Opportunity knocks … but sometimes it rolls

By Amanda Grover, Career Supports Manager

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One thing that can be consistently changing is a person’s financial situation. Managing your money, planning for the future, and identifying resources is incredibly daunting. Money doesn’t need to be a taboo subject; and I personally have found incredible value in financially planning ahead for emergencies and reaching longer term goals. There was nothing more fulfilling than paying off my first car loan.

Luckily, there are resources available right here in our community and it’s exciting to be a part of the Fifth-Third Financial Empowerment “eBus” event here at the Goodwill Career Center on Wednesday, July 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Everyone’s invited!

This 40-foot bus is a mobile classroom equipped with workstations and friendly Fifth Third Bank staff ready to connect people with the financial tools they need. After traveling to many communities throughout the country, the Fifth Third eBus staff have a strong understanding of what individuals need and want from banks and financial institutions.

Just inside the Career Center, we will be hosting a Goodwill Financial Fair. There will be other community partner organizations on site to share vocational and education programs, and to help identify ways to increase income through employment. There will also be programs to help people with goals and issues related to home ownership and housing. Additionally, for those looking for more immediate employment, GoodTemps Staffing will be conducting open job interviews.

I’ve had lots of people come to me with great stories that have been a result of attending previous financial events. Personal stories such as gaining access to a bank account for the first time (in some cases after being repeatedly denied), enrolling in vocational programs that have increased their income, learning that earning a degree or owning their own home is possible, overcoming difficult debt struggles, and more … prove these events can be life changing.

It’s exciting to work with so many community partners and to see support from organizations all working to help people achieve their personal goals. Come join us and tell anyone you know who could benefit from these services!

The Goodwill Career Center is located at 271 East Apple Avenue in Muskegon. We are around the corner from Goodwill Headquarters. The entrance and parking lot are located off of Sophia Street.

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Gearing up for tax season

By Carl Lewis, Tax Program Coordinator

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ach tax season brings a great opportunity to assist more people in the community. As the new Tax Program Coordinator at Goodwill, I am excited to be a part of this positive impact.

I have several years of volunteer experience with Goodwill’s free tax preparation program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). It has always been a pleasure to work with people and assist them. In my former position as a financial coach, I found that tax time is the perfect opportunity to help people get back on track with their finances. The lump sum of money a person receives from a return, allows me a chance to identify an individual’s financial goals and help to achieve them.

I have a strong appreciation for the education the free tax preparation program provides, and it has been a pleasure to train and work with others. It is satisfying to share my knowledge and know that I am helping others learn a valuable life-long skill. All of our volunteers providing tax assistance are certified by the IRS.

With constant changes occurring on a state and national level, people requesting assistance have access to capable volunteers who can provide the answers. Changes with the healthcare system and the Affordable Care Act have caused great concern. We like to utilize the tax program as a platform to help clarify the impact of insurance on tax returns as well as provide information on resources. Filers also often have questions about the numerous forms, the legal requirements of filing, exemptions they are eligible for, and more. We can help!

There has always been a passion for volunteerism and community in my life. I am excited for this new endeavor as a leader with this program. I am looking forward to a robust tax season and helping individuals and families receive the funds they are entitled to.

If you are interested in getting help with your taxes, learning about our service offerings and eligibility requirements, or want to find out where and when services are offered, please visit our all-in-one website: www.vitawestmichigan.org or call 2-1-1 to schedule an appointment.

If you earned less than $62,000 last year, and would like to file on your own, visit www.myfreetaxes.com and file for free using easy, safe, and secure software provided by H&R Block.