This year was the third year that the Bergen Volunteer Center participated in Volunteers In Tax Assistance (VITA) program which is a free income tax preparation service designed to assist individuals and families. Tax clients, residing in Bergen County, that met the criteria for specific anti-poverty tax breaks, included the disabled, retired, elderly, and people who support dependents who are in college. This year, with the help of thirty (30) trained volunteers, more returns were filed than ever before. To accommodate the families, the volunteers working on weekends and some nights logged 1076 hours to complete all of the returns.
A total of 177 federal tax returns were completed, averaging $1,480 refund per household. 184 state returns were filed for residents of the states of NY, NJ, AZ, CT, MA, and VA, averaging a $1,294 refund. In total, VITA clients received $314,000 in tax returns and were saved $45,000 in tax preparation services. Incredibly amazing!
Both the clients and the volunteers felt incredibly rewarded and truly the success of the program underscores what research shows that volunteering is a two way street. “Volunteering can expand your horizons and utilize existing skill sets, while also giving you the opportunity to develop new ones. One of the most rewarding is the contact with the individuals you connect with while serving. As a volunteer, you can directly see the benefits that your work produces, whether you’re a mentor, helper or everyday participant. Seeing your actions make a positive difference for others is a strong motivator to continue serving”.
The youngest of the volunteers, Jordan and Jacob, are juniors at Mahwah High School and this was their first volunteer experience. They have both expressed how rewarding being a VITA volunteer is and they are excited to participate again next year. Research states that volunteering can improve/enhance current skills and one student indicated that his communication skills had improved during this process.
Bergen Volunteer Center’s, Debbie Emery who along with other BVC staff members managed this year’s VITA program expressed the sentiments of all when she said, “it was a privilege to work with such dedicated and compassionate volunteers; I am so impressed with their care and concern for the clients’ well-being.” The transformative power of giving- join the movement!