The weather may be screaming Autumn but one Fairfield County nonprofit is gearing up for Spring, specifically April—tax time!
The Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport is kicking off its incredibly successful Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA, and they need volunteers! The VITA program is run nationally by the IRS and aims to help approved clients in need process and file their returns – totally free.
The Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport is home to a number of programs ranging from arts, fitness, financial literacy and mentoring and supports hundreds of individuals and families in the Greater Bridgeport community.
This year, the VITA program at Burroughs is in need of volunteers but also a volunteer program supervisor. Operations Manager and Volunteer Coordinator Paul Farina Operations Manager and Volunteer Coordinator Paul Farina says Burroughs gives the supervisor a one-day intensive boot camp.
All volunteers receive some basic training, which can be done online, and then have to take a simple test online.
Farina, who volunteers with VITA himself, says helping folks out is more than enough reward.
“Many of our clients are people who typically aren’t able to afford professional tax services,” said Farina. “So if we can help them get their taxes done properly and on time then we can put money in their pocket and help them improve their daily lives form buying clothes to groceries. This is real life stuff and it feels pretty incredible to help the clients out.”
Last year, VITA had about eight volunteers, including some from local universities. Farina says that in its last run the VITA volunteers processed and filed anywhere between four hundred and five hundred returns.
Folks at Burroughs estimate that’s a return of anywhere between $300,000 to $500,000 back into the community.
Volunteers come in one to two days during the week – usually Sunday mornings and Monday evenings, depending on clients. This year they’d like to have about eight to ten volunteers in addition to the site supervisor.
Clients using VITA apply for assistance and coordinate their appointments with the volunteers through Burroughs. Farina stresses that the entire process is kept confidential.
Fairfield-based attorney Mickey Cooper has been a VITA volunteer at Burroughs for the past four years and he says he’s enjoying it more and more with each passing year.
“It's cool from a volunteering perspective because you are able to personally connect with one person or one family at a time, build a rapport, and provide them with a concrete, significant benefit all in one sitting.” said Cooper.
“The entire process can play out in as little as a half hour, but you would be amazed how easily the return visitors remember meeting you when they come back the following year. It’s a truly meaningful experience, on a number of levels.”
To learn more about how you can get involved with the Burroughs Community Center, or another way to volunteer here in Fairfield County, visit VolunteerSquare.com.