Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco
Celina Gonzalez was one of the first teens in the country to participate in Money Matters. Nearly 10 years later she serves as a customer service representative with a major bank. She is also giving back to the place where she grew up, through volunteering with Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco.
Celina has been in the banking industry since she was 19 and currently works for Chase. Her passion for working with people allows her to serve the San Francisco community, while gaining valuable product and service knowledge. As a Club volunteer, Celina teaches Money Matters participants about checking and savings, budgeting and the benefits of starting a bank account. She also leads a girls mentoring program and will soon be assisting with the Club’s teen leadership program, Keystone Club.
“I volunteer because I love my Boys & Girls Club and it’s where I grew up,” she says. “I started going there when I was 12 and like going back because it’s where my heart is. I like coming in and teaching the youth what I’ve learned through my professional experience.”
Before she took Money Matters at age 16, Celina says she was clueless about money. She didn’t know the importance of saving money and, as a part-time teen staff at the Club, she would go spend her money the minute she got her paycheck. Money Matters taught her ways to save little by little, like eating in instead of going out. She is sharing the tricks she learned in high school with youth at her Club today.
Another impactful experience from Money Matters was opening her first bank account. Celina and other members of the teen staff would take trips together to the bank to deposit their paychecks and make any other transactions. It was going to the bank with her friends and learning what it meant to manage money that got her interested in a banking career.
Like many families in her community, Celina came from a low-income family. She participated in the program with her sister and then encouraged her other siblings and cousins to take Money Matters to ensure they were getting the skills needed for a successful financial future. Celina is happy that the Money Matters program has grown and is still supported at Clubs nationwide because it provides a good support group for youth and teaches things she still applies to her life today like saving and budgeting.
“As a guest speaker, I’ve seen many kids impacted by the program and it’s great to see when it clicks for them,” she says. “With one teen, I saw him learn the importance of saving money as the program progressed. He would buy his lunch, a bag of chips and a soda every day and was spending $20 a week on food. He learned he could save more money by buying in bulk for a whole week and bringing his own stuff. He started spending less and saw his bank account grow. Money Matters truly prepares us for our future.”