Sunday, January 16, 2011



Every year for the past couple of years, I've volunteered in the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance/Tax Counseling for the Elderly) sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service. The program is sponsored by a number of groups under the guidance and sponsorship of the Family and Individual Self-sufficiency Program.

To volunteer, one must pass a test set by the IRS. For geezers like me, I need all the help I can get so I attend a free seminar at Leeward Community College for two Saturdays. The class is conducted by Professor Roy Kamida, who is also a CPA. The first session is this Saturday, January 22. You can make inquiries about attending the session by emailing him at KAMIDA@HAWAII.EDU.

Also assisting at Leeward is Shelley Ota who is a Professor of Accounting and is the division Chairperson for LCC Business Division. She is a 2009 recipient of the UH Regents Medal of Excellence in Teaching. Professor Sharon Cox is an Assistant Professor of Accounting in UH West Oahu's Division of Professional Studies. They are both credentialed academically.

In the above photo, both professors are brainstorming on ways to attract more people in to utilize the tax assistance program. Some of their ideas made me blush. But you can see that they're not typical of the professors I had when I struggled through college. My professors all had beards, walked and talked slowly and were hard of hearing. As you can see, neither of them have beards.

They are always on hand to provide assistance when the volunteer has questions. And, I can attest that they will not giggle or snort when you ask a question that a simpleton should know. At least, they've never laughed while I was still in their presence.

One of the things most volunteers look forward to is the food cooked by volunteer chef, Vic Punua, Jr. His sweet/sour spare ribs are of the broke-the-mouth quality.

Then, there are the volunteers who keep coming back year after year. You get to renew old friendships while helping the people with their tax returns.
Of course, the main benefit you will get as a volunteer is the satisfaction in helping people to navigate through the complex process when preparing a tax return. You will also acquire a better knowledge of our tax system. At Leeward, where I volunteer, there are many accounting students who are part of the program to obtain class credits and hands-on knowledge of the tax preparation process. They obtain real life experiences in dealing with "clients" which will serve them well in their future endeavors. As a geezer volunteer, interacting with the young keeps me young and on my toes.

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