Tag: volunteer

Disaster Response Care Team Training

Disaster Response Care Teams are a small group of specialized volunteers who offer emotional and spiritual support during the response and recovery phases of a disaster or emergency evacuation. Care Teams are overseen by Associated Ministries, and offered in partnership with Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and Pierce County Citizen Corps. Training for Care Teams is provided by Washington Community Chaplain Corps.

Care Team members are volunteers who offer emotional and practical support to survivors of disasters during the response and recovery phases. Care Team members help by:

  • Provide a Calming Presence
  • Help Connect Survivors to Resources
  • Identify Unmet Needs
  • Support Emergency Shelter Operations

Refreshments will be served!

Please pre-register for this free event by contacting Wendy Morris at wendym@associatedministries.org or 253-426-1501. More information about the Disaster Response Care Team program can be found online at www.associatedministries.org.

This is a four-part training.  Training dates for 2018 are:

  • Saturday, March 10th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Saturday, June 9th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Saturday September 8th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Saturday, November 17th from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Volunteering is Rewarding For Everyone

Eleesha, a taxpayer living in Tacoma, was being swallowed by the stress and frustration of dealing with her taxes. Calling one of the bigger tax preparation service providers, Vaughan explained her situation and income level. She was told because her income was lower than the requirement to file that she did not have to file and they will not be preparing her taxes. Disheartened with the proclamation, Vaughan was having discussions regarding what she was told with her family. Then she heard about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.

She was urged by her mother to call and make an appointment to get a second opinion on her tax standing. Upon arriving for her appointment, she was still hesitant to have her taxes processed believing that may be a waste of her time. After the interview process and after waiting for a volunteer, Eleesha had her taxes processed and reviewed. To her amazement, not only did she benefit from having her taxes filed, she received a refund that much more than she thought; her total refund was $4,985! She was very grateful for the services the VITA volunteer provided. She mentioned that she now had money that she could use towards her household needs and repair to the family vehicle.

This is just one of the many stories volunteers hear when they are helping people complete their tax forms. However, more people are needed to volunteer to ensure those stories and successes continue. 

Why should you volunteer?  Some of the benefits of being a VITA volunteer include:

  • Gaining new skills
  • Looks great on a resume
  • Meet new people
  • Make a difference
  • Serve the community

Did you know that the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has a huge impact on the community?  Over 2,800 people served, saving about $800,000 in tax prep fees and bringing back more than $3 million to the community. 

Helping people do their taxes that cannot afford to pay someone and more importantly cannot afford to make a mistake and not maximize their refund. The VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

View this YouTube video for more details.

You will receive training to provide free tax help for low-to-moderate income families who need assistance preparing their tax returns. How does this program work? As a committed tax volunteer you’ll be assigned to work with a sponsoring organization, first to receive training and then to begin volunteering at a location in your community. Training is offered both online and in the classroom. Tax sites are generally open nights and weekends and the hours are flexible. You will surely find a volunteer site close to you.

To learn more, visit our website at www.VolunteerTaxHelp.org.

Why I Was A VITA Site Coordinator

By Than Tran – VITA Site Coordinator 2017

As a finance major at the University of Washington Tacoma, I realized that in order to be successful in my career, I had to continuously enhance my knowledge and skills. In addition, hands-on experiences are very important for me to get my first job after I graduate from college. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) was a great program, which not only helped me to build my resume, but also gave me a chance to do a meaningful thing to the community which I belong to.

I first started at VITA with a thought of being a tax preparer. However, when Amy, the program director of Pierce County, needed help to manage some tax sites, I thought “why don’t I challenge myself in this role?”. I believed that I could do more, and be more helpful if I took more responsibilities. So I chose to be a site coordinator.

I learned a lot from the experience with VITA. I was able to prepare personal tax returns for most of the people. Whenever I was not sure about anything in a tax return, I could simply just ask my supervisors, they were more than willing to help me out. A site coordinator was a bit busier than a regular tax preparer. I learned how to manage supplies and equipment, to communicate and manage other volunteers, improve my problem-solving skill, and to talk with a client with confidence.  

The working environment at VITA was very friendly and fun.  There was recognition for volunteers who were hard-working or had been with the program for many years. There were some special events where we work with some other organizations such as KeyBank or Sound Outreach, to help hundreds of clients a day. The thing that I enjoyed at VITA was not only what I learned, but also what I felt when I was helping other people. Their thanks and their smiles motivated me to work harder, and to be proud of myself because I was creating values for the community.

VITA gave me a chance to apply the knowledge about personal finance which I had learned at school, and learn some other things that school did not teach me such as using a particular software to prepare tax returns, dealing with problems that arose at the tax site, and creating relationships with great people who could be my references. Every small step helps me to reach my goal in my career in finance. I think that VITA is one of the relevant steps; my thanks for the VITA program. 

To learn more about volunteering for this program, click here.

Care Teams Training: offering compassion and support in times of disaster

Our next Care Team training is happening soon! Please join us for this quarter’s topic, “Boundaries and Self-Care for Caregivers.”

