It’s hard to believe, but another year of VITA – Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – is complete! After over 1,000 volunteer hours put in by Fisher students at both the Godman Guild and OSU Law Extension Center, 275 income tax returns were filed for residents around Columbus, Ohio. These returns generated around $425,000 in refunds for these individuals and families, which is an average of about $1,500 per return. VITA was a fantastic learning experience from both a tax technical skills standpoint, as well as a client relationship-building standpoint.
For many student volunteers, VITA is particularly challenging in unexpected ways. Sure, each student completes training and learns how to navigate the tax software and recognize common tax credits and deductions for our clients. However, it can often be difficult to explain tax concepts to our clients. Establishing trust with a client can be difficult in any situation, but it is particularly challenging for some of our clients to put their trust in a 22 or 23-year-old student. I was happy to see all of our student volunteers express patience and kindness with all taxpayers, making sure their questions were answered and asking site managers for help whenever needed.
For those of you who are prospective students or will be starting the MAcc program in August, I highly recommend participating in VITA. You don’t have to be going into tax after graduation; we had plenty of future auditors and corporate accountants help us out this year. VITA is simply a great way to get to know your classmates better and spend some time serving the greater Columbus community.
The famous OSU football coach Woody Hayes once said, “You can never pay back, but you can always pay forward.” I hope that all of us are able to continue paying it forward by serving whatever communities we’ll be a part of after graduation. I’m lucky to be joining an accounting firm that places community service among its top priorities, and I’m thankful to be part of a college that does the same!
Feel like you’re swimming in notes, practice problems, and formula sheets? That’s certainly how I feel when the end of the term rolls around and I start to look over everything we’ve learned over the past seven weeks in the MAcc program.
In all honesty, we’re given plenty of time to study for our finals. Enough time, in fact, that twenty of us MAccers took a break on Thursday to volunteer at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. We wrapped up a holiday season canned food drive by packing a total of 647 boxes of food for the CSFP program. The food bank’s Commodity-Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) provides a monthly box of nutritious food to low-income seniors.
After community service, I wrapped up the week with all of my friends at the MAcc Autumn reception. We enjoyed dinner with Fisher faculty and staff, which was followed by a keynote speech by MAcc alumnus Jeff Howard and the recognition of two autumn graduates of our program. It was an especially nice way to end the semester and see classmates and faculty before leaving town over break.
My apologies for the short post, but it’s back to studying for me. After finals, I’ll be traveling to London, Paris, and Nuremberg, Germany, so no worries – there are many exciting posts to come!!
Last Friday, organized by student organization Fisher Serves, I along with other colleagues at Fisher, went to one of the several community service spots—Life Care Alliance dining center. After a short introduction to the dining center, we were assigned different jobs to do. I worked at Harmon kitchen, helping pack and unpack delivery bags and boxes.
The work itself may not be very exciting but the experience was very precious.
1. Making friends
Getting to know people who are also interested in community service is encouraging. I made friend with Jong, a Korean MBA who drove me to the place; Galima, a pretty and smart Indian girl who worked efficiently with me in the kitchen; and Tim, another MBA student who is very kind and always wearing a friendly smile. Actually, I made many more friends with other students whose name I’ve already forgotten. But the point is that we had a very good time together contributing to the community and trying to make a difference.
2. Getting Involved
As an international student, I found that one of the best ways to get involved and prepare for internship or full-time job is to be a volunteer. No one will get mad at your awkward English. Instead, they appreciate your help.
3. Helping people who are in need
I teared up when the manager of Life Care Alliance told us that one of the things that senior citizens long for people to sit with and talking with them. Yes, sometimes a smile warms a heart.
4. Realizing how lucky we are
Helping others who’re in need is also for our soul. It reminds you that there are so many people in difficulty and we are, in comparison, so lucky.
This week was a good week for community service here at the Fisher College of Business. Not only did we have the FETCH! Program, which Michael Barbosa already discussed on this blog, but we also had an aptly named “community service day” on Friday. Although it was mainly for first year MBA students, this event was open to all Fisher grad students and gave us an opportunity to volunteer for various causes around the Columbus area.
Since we did not have classes on Thursday this week, a few of the MAcc students decided to use the extra long weekend to help out with this great cause. As a group, we were assigned to volunteer at the LifeCare Alliance. I believe other places for volunteers included an animal shelter, the Ronald McDonald house, etc. The LifeCare Alliance’s website explains that the
LifeCare Alliance provides services to assist older adults or chronically ill residents in Franklin and Madison Counties. These services include, home meal delivery, homemaker and home health aides, and health services from RNs at our Wellness Centers. The primary goal of each of our services is help seniors remain in the comfort of their own homes with dignity, which is where 100% of them want to be. For each older adult or chronically ill person LifeCare Alliance keeps in their own homes, it saves Ohio taxpayers over $40,000 per year.
Along with these great services, they basically have a miniature grocery store within their facility where people can come and shop for the essential things anyone would need at an affordable price suited for the clientele of the LifeCare Alliance. This is where the MAcc group spent our day volunteering. We helped do a lot throughout the day, but mainly we assisted in cleaning up one of their storage rooms as well as helping to sort some donated food products. Not only was this a great chance to give back to the Columbus community, but it was also a great opportunity to spend some quality time with some quality people. Here’s a picture of the happy group at the end of the not-so-labor-intensive day (unfortunately there were no “Team MAcc” shirts, but now we all have a great disguise if we ever need to blend in among the MBAs):
The next MAcc-related community service event will be the VITA program, which I’m sure will be featured on here by at least one of us MAcc students, so stay tuned.
As discussed in last week’s post, it is really important to give back to the community. For part 2 of this 3 part series, I wanted to list a few of the service projects groups and individuals have completed or are in the process of completing. As an OSU student, there are plenty of opportunities for people to take part in community service projects close to campus.
1. Pets without Parents is a no-kill animal shelter that is always looking for people to help clean up after the animals and walk them. Now, if you’re like me (meaning you do not have the ability to simply walk into a shelter without feeling the urge to adopt a pet immediately) then you can always just donate supplies to shelter. They are always looking for cleaning supplies, Cat Litter, extra leashes, etc. They also accept cash, check, or credit card donations. It is located on Oakland Park Ave, so not too far from the campus area.
2. Rock the Block is a community service initiative that many different student organizations take part in during May Week of spring quarter. Once organizations sign up for the event, they are scheduled to go to a site somewhere around Columbus and complete a project there. It is an all day event and students are bussed to and from their scheduled site as well as other goodies such as snacks donated by local businesses and t-shirts. Mechanical Engineering student and member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, Tim Sposit, says, “It’s a great bonding experience with your friends while doing something good for the community.” So check with your student organization in the spring to see how you can get involved!
3. NOURISH International- OSU Chapter is a student organization that plans events to raise money throughout the school year in order to send members abroad to work on service project. During the summer of 2009, members went to Bolivia to help build an orphanage. In summer 2010, members went to Peru to help with building a water pipeline/reservoir for families in a small, Peruvian village. As a former member of the organization, you have the ability to help others on a global level. This is an amazing way to make an impact on an entire village by doing some type of sustainable project that can be kept up once you leave.
4. Center for Child and Family Advocacy (CCFA) is a center dedicated to helping children who have been victims of domestic or sexual abuse. The center is a “one-stop” place where parents or guardians can take the children to have everything from filing a police report to speaking with a social worker about the case goes through this center. As a former volunteer here, I can tell you this is such an amazing place to volunteer. Everyone you meet really wants to help these children and they do an amazing job too. I worked in the child playroom (watching the children or siblings while parents spoke with social workers or doctors), but there are other parts of the center that can use volunteers if you don’t feel comfortable working with the children. One of the perks of volunteering here is that you can take the COTA bus from campus and it will drop you off right in front of CCFA. Also, they are more than willing to work with your schedule, an even bigger bonus.
If any of these projects interests you, you can always visit each organization’s website then go from there. Volunteering and community service is a big part of the culture at OSU. Buckeye students really value giving back to campus as well as the rest of Columbus area, which is something that makes Ohio State stand out.
Next Week: Community Service-based Student Organizations