VITA: True value – through the eyes of a volunteer

Billy Viviano

As a VITA volunteer tax preparer, I met many people from our community who really need this service.  I learned a lot about their finances and situations; sometimes realizing that a tax refund would be one of the biggest sources of extra yearly income for them. It is moments like these, accompanied with some of their comments, which brought me back to VITA for the second time.

I remember many of the people I helped through the program, but some of them particularly stick out in my mind.  One of those people was a man who had a son who obviously meant the world to this guy. Throughout the tax preparation process, he continued to mention his son and how well he was doing in school.  While all of this talk was interesting, it was what he said when I told him he was getting a $150 refund that really reminded me of the importance of what I was doing there that day.

The man rejoiced, saying, “Finally, I will be able to buy my son a great Christmas present next year!” I realized at that moment that not only was VITA worth every hour of time to both learn and use the knowledge of tax law, but that this program can change lives for the better, including my own.  While this case is truly touching, it is not a unique case. Many of the people I have personally helped have said similar things, or have just exhibited a glowing smile that spoke for itself.

Overall, the VITA program can help a large number of people within a community in only a few months.  This program helps people who really may need this refund get the entire refund without losing a large percentage of it to a tax preparation fee. While the community members we help in a vast sense are the sole beneficiaries, this wonderful program also helps the student and other volunteers involved.  This program has not only taught me the great skill of tax preparation, but has also granted me the powerful lesson of what it means to help people.

Submitted by:
Billy Viviano
UWMC student, VITA tax preparer