At Oasis, we believe that relationships often begin by giving someone-in-need tanglible, practical help. Through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), our professional accountants and volunteers have saved North Memphis residents thousands of dollars … millions actually … which keeps money in families pockets to be used for necessary items like food and housing.
In recent years, tax filing had become dirty business in the inner city and several local businesses were charged for filing fraudulent claims and withholding money that was due people. But for eight years now, our trusted and trained volunteers have set up shop in the neighborhood for several weeks and faithfully filed honest returns – at no cost – with a main goal being to find each person all the earned income tax credits they are eligible for, as well as, save them all the filing fees other companies charge. This saves many low-income families hundreds of dollars every year and puts precious dollars back into their households and our community. The impact is not only individual, but positively impacts the entire family and local economy.
“We have many repeat customers who have come to us every year,” says former VITA Project Coordinator, Doug Edwards. ” I would estimate at least 50% of the people we serve have been coming back for at least 4 years. One lady who stood out to me a couple of years ago had just lost her mother after also losing her father the previous year. In addition, she was dealing with her own health issues and had recently lost her job, so she was very much in a world of grief and needed someone to talk with and listen. I spent about an hour with her, not only reviewing her taxes but also talking about her situation and helping to boost her spirits. She called me after she got her refund and thanked me for the help and for being supportive and a good listener. Ours is not just a ministry of help, but a ministry of love. It is so much more than just doing their taxes. We get to know these folks on a personal level and they become our friends. They trust us, they appreciate the help, but they especially appreciate the personal attention we provide.
Over the past eight filing seasons, VITA volunteers have invested almost 2,475 hours of their own time, filed 1,460 returns, and saved people just shy of $2.5 MILLION dollars!!
We will be available to file taxes every Saturday from 9:30-1p at the Bickford Community Center from January 31 through March 28.
If you are interested in joining our volunteers (we’ll train you!), let us know! We’d love to add more members to our team!
If you would like more information regarding this specific ministry, contact Vikki. Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter and checking our website for pictures, videos and current information.