One tax return that struck me was a military veteran who had no income besides the GI Bill and other scholarships for school. His return was similar to last year where he had to pay some tax on the excess of income over qualified education expenses, but he did not know that he could also include required textbooks in that calculation. He was going into grad school and was looking for ways to save money on taxes. The smile on his face when I told him about the textbooks made me realize how much good we were doing. I see myself volunteering with VITA every year I can.
During my second shift, I met a woman who was stressed about filing her taxes. She confided in me some personal struggles she was going through, which made me more determined to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. We chatted while filling out her return, and she got noticeably calmer, even though I had to ask Katie for help several times. When I finished her return, she was very happy. She expressed her gratitude, saying she would come back next year, and I was extremely glad to hear that. It finally clicked at that point what this experience is all about. I saw it as just an assignment to pass the program, but after that experience, I saw it as an opportunity to help my community by using what I have learned from school and work. I had briefly forgotten what volunteering meant to me and was reminded that supporting my community has always been one of my core values.
Overall, this was a fantastic holistic experience to complement the MST program that broadened my perspectives on our community. My hope and goal is that one day my career allows me to be able to return to volunteering for VITA again.