POSTED ON JANUARY 21, 2016  BY KATHIE STAMPS, writer, Business Lexington

For five decades, SCORE has helped people start and/or expand businesses. For many of those years, volunteer counselors across the country were retired executives as the acronym described: Service Corps Of Retired Executives. Today the volunteer mentors are all ages and in all stages of business. If you’re looking to give back to the community by way of sharing your business expertise, the Lexington chapter of SCORE is looking for volunteers. 
Funded by the Small Business Administration, SCORE has 320 chapters in the United States today, including Kentucky’s two chapters, in Lexington and Louisville. In Lexington there are currently around 20 mentors. 
“Louisville is probably four or five times larger, as far as the number of people we have,” said Vincent Smith, chapter chair, “but they’re not four or five times larger than Lexington, so we have plenty of room for growth.” 
In 2014 the Lexington chapter helped entrepreneurs start 205 new business and create 66 jobs. Of the organization’s clients already in business, 79 percent increased revenue, compared with a national average of 65 percent. 
“Our clients can come to us any time during the life of their business,” said Ramona Bayma, chapter administrator. “They know their counselor and their counselor knows them.” 
No matter how much business experience you have, there’s always something new to learn. Meeting with a mentor picks up where networking leaves off . All of SCORE’s mentoring offerings are free. 
“We should have more businesses taking advantage of the services,” Smith said. “A lot of the mentors have terrific backgrounds; if you went out to hire someone like that it would cost you a fortune.” 
Smith’s background is in the home furnishings industry. He moved to Lexington from New Jersey in 2010. 
“I didn’t know anyone here,” he said. “I was looking for a networking group.” 
When he found one, he met several people who were involved with SCORE, and although he wasn’t familiar with the organization he was intrigued enough to visit the office. He had volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters in New Jersey, so he knew about the intrinsic rewards that come with the time and energy commitments to helping other people. 
One thing that stood out to him during the volunteer orientation was SCORE’s outlook on encouragement. 
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