Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland Inc. Celebrates Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program Staff and Volunteers
Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc. (GICMH) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program celebrated volunteers and shared gratitude for the financial support provided by the IRS and United Way of South-Central Michigan at their annual gathering.
On Friday, May 6, 2022, at Battle Creek’s Firekeepers Casino Hotel, volunteers were recognized for their valued role in the VITA program’s 2021 tax season.
Kenneth Bauer, GICMH President and CEO praised the volunteers and those that support the program by sharing, “Our VITA program is an important part of the work done by our workforce development team. We sincerely appreciate the exceptional volunteers, which provide this important service to our community. We couldn’t do it without them.” In an interview Bauer said that an additional and welcomed outcome of VITA is that community members also learn about the other programs offered by Goodwill including financial coaching, youth programs, family program, and help with employment.
Also sharing their support was Rebecca Griffin, Tax and Program Support Coordinator (pictured) and Nancy Smit, Tribal Council member from the Pine Creek Indian Reservation in Fulton, who co-hosted the VITA event at Firekeepers Casino and Hotel.
Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program
Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan Heartland’s (GICMH) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) staff and volunteers completed over 2,000 tax returns for 2021 tax year at no financial cost to the filers. GICMH-VITA’s work is possible through the generosity of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the United Way of South-Central Michigan and Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc (GICMH)
This year, over 52 trained volunteers working from 10 sites donated an estimated 3,000 hours! This resulted in approximately:
- $551,295 in earned income tax credits.
- $70,337 in home hearing credits.
- $629,639 property tax credits.
- $41,784 education credits.
In addition to the tax refunds, GICMH-VITA saved filers an estimated $500,000 in tax preparation and filing fees. GICMH-VITA continues its focus on providing supports to individuals who are low to moderate income, elderly, disabled and/or limited English speakers.
Here’s what GICMH-VITA volunteers said:
“VITA is an awesome program for the people in the community. It was really fulfilling to help everyone get their taxes done. This was my first-year volunteering, and I will definitely volunteer next year. I was nervous at first, but Sheryl Watson and the seasonal tax preparers really helped to ease my nerves.”
“I’m a VITA volunteer because I enjoy the smiles of gratitude that come from most clients when you finish their taxes. I’m also a nerd that likes working with numbers.”
“I originally volunteered to earn credit for Kellogg Community College. It ended up being a great learning experience, and I will definitely do it again.”
“VITA is a good program. I really believe it will grow, as more people spread the word. The program helps people that cannot afford to have their taxes done or don’t understand what to do about taxes. People love our help.”
GICMH-VITA Community Coordinator, Sheryl Watson, said, “We are grateful to the many volunteers and generous support of funders. Our nationally recognized program is built on the work of dedicated volunteers. Next year we anticipate more people needing our services and this will require additional volunteers.” Appealing to the community, Watson said, “We will train and get you prepared to become an intake specialist or certified tax preparer.” Those interested in volunteering for next year’s tax season, please give Sheryl a call at 269-788-6500 extension 2041.
Volunteer based tax preparation service completed over 2,000 returns for 2021 tax season
This important program helps persons who are low to moderate income, disabled, elderly, and/or limited English speakers file their taxes. Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan Heartland’s (GICMH) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, GICMH-VITA is possible through a collaboration between IRS, United Way of South-Central Michigan and GICMH.
This year, the GICMH-VITA staff and volunteers completed over 2,000 tax returns for 2021. Community Coordinator for GICMH-VITA program Sheryl Watson shared, “Our volunteers provide the expertise and commitment. The program’s success is due to their compassion and commitment to help those in our community.” Watson also said, “We are grateful to the many volunteers and generous support of funders. Our nationally recognized program is built on the work of dedicated volunteers. Next year we anticipate more people needing our services and this will require additional volunteers.” Appealing to the community, Watson said, “We will train and get you prepared to become an intake specialist or certified tax preparer.”
Those interested in volunteering for next year’s tax season, please give Sheryl Watson a call at 269-788-6500 extension 2041. The VITA program is based at GICMH’s Financial Opportunity Center, located at 15 Capital Avenue N.E. in Battle Creek.