Twelve years ago on August 29th, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeast Louisiana, becoming the most destructive hurricane in U.S. history. Hundreds of thousands of people in the hurricane’s path were displaced. To help communities of faith in Pierce County assist evacuees who were relocated here, Associated Ministries created the Care Teams program.

Today, AM continues to help communities of faith prepare to serve in times of disaster. We offer quarterly Care Team trainings to train volunteers to provide emotional, spiritual, and practical support for disaster survivors. Someday, it may be our own community in need. When that happens, will you be ready to help?

This is a free event. Coffee and refreshments served!

RSVP to Wendy Morris, wendym@associatedministries.org, or 253-426-1501.

Paint Tacoma volunteers in action!

Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful is a fun way to make our community more beautiful and serve neighbors in need! Each summer Associated Ministries mobilizes volunteers to paint houses for low-income homeowners, many of whom are elderly or disabled. Since 1985 more than 2,200 houses have been painted!

This summer, volunteers from 10 workplaces, 8 faith communities, 7 “friends and family” groups, 3 student groups, one labor union, and a host of motivated individuals have joined in to paint 27 houses. Some crews work on a house from start to finish (power-washing, scraping, priming and painting), while others serve for just one day. Whether serving for one day or many, all volunteers are appreciated!

As one homeowner told us, “It feels sooooo great to be pretty in the neighborhood. This is an amazing
program with amazing people!”

For more information about all the programs of Associated Ministries, please visit our website at www.associatedministries.org.

Let’s Beautify Tacoma – Trainings

For the 33rd year, Associated Ministries will be bringing together volunteers to help paint the homes of low-income homeowners.  Through our program, Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful, we have painted nearly 2,200 homes!

Crew leads receive a 2-hour training to review safety, tips for prepping and painting a home, and selection of a project.  Crews are typically 5-15 people, and individuals are welcome to sign up and attend a training as well.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome; younger volunteers must have adult supervision.  Painting typically happens in July and August of each year, but can extend if the weather is cooperative.  All trainings will be held in the garage of Associated Ministries.  To learn more about how to support the program, you can visit www.associatedministries.org/ptpb.

Let’s Beautify Tacoma – Trainings

For the 33rd year, Associated Ministries will be bringing together volunteers to help paint the homes of low-income homeowners.  Through our program, Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful, we have painted nearly 2,200 homes!

Crew leads receive a 2-hour training to review safety, tips for prepping and painting a home, and selection of a project.  Crews are typically 5-15 people, and individuals are welcome to sign up and attend a training as well.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome; younger volunteers must have adult supervision.  Painting typically happens in July and August of each year, but can extend if the weather is cooperative.  All trainings will be held in the garage of Associated Ministries.  To learn more about how to support the program, you can visit www.associatedministries.org/ptpb.

Let’s Beautify Tacoma – Trainings

For the 33rd year, Associated Ministries will be bringing together volunteers to help paint the homes of low-income homeowners.  Through our program, Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful, we have painted nearly 2,200 homes!

Crew leads receive a 2-hour training to review safety, tips for prepping and painting a home, and selection of a project.  Crews are typically 5-15 people, and individuals are welcome to sign up and attend a training as well.

Volunteers of all ages are welcome; younger volunteers must have adult supervision.  Painting typically happens in July and August of each year, but can extend if the weather is cooperative.  All trainings will be held in the garage of Associated Ministries.  To learn more about how to support the program, you can visit www.associatedministries.org/ptpb.

Ready to Serve in Times of Disaster

All of our communities will one day be affected by a disaster – whether natural, such as storms or earthquakes or a volcano erupting as Mt. St. Helens did 37 years ago today, or caused by accidental or deliberate human conduct. When that time comes, will you be ready to help?

Learn more about how you can help in times of disaster at a Care Teams training! Disaster Response Care Teams are groups of trained volunteers who provide support, compassion, and resources to those affected by disasters.  Training and materials are free!

The next Care Team training will take place on:

Saturday, June 10, 2017, 9 – 11 AM
Bethlehem Baptist Church
4818 Portland Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98404

The topic is Psychological First Aid – understanding the impact of disasters, and how to be a calming presence and emotional support to survivors. Coffee and refreshments will be served.

For more information visit our website at www.associatedministries.org.

Volunteer with Paint Tacoma

“I cried tears of joy. It looks beautiful. My house is beautiful.”

“On Social Security, I can’t afford to pay someone to paint my house. The volunteers’ help means the world to me.”

 “The crew was awesome. I’d be happy to recommend Paint Tacoma to anyone.”

These are a few of the words of gratitude shared by homeowners served by Paint Tacoma volunteers last year! You, too, can bring joy to low-income homeowners – most of whom are elderly or disabled – by serving as a Paint Tacoma volunteer.

Gather together friends, family, group members or coworkers to form a paint crew, or sign up as an individual and we’ll place you with a paint project. Whether you can serve for one day only, or can work on a project from start to finish, we can use your help!

Not into painting? There are other ways to get involved, from repairs, to supply delivery, to photography. For more information, contact Wendy Morris at wendym@associatedministries.org or 253-426-1501.

Sign up to serve as a Paint Tacoma volunteer today! www.PaintBeautiful.org.

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