With a big push from United Way and other important community partners to get the word out about the www.keepyourtaxrefund.com website, I found myself telling folks in our community about this awesome resource and received some questions I couldn’t answer. I’m the kind of guy who wants to fully get behind something I’m asking others to do, so naturally my solution was to use the website myself to complete my 2013 tax return. In the past I’ve used other online software and with this website being FREE to those with income under $58,000 in 2013 and reduced cost compared to other ways to file for those who make over $58,000, how could I resist?
So, on a quiet night at home with my puppy curled up on my lap, I got out the laptop, found my W-2 and other pertinent documents and got to work (all while watching the most embarrassing of reality show secret guilty pleasures which I will not publicly admit here). I accessed the link through the United Way homepage and was easily guided through the process by the H&R Block software the program uses. Everything was clear—there were no hidden fees or any suspicious links or advertisements—just standard tax software data input and calculations. In fact, it was probably some of the most user friendly software I’ve encountered. Now here it is late January and I am already done with my taxes AND saved a ton of money completing them. That feels good. The money I saved will now go back into our local economy on my next visit to the grocery store. Okay, you caught me—maybe I’ll go out to a nice dinner at my favorite local restaurant instead. I deserve it, right?
Back in January when we announced we would try to accomplish 90 volunteers projects in one year to celebrate United Way California Capital Region’s 90th Anniversary, I received some funny looks and eye rolls. I’m fairly certain many people didn’t think it could be done. Well guess what? I am ecstatically proud to tell you that September 11, 2013 marked Project Number 89, which means that the United Way Day of Caring’s 26 projects on Friday, September 13th will bring life to Project Numbers 90-115! That’s right, not only did we as a community collectively work towards meeting our goal of 90 projects, but so far we’ve gone over the goal by 25 (and we still have two and a half months left of 2013!). If you haven’t been involved yet, now’s your chance!
Let’s do the math (not including the 26 Day of Caring projects):
+over 1,500 volunteers
+over 5,000 volunteer hours
+Over $60,000 value of volunteer labor
The individuals in our communities who together make up so many companies, unions and groups who have made such a difference in one year completely impress me! You have made a difference not only for so many of our nonprofit partners as a whole but also for the thousands of people they serve each year. Volunteer projects have ranged from helping directly with the United Way’s STAR Readers, $en$e-ability and Fit Kids projects to helping certified United Way partner organizations with painting and other facility improvements, distributing food and supplies at a food bank, helping with arts and crafts in a children’s program, providing support for program leaders, preparing supply baskets for people in need and so much more. Volunteers also helped with large scale United Way events such as the STAR Readers book drive, Run or Dye 5k Color Run, the 5th Annual LIVE UNITED Toilet Paper Drive, and of course the 2013 Day of Caring! Check out the full list of projects (including pictures!) to see all the groups who have supported the effort since January.
So, congratulations to you, the California Capital Region, including all volunteers, advocates and donors who support the local nonprofit community. Finally, thank you to our wonderful nonprofit partners for being such a major part of accomplishing this goal and working collectively to increase volunteerism throughout our region. I couldn’t be happier and more proud to be a part of this collaborative effort. Thank you all! We did it!
Cole Forstedt is the volunteer services manager in Community Impact at United Way California Capital Region. He doesn’t just talk the talk, but also walks the walk by proudly volunteering for several local organizations regularly. You can also find him supporting community theatre and periodically on stage at Runaway Stage Productions!