Goodwill of Central Michigan’s Heartland: Family Steps to Success program works. Battle Creek Shopper News, March 10, 2022
Goodwill Association of Michigan Shares Thank You to Supporters
December 27, 2021: Goodwill Association of Michigan, which covers ten regions within the state, would like to thank supporters of our retail stores and donation centers throughout the year, as we’ve dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Goodwills help individuals overcome barriers with workforce development programs including training and career opportunities. Others support people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. Sales of donated items at Goodwill retail stores provide major funding for these programs.
Whether shopping at Goodwill locally or throughout the state, you can check out the following Websites for donation and store locations and hours:
Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland
Headquarters: Battle Creek
Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit
Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids
Headquarters: Grand Rapids
Goodwill Industries of Mid-Michigan
Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan
Headquarters: Traverse City
Goodwill Industries of Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan
Headquarters: Marinette, WI
Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Michigan
Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan
Goodwill Industries of St Clair County
Headquarters: Port Huron
Goodwill Industries of West Michigan
We wish everyone a healthy and safe holiday season.
Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc. Recognized for Tax Preparation Assistance
August 23, 2021: Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc. (GICMH) Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was recognized with the Service Model and Champion Award from Stakeholder Partnerships Education and Communication (SPEC), the outreach and education function of the Internal Revenue Service’s’ (IRS) Wage and Investment Division.
Backed by the IRS, the GICMH VITA program has helped those with low to moderate income, disabilities, the elderly and limited English speakers file their taxes. This year, the GICMH VITA staff and volunteers completed over 2,359 tax returns for 2020. Community Coordinator for GICMH’s VITA program Sheryl Watson shared, “We appreciate the expertise and commitment of our volunteers to ensure the program’s success.” The VITA program is based at GICMH’s Financial Opportunity Center, located at 15 Capital Avenue N.E. in Battle Creek.
Preston Hicks, Vice President of Workforce Development and Community Relations of GICMH shared, “We’re honored to be recognized for our tax preparation work from among 12,000+ hard working VITA programs in the U.S. We’re especially grateful for the support we receive from the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region and the IRS.” Hicks further shared, in addition to VITA our Financial Opportunity Center provides our communities with a variety of high-impact programs and services.
For more information on the VITA program and those offered at GICMH’s Financial Opportunity Center, go to www.goodwillcmh.org.
Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc., one of five Goodwill organizations selected to participate in national pilot promoting employee access to the Earned Income Tax Credit for 2020 taxes.
April 9, 2021: In coordination with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) Center for Education and Workforce and Goodwill Industries International, Goodwill Industries of Central Michigan’s Heartland, Inc. (GICMH) was one of five Goodwill organizations selected to participate in a national pilot promoting employee access to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for 2020 taxes. The project is envisioned to be operated by or in coordination with local Goodwill organizations’ human resources departments.
Twenty-eight states offer the additional EITC, which is a federal benefit for working people with low to moderate incomes. To qualify, working individuals must have earned income from employment and file a tax return, even if they don’t owe any tax or aren’t required to file. EITC reduces the amount of tax owed and may provide or increase a refund.
Designed to reward work, EITC in 2018 was credited with lifting 5.6 million people out of poverty, including three-million children, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The credit reduced the severity of poverty for another 16.5 million working adults and children.
The U.S. Chamber invites the selected Goodwill grantees to participate in its limited community-based pilot to help learn more about this approach for further evaluation. The pilot seeks to:
- Increase the percent of EITC-eligible workers who file taxes and claim EITC benefits.
- Reduce the time and cost of filing taxes and claiming EITC benefits.
- Reduce the error rate in claiming EITC benefits.
- Increase the percent who use their EITC benefits to improve their financial wellness, including reducing debt and increasing savings.
As of March 31, 2021, GICMH reached its goal of 50 employees completing their tax returns for the EITC. “Our employees claimed over $35,000 in EITC money,” said Jerry Mainstone, Vice President, Workforce Development and Community Relations.
To reach employees across the GICMH territory a “refund rodeo” was created to encourage employee participation. Financial coaches traveled to retail locations to promote and encourage employees to participate in our VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program.
GICMH’s financial coaches also provide money management, credit building, and debt reducing strategies to encourage saving your return or reducing debt to employees.