It may sound strange that when I was 12 years old, my dream job was to be an accountant. Even as a preteen, I loved crunching numbers.
My mom was a tax preparer and when she reviewed her documents at the kitchen table of our Chicago home, my best friend and I always helped her match up every penny. I learned at a young age that bank statements tell a story of how people behave—both the good and the bad. I knew then accounting was the career for me.
I graduated from the University of North Texas with an accounting degree and did very well for myself…until I was laid off.
Thankfully, financial savvy isn’t the only gift my mother shared. She also taught me the importance of being a servant leader and giving back to the community. When I moved to Phoenix, the first thing I did was look for volunteer opportunities with United Way. I knew volunteering would help me keep up my skills and network.
As a site coordinator for United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for the past seven years, I help families on the brink of financial hardship. While they often find tax prep stressful, I want them to know that I can relate. It’s my goal to make the process painless.
I tell them I, too, was a VITA recipient and how I used MyFreeTaxes.com and assure them they’re taking the first, very important step to getting their family back on financial track—just as I did.
There’s always a story behind the numbers. VITA has not only given me a pathway to connect with families and pass on this free skill, it allows me to honor my mom’s legacy.