill is being taught in English, and an English session will be offered at Buchanan Gardens starting in November 2014. Money Smarts Pay will be offered in Spanish at Columbia Grove starting in September 2014.

The materials we are using for Money Smarts Pay is a mix of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new Your Money, Your Goals toolkit and the FDIC’s Money Smart for Adults curriculum.

Our 2-year partnership with APAH is possible through a generous grant from the Arlington Community Development Fund, which awarded the program a total of $27,000.

A very big thank you to our Master Financial Education Volunteers who are making the Arlington Mill series possible: Femeia Adamson, Roger Brown, Shauna Dyson, Nichole Hyter, Desiree Kaul and Joan Smith. Another thank you goes to APAH’s Arlington Mill staffer Carla Marin for the heavy lifting on-site, including classroom setup.

If you would like to coach a participant or teach a class in an upcoming series, please send an email to


Master Food Volunteers Presented Alternative to Sugary Drinks and Salt at Arlington County Fair

By Sue Gonzalez

Master Food Volunteers (MFVs) joined Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists and 4-H Program Leaders to present a group of Virginia Cooperative Extension educational exhibits at the annual Arlington County Fair, August 8-10, at Thomas Jefferson Community Center.

The MFV display featured two hands-on activities that appealed to fairgoers of all ages. To promote reducing sodium intake, fairgoers were invited to make their own spice mixes to take home. Dill, oregano and basil were among the available herbs and spices.

The other activity was a Rethink Your Drink Ring Toss game created by MFV Mike Perel. The game board included empty containers of sodas, a sports drink, milk and water, filled with 1 sugar cube for every teaspoon (4 grams of sugar) in that beverage. The goal of the game was to get the rings around the two beverages that have zero added sugar – milk and water. While the youngest children enjoyed the challenge of tossing the rings, older children and adults discussed the message of the game with MFVs.

“While we encourage people to read nutrition facts labels and choose foods and beverages with less added sugar, there’s nothing quite like seeing one of your favorite beverage bottles filled with a pile of sugar cubes to drive the message home,” said Jennifer Abel, Arlington County’s senior extension agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Virginia Cooperative Extension.

  Grams of Added Sugar Equivalent Teaspoons or Sugar Cubes
Pepsi 69 17.25
Coke 65 16.25
Sprite 64 16
Ginger Ale 59 14.75
Gatorade 34 8.5
Milk No added sugar 0
Water 0 0

Thanks to MFVs Nancy Broff, Sue Gonzalez, Joe Missal, Yoko Moskowitz, Mike Perel, Bruce Pittleman, Claudia Scott, and Sharon Simkin for working the exhibit and helping to make this year’s fair a success.

Arl. Co. Fair 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: Marie Baumann

Each month Extension’s financial education program is profiling an outstanding volunteer. To nominate someone, please email Megan Kuhn at

Name: Marie Baumann
Lives: Arlington
Works: Retired nonprofit administrator

Marie Baumann has served as a Master Financial Education Volunteer since 1992, making her our longest-serving volunteer. She recently provided one-on-one financial counseling for two individuals.

Q. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
A. I’m an artist. Finance and art is an odd combination. A lot of people think the two skill sets are totally different, which they are. But I do both

Q: What kind of art?
A: Watercolor painting mostly.

Q: Who is your favorite painter?
A: Right now, Andrew Wyeth. I just saw an exhibit by him at the National Gallery, and I loved it. He used very little color. A lot of it was black, white and gray. He did a lot of landscapes, scenes, buildings, interiors. He used a very spare palette and spare details.

Marie Baumann is our longest-serving Master Financial Education Volunteer. She has volunteered with Extension since 1992.

Marie Baumann is our longest-serving Master Financial Education Volunteer. She has been volunteering with Extension since 1992.

Q. How did you become interested in financial literacy?
A: I became interested at first for my own financial planning and education to better manage my own finances. I was not taught financial literacy, and I don’t think people these days are adequately taught either. So, I wanted to try to help somebody who has not been taught.

Q. After 22 years of volunteering in financial education, what observations can you share?
A. People never cease to surprise me with the range of financial illiteracy and financial problems.

Financial problems seem to go hand in hand with other problems such as emotional, legal and personal relationships. Often when you address the financial side of it, you’re not treating the whole person. You can’t. I usually say, “I’ve done what I can for you. You need to seek legal help or therapy.”

The rare client I have that is motivated and makes real changes in his or her life, that’s what keeps me motivated.

Q: What client success are you most proud?
A: The most interesting client I had. I worked with her for at least four years off and on. Her husband died at an early age and left her a lot of money. We worked through how she would invest the money and provide for herself and her child.

Q: What challenges have you had with clients?
A: People don’t follow through. One person couldn’t keep appointments, and she would not always reschedule. I would show up and sometimes she wasn’t there. I had to drop her. That was disappointing because she really needed help.

Q. We have training sessions for new volunteers in September. What advice do you have for the newbies?
A. A lot of them are tentative and unsure of themselves. You undoubtedly know more than your client does, so don’t be afraid. If you don’t know, say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”