Michele LIVES UNITED by volunteering as a free tax preparer
The payoff? Volunteers helped local taxpayers get more than $8 million in refunds.
We asked one of our volunteer tax preparers who are helping neighbors keep more of their hard-earned income to talk about her experience. Michele answered a few questions that we thought might be top-of-mind to others who are considering using their skills in this way.
Where do you work?
I'm a full-time Ivy Tech student but also work as a server, bartender and do a little bit of bookkeeping in the Fountain Square Theatre Building.
How long have you been a free tax prep volunteer?
I'm starting my second year in 2016.
How did you find out about the volunteer opportunity?
I've been a client at Southeast Community Services (a United Way agency) for a couple years. One of the coaches asked if I would be interested in helping out with tax prep. (I'm one of those weird people who love numbers.)
How much time do you give volunteering?
Between my neighborhood, kids’ school (I have four children), and other community projects, I average about 2-3 hours a week on volunteer work.
Why did you decide to volunteer for this program?
I love Southeast Community Services and am so grateful for all the help they give others. When they asked if I wanted to help, I was glad I could finally give back a little. Preparing taxes is easy for me. Knowing that money is tight for people in my community, I'm happy to offer my skills and save them some money in the process.
Describe the training you received.
Training for the program allows you to either attend a class or do it on any computer at your own convenience. I did the training at home.
How has volunteering benefited you?
I have had many wonderful people help me through difficult phases of my life. I've had the opportunity to help others through some tough times. This is what makes life great: people helping people. No one can do everything on their own, but with a little help, everyone can do great things. Volunteering creates opportunities to connect with others and participate in something bigger.
What do you wish more people knew about this program?
I wish more people would use the Indy Free Tax Prep program. And people should know that we will look at, and do, previous years' taxes. Most get money back. It is fun when they see what their refunds will be. Regardless of how easy or complex the returns are, clients are always grateful and appreciative.