Volunteer Spotlight: An Interview with a BestPrep Service Award Winner

Paul Nelson with Allstate receives Service Award from BestPrep, with Bonnie Vagasky of BestPrep

On May 23, 2019, BestPrep students, teachers and volunteers gathered at the Annual Luncheon to celebrate an outstanding year and several award winners. Allstate agency owner, Paul Nelson, was one of 26 volunteers honored with the BestPrep Service Award. Staff BestPrep members nominate business volunteers for the Service Awards who, through their time served, have showcased enthusiasm, effective presentations with students, and a consistent commitment to their volunteerism. Read a Q&A conversation below about Paul’s involvement with BestPrep.

Q. As a Service Award winner, you volunteer regularly with BestPrep. What made you first become involved with the organization?

A. Giving back is a part of Allstate’s DNA and as an agency owner, I am passionate about supporting our local community. Allstate believes Good Starts Young® and we aim to inspire the next generation of leaders by helping them build skills crucial to learning and leading. In-school and after-school programs like BestPrep help foster critical social and emotional learning competencies that help set youth up for success. When I first learned about BestPrep, I was drawn to the opportunity to support youth as they prepare for college, their career and adult life.

Q: Tell us about your experience volunteering and presenting through the Financial Matters program.

A: Through the Financial Matters program, I leverage my existing knowledge of the financial services industry to share details about car insurance with students – but it’s much broader than that – I also help students understand how insurance can help protect what’s most important to them. It feels good to bring important insurance information to young people and answer their questions, so they are equipped with financial skills that will be helpful in the future.  

Q: Besides the Financial Matters program, can you share how else you are involved with BestPrep?

A: In addition to Financial Matters, I also work with the eMentors program. I enjoy working one on one with students and the opportunity to share details about my career path, work as an Allstate agency owner and provide advice as they prepare to enter college and eventually the workforce. The best part of being an eMentor is when the students visit my office and shadow a day in the life of an Allstate agency owner. They get to see my day to day work and how I serve as a trusted advisor by helping Allstate customers protect what means most to them.

Q: What value do you get from volunteering with BestPrep?

A: What I value most about volunteering with BestPrep is that I feel like I am making a difference. Whether I am presenting through Financial Matters, speaking to students at the Minnesota Business Venture or mentoring, I know that I am helping students develop skills that will empower them to make an impact in the future. The programs that BestPrep offers students help them build their social and emotional learning skills, and these skills are a greater predictor of lifelong success than academic grades. In fact, students who score high on social skills are four times more likely to complete college. I’m proud to support our future leaders and change makers and I get do to that with the help of BestPrep.