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Volunteerism at Its Best
by Eloise Montemayor. Community Relations/Public Sector Associate United Way of South Texas
published April 2017



First-time client Jose Russa sought free income tax preparation services for the first time this year. He was thrilled to find out from VITA volunteers Guadalupe Torres and Bruce Ramirez that he would be receiving a refund when he had expected to pay back.
With the help of outstanding volunteers and supporters, United Way of South Texas impacts approximately 286,000 residents in Hidalgo and Starr counties every year. We admire the work ethic and passion of our volunteers who collectively contribute hundreds of hours towards United Way programs like Back-to-School "In Style" Shopping Spree, Day of Caring, and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program.

The VITA program alone exemplifies what hard work and commitment from volunteers has done for our community. United Way's VITA program has grown to offer free income tax preparation services, for households earning less than $54,000, at 16 sites today compared to eight sites in 2011. By the end of the 2015-2016 tax season, VITA volunteers helped 3,102 households receive a total refund of $6.1 million. This year (2016- 2017 tax season), VITA volunteers have already helped 3,190 residents receive a total refund of $7.2 million.

The VITA program is just one example of how important volunteers are to the success of our programs. However, there are various other ways volunteers can get involved with United Way and with other agencies and entities that serve our community. This month we invite individuals and families to put their heart into their community by giving of their time and talents. In fact, we hope that hundreds of volunteers will participate in National Volunteer Week, which is April 23-29.

More than 100 agencies have posted their needs online through Volunteer South Texas (volunteersotx.org), a free user-friendly online portal. Some of the agencies have even posted specific projects just for volunteers wishing to help during National Volunteer Week (NVW).

Last year, 275 volunteers contributed 864 hours of their time during NVW. We hope that more volunteers will be willing to participate this year. To find out more about Volunteer South Texas and the needs of our local non profits, visit volunteersotx.org or call United Way at 956-686-6331.

If you would like to support our programs with a monetary donation, you may mail a check to United Way of South Texas at
P.O. Box 187
McAllen, TX 78505-0187