Letter: Many made VITA possible

To the editor:

I would like to recognize and extend my heartfelt thanks to all who made possible this year's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. VITA is a free tax preparation service available to those individuals and families earning less than $49,000 a year. It was developed by the IRS as a way to ensure that those eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit would receive it. They estimate that only 25 percent ever received it prior to this program.

The United Way of Northern Arizona has taken the lead on this program and offers the service countywide. Sandy Roe at WUSD has provided the facility through the local school district, as well as flyers to advertise the event and was our only local tax preparer for several years, along with several from outside Williams.

This year locals Todd Boyle, Pam Dreher, Liz Hernandez, Judy Lollich, Brad Massey and Doug Peters became tax preparers and donated the equivalent of a week's work in terms of training time, study and actual tax preparation. This is the first year that Williams residents provided the majority of the tax preparers. Another first this year came through the efforts of Gabe Ayala, Cesareo Vasquez, and Martha Verser, who acted as translators.

The city of Williams allowed us to insert our flyers into the water bill. Michael Vasquez folded the flyers at no charge. Carol Glassburn and her Angels helped stuff the envelopes. David Burr of VITA and AARP came from Flagstaff with all the computers and acted as site supervisor. Robin Mosness from Flagstaff did our quality review checks. Alex Andazola from Wells Fargo acted as greeter and opened new accounts so people could get their returns faster.

St. John's Episcopal-Lutheran Church dedicated VISTA hours toward outreach efforts and innumerable individuals and service groups helped get the word out. Local businesses contributed by posting our flyers for the benefit of their employees as well as their customers.

This sort of community effort is the rule in Williams not the exception. The "Will" in Williams is what makes this a great community. As long as we continue to develop local resources and partner with county, state and federal agencies when we can't do it alone we will thrive. So while we've come a long way there is still room for improvement. Our goal is to become a self-supporting site. To do that we need more tax preparers and higher levels of certification for our preparers. We need a site that has computers with Internet access to streamline the process.

All these resources already exist in Williams, it's merely a matter of discovering them. Please contact Sandy Roe or me if you can help in any way.

Karen Peters

VISTA member

Arizona Community Foundation

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