By Rick Dayton

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Junior Achievement is the largest — and oldest — youth development organization in the country. 70,000 kids are served in Western Pennsylvania every year.

“Experiential learning programs focused on workforce development, entrepreneurship and financial literacy,” said CEO Dennis Gilfoyle.

“It also is a great window to expose students to the different career options that are available to them,” said Senior Vice President Scott Lammie.

One of Junior Achievement’s shining moments each year is the Spirit of Enterprise award dinner. It is a black tie affair featuring junior achievement students interviewing and then introducing Pittsburgh’s business leaders.

“She talked to me about her younger years and her first business. It was really interesting,” said Effie Uffelman.

Ellie interviewed her mom.

Before taking the stage, each presenter got their hair done. Then it was back to work to rehearsing the speeches they wrote. One presenter grew up in a refugee camp in Nepal and has been in the United States only five years.

“They gave us a choice of seven countries but we chose the United States because of all the opportunity the United States provides,” said Baldwin senior Bimal Regmi.

Bimal stood on stage in front of hundreds and introduced Scott Lammie of UPMC — in perfect english.

“Mr. Lammie also thinks that giving can help yourself as well as helping others,” he said. “We all need help and support. The sky’s the limit with what we can do with our lives and contributing back to serve our communities is certainly a part of that as well.”

One after another, the young people wowed the crowd with their poise and composure — demonstrating to all that JA works.

“It got me prepared for future job interviews and how competitive the workforce can be and how I can still grow and reach my goals in such a competitive field nowadays,” said Canon-McMillan senior Ashley Oddi.

“Every day after 32 years, I have never tired of getting up knowing that when I go to work I have a chance to make a difference in somebody’s life,” said Gilfoyle.

It won’t be long until these kids are making a difference in Pittsburgh.