The Volunteers in Tax Assistance (VITA) Program has come and gone another year, but for the second year during a pandemic. In 2020, we had very little warning of how everything was about to change, and the program pivoted the best it could. This year we were ready with a plan to keep people safe and still provide one of the most integral services of our agency.
Due to pandemic restrictions, we could no longer take walk-ins because of the lines and people being in such close proximity, so we scheduled people via appointment instead. The pandemic also put restrictions on location and promotional efforts, but our team overcame and served over 500 members of our community!
There were unique challenges that understandably made it hard for people to volunteer with VITA in these times. That’s also why we were so happy when people did agree to help, for one person in particular, their life was changed through volunteering this year with VITA.
Though he doesn’t want his name shared, we still will share his story.
The Anonymous Volunteer
He started off as a volunteer who had some prior knowledge of taxes. He told us he didn’t know how much time he could commit, but most importantly he had a desire to help people. What we didn’t know was how much he would grow in both his passion of helping people and for taxes.
Sometimes you don’t fully know what a volunteer role will entail and volunteering for VITA is a big responsibility. It can take a lot of time and tax preparation is detailed and complex. However, like any volunteer role that you enjoy that is a good fit for your skills, it’s easy to find yourself committing and giving more of your time.
This volunteer was dependable and present almost every day. He would stay the whole time we were operating to ensure tax returns got done. He found ways to help more and more people. By the end of the season, he was providing tips to folks who were coming in. Not tax advice specifically, but just ideas that maybe folks hadn’t considered about filing their taxes or IRS-approved options for funds received.
In fact, he was so impassioned while volunteering for VITA that he is now thinking about accounting as a career! It affirmed our hopes that VITA could be more than just crunching numbers and filing papers, which are still very important things. It showed that this program can be a place of hope and positivity when it comes to personal finances.
2021 VITA Results
Because of our amazing volunteers and staff, we processed 531 tax returns that totaled to around $150,000 back into the pockets of people in our community. The VITA program also saves our community money on tax preparation services.
When you apply the economic multiplier effect to both the savings and returns, it adds up to over $1,000,000 for our local economy.
This year, tax codes were changing, training was online, and there was even a certain amount of confidentiality to the locations we were operating out of. Our volunteers were quick on the fly and rose to the occasion. We couldn’t be prouder of or more thankful for them.
If this success could be found in more dire and difficult circumstances, imagine what we will achieve in better times. We look forward to partnering with more of the community and serving the North State. We have many opportunities for volunteering, so if you are interested, please click the link below. And who knows how your life may change from choosing to help your neighbors.