Volunteers Needed for Tax Season
by Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director – United Way of Charlotte County
Being present for someone is by far one of the greatest gifts we can offer. Someone who can offer this is truly skilled with an art that is desperately needed. Feeling heard and listened to is an experience beyond compare. If you are a person who has the calling to be present for another person AND you would like to offer up some of your time from January through April, I have an opportunity for you.
According to recent ALICE studies*, almost half of Florida’s Households - 46% - struggle to pay their bills monthly, and more than 2.4 million Florida children - 56% - live in financially unstable households. For Charlotte County, this equates to 4,704 families with children and 21,677 residents aged 65 and over.
The mission of United Way of Charlotte County (UWCC) is to mobilize the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty. For over ten years, the UWCC has hosted the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), a true mobilizing tool to assist ALICE households. This nationwide program offers free tax preparation services whereby IRS-trained volunteers help households earning less than $66,000 per year prepare their income tax returns and access credits they qualify for free of charge.
This is your opportunity! Would you consider becoming a VITA volunteer?
Over and over, the joy our VITA volunteers exudes each tax season. That may sound counterintuitive to hear joy and taxes together, but it’s true. A few comments from our volunteers from last year can draw a picture for you:
- volunteers were so motivated and willing to do whatever was necessary to serve our clients;
- it feels good to be helpful;
- very satisfying to help the clients and rewarding to work with such great volunteers;
- well organized and very fulfilling;
- the quality, experience and passion of the volunteers is top notch;
- and so glad I got involved 4 years ago.
Did I mention that we have volunteers who come back year after year because it is something genuinely rewarding?
“A great volunteer is someone who can engage with others, has a positive personality and is a warm, welcoming smiling face,” said Gail McKee, Ageless Engagement Director at United Way of Charlotte County. “We need dedicated individuals who are committed to serving our Charlotte County community with this needed service. Volunteers should have a true interest to help others and give hope.”
The hope offered by VITA is often a significant financial boost. This past year in Charlotte County, the average age for our clients was sixty-six and the average Adjusted Gross Income $25,500. VITA volunteers were able to serve 724 households and this year we have a goal of serving 1,000 households.
How will we be able to reach our goal, you might ask? If you would like to be a gift to others with your smile, presence and time, we need you to help us reach our goal. Consider signing up for an information session. There are several set up in the next several weeks and more will be set up.
New volunteer training, hosted by UWCC, will begin in November. Greeters are needed and appointment setters as well. If by chance you are thinking that you are not a people person there is also a role for you. There is actually a role for everyone. No previous experience or training is required to give your time to VITA, though computer literacy is helpful to use the software for those volunteering as tax preparers.
Those interested in volunteering can register now for New Volunteer Training Sessions to take place in November and December. Interested volunteers can visit unitedwayccfl.org/VITA to sign up or call Gail McKee, Ageless Engagement Director (UWCC) at (941) 627-3539.
*ALICE stands for Alice Limited Income Constrained and Employed. This measure also considers older adults who are living on limited income and struggling to pay their bills. To learn more, visit unitedforalice.org.
For more information about United Way of Charlotte County’s mission: Mobilizing the power of our community to break the cycle of poverty, please contact Angie Matthiessen, Executive Director. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.