A gift to the La Porte County United Way is a gift that keeps on giving. On February 4th 1st Source Bank made a visit to the United Way Michigan City office to deliver a $5000 check for their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The same day, United Way donated $8000 to the La Porte County Emergency Management Agency.
Kris Pate, the Executive Director of the La Porte County United Way, explained the positive cycle they are creating.
“Being able to partner with our banks and other financial institutions and even agencies that are working to help people become financially stable, is what is driving all of this. So the partnerships here are incredible. They are making a difference.”
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA, provides tax preparation assistance to low income families, the elderly, and citizens that struggle with English. It also provides people with resources to complete it on their own or advice about the process.
The Michigan City Public Library has been offering VITA for almost 25 years. Last year they had five volunteers file over 150 tax returns.
“We have a dedication to the community in more ways than books and entertainment,” said the library’s Public Relations official, Robin Kohn. “It’s part of our mission. There is a need in the community and this is a great service for that.”
VITA touches on a lot more areas than we first realize. The money saved by taxpayers (a total of $399848 last year) goes back into the community. Purdue North Central provides volunteers that get certified by the IRS as part of their degree curriculum, and those volunteers work alongside already established accountants, who offer them jobs when they graduate. The people who use VITA get connected with other resources, like health care programs and help setting up bank accounts.
It is all an interwoven web that grows stronger with every hand we hold out for our neighbor.
“This is a program that helps people with a really important aspect of their financial life,” said 1st Source Regional President Matt Vessely. “Without this program there may be large dollar refunds that they never even set their hands on because they didn’t go through the process. This helps them go through the process. It helps not just the individuals and the families, but the local community at large. It brings those dollars back into the community. If [1st Source] can support a program like that, and help United Way reach out to more people, lending a hand becomes an easy decision.”
Even on a day meant to recognize their hard work, United Way put the spotlight on another organization that has saved our County time and again. The EMA accepted donations from them that will buy cots, bedding, hygiene kits, and many other emergency supplies that they can place at New Prairie school and certain churches that have volunteered to shelter citizens in an emergency.
Director Larry Butcher said, “Be not prepared and you will realize the importance of emergency preparedness. Even with the amount of people that go through this county, if someone gets stuck in a snowstorm, the county will be here to help them out. That’s our job. And this [donation] will help tremendously.”
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