Scooper Hero: KGW & Caryn Lilley

kgw2On April 12th, we will be scooping up free cones at our Ben & Jerry’s PartnerShops as part of National Free Cone Day.  But, thanks to the support of some special businesses and individuals, we’ll also be raising funds to support our job training and workforce development programs!  The 6th Annual Scoop-A-Thon brings together “Scooper Heroes” in our community who are dedicated to ensuring that youth learn the skills they need to find employment and lead independent lives.  Whether they mentor the youth we serve, provide internships and employment, support our programs financially or work to engage others in our efforts, they are truly heroes for at-risk and homeless youth in our community.


Caryn Lilley

KGW is one of our Scooper Heroes, and Caryn Lilley is not only one of their valued employees but she’s also been a long-time member of our Employer Advisory Board.  We asked Caryn to reflect on her first job experience and why she and KGW are committed to being part of the solution to ending youth homelessness.

Tell us about your first job…

My first job was through a work experience program at the local bank.   I worked with the loan officers and helped with administrative tasks such as sending out collection letters, processing final loan payoffs for vehicles and sending out the cleared vehicle titles.   I also called the credit report agencies to verify credit ratings on new applications.   It was before any of those processes were automated and you actually spoke to a person who gave you a series of codes that translated to a credit rating on an individual.

What were some of the most important things you learned from that job?

Banks conducted themselves in a very formal way when I was in high school.   I learned a lot about conducting myself professionally, dressing professionally and politely greeting customers as they entered the bank.  I found out quickly the more engaged I was, did what I was asked and asked for more work when I was finished, the more the regular employees at the bank were willing to show about other aspects of their business.   It was very memorable and I am very grateful for the time the loan officers took to explain the entire process to me.

Why is it important to you – and to KGW – to support job training programs like New Avenues’?

When I got my first job in the bank, it required typing.  I had broken my wrist over the summer and I had a cast up to my shoulder.   I remember sitting in the work experience office with the counselor on the phone with the bank trying to get a placement for me.  He said some wonderful things about me that I didn’t think about myself.   He warned them I was a little “broken”, but assured them I was going to work hard for them.  I was taken back by his confidence in me and that helped me believe in myself, because he believed in me.  That was a very important start to my career and I wanted to pay it forward.

I think New Avenues helps youth with that exact thing.  The program helps them find their strengths, define goals, gain confidence, explore options, provides mentors and find a path to the career they would like to achieve.  But they need the opportunities that only businesses can provide.   More businesses need to be involved so those job experiences exist and doors can be opened for future opportunities for the youth.   KGW employees love to share what they do – and why they do it – with the youth at New Avenues!