A passion for helping people meet basic needs
“We make a tangible difference in people’s lives and there’s nothing more rewarding.”
Ryan