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Henry Walker, CEO Farmers & Merchants Bank  

Click Here for Henry Walker's Bio

Friday, March 27, 2009
AIG: The outrage is justified
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Strength in family
Solutions for summer
Summer is around the corner, and my kids will be out of school soon. While I am looking forward to spending quality time with them, I am also looking for ways to keep them busy. As much as we, as parents, would enjoy a three-month vacation, it’s unlikely that many of us will have a chance to get away – much less take time off from work to spend with our kids in the struggling economy. I see the summer break as an ideal time for children to learn valuable skills and the importance of a strong work ethic. When I was growing up, I spent most of my summers taking care of horses at the stables, working hard for a small fee. I don’t anticipate my teenage daughters will be able to find a job in the current market, so I have to think of other ways to keep them occupied. I have a feeling that I’m not alone in this endeavor and want to share some thoughts and ideas I am considering.

Volunteering: Find an organization for your kids to get involved with in some capacity. Many nonprofits need additional help but can’t afford it. This will provide kids with the opportunity to grow, learn and gain hands-on experience giving back to the community. One of the organizations I am considering for my teenage daughters is Lighthouse Community Center in the heart of Santa Ana. This center provides educational programs for struggling families and children who are susceptible to getting involved with gangs and drugs. I am also looking at paying each of them for the time they dedicate to volunteering, since the odds of them being able to find a job in this market are slim.

Summer School: This is a good idea for kids so they can focus on one subject and excel. Whether it’s a general requirement, fitness or drama class, it will be time well spent.

Humanitarian Trips: While this requires some planning beforehand to raise money for sponsorship, it can open doors for kids to experience the world through a whole new set of eyes. My daughters and I went on a mission trip to Peru last summer that was life-changing. We helped hand out medical supplies, assembled wheelchairs and distributed them to those suffering in a third-world country. The experiences we had were unforgettable, and they are causing me to consider returning to Peru with my daughters this July.

Whatever our kids end up doing this summer, it’s important to direct and guide them to activities that will not only keep them busy, but also build their character and help them make an investment in their future.