Donate a little time. Make a BIG impact.

By Amanda Grover, Tax Program Coordinator

How many volunteer opportunities have you heard of that can make a $5,000 difference in someone’s life? Volunteers involved in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Services for West Michigan can tell you it is a very rewarding experience. Last tax season, volunteers assisted more than 2,200 households in West Michigan, and the economic impact of our efforts was greater than $2.4 million.

We are always looking for new volunteers! No accounting or tax experience is required – you only need a little time, some basic computer knowledge, and the desire to learn.

This free tax preparation program assists low-to moderate-income individuals, and for some, this is the largest lump sum of money they will receive all year. For some struggling families, these tax returns make a big difference – enabling them to stay in their homes, pay overdue bills, and buy groceries.

The program has been hugely beneficial to our community, and volunteering is a great opportunity to learn something new and develop a useful life-long skill. Our VITA volunteers have enjoyed getting to know each other and experiencing the camaraderie that results from our common goal. A few of our student volunteers turned the experience into an internship and a way to gain future job references. Regardless of the various benefits, volunteers agree that the biggest reward comes from the gratitude of people receiving the service, and learning first hand how much the return is going help that person or family.

The free tax preparation program has had a presence in Muskegon for over a decade. Goodwill became the lead agency for the program four years ago. There are lots of volunteer times and locations to choose from! This coming tax season, there will be 11 sites in four counties: Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, and Lake. Sites operate at various times but appointments are available anywhere between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. There will also be select sites operating on Saturdays.

To learn more about volunteering with VITA Services for West Michigan, please contact me at 231-722-7871, ext. 246 or send me an email at agrover@goodwillwm.org

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