The United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee is seeking volunteers to help lower to middle income tax payers to file their federal income taxes for free through the United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).

For the past nine years, VITA volunteers have made a real difference in the lives of people in our community. Volunteers have helped families get back the money they have earned and become more financially stable. The United Way is currently recruiting volunteers to serve as tax preparers, greeters, site coordinators, and interpreters.

No experience is necessary. Flexible hours are available January through April. Taxes will be prepared at several locations in Lee, Hendry, Glades, Okeechobee and Charlotte Counties.

Volunteers will receive specialized IRS certified training including learning how to prepare basic tax returns, using online tax preparation software, and learning about the tax deductions and earned income tax credits that benefit eligible taxpayers. In addition, experienced agents and non-credentialed tax return preparers can earn continuing education credits when volunteering as a VITA tax preparer.

An orientation and training class will be offered November 12th at Florida Gulf Coast University. Interested volunteers can register online at https://www.unitedwaylee.org/become-vita-volunteer/ or contact Patrice Cunningham at patrice@unitedwaylee.org or 239.433.7557.

Vicki Riley, a United Way VITA volunteer said of her experience, “Our community has many volunteer opportunities, yet I chose to do volunteer work with the United Way VITA program because of my background in tax and counseling. The happiness of the families was immeasurable when we prepared their tax returns at no cost to them. This gave me a sense of joy and realization that my work with the VITA group was impacting lives for the better, especially when they received large refunds.”

Last year over $4.6 million dollars was returned to our communities’ tax payers through the United Way VITA program. For some families, their tax returns were large enough to help them stay in their homes instead of losing them to foreclosure or being evicted. In addition, United Way VITA clients saved the cost of tax preparation by a commercial service.

Founded in 1957, the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee is celebrating its 60th campaign this year. All money raised in the United Way campaign stays in the local community to help support the local human service network. United Way Partner Agencies and initiatives such as the, Alvin A Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Partners for Breast Cancer Care, Harry Chapin Food Bank, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and United Way 211 serve a diverse range of needs in our community such as nurturing children and youth, strengthening families, meeting critical needs such as helping the elderly and disabled live independently, and empowering communities by bringing health and human services to neighborhoods.

In addition to raising funds for human service organizations in our community, the United Way promotes partnerships and collaborations among agencies and initiatives, helping them to work together focusing on issues and solutions that continue to improve lives.

For more information please call United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee at (239) 433-2000 or visit www.UnitedWayLee.org

This article was submitted by a Guest Author of the Above Board Chamber.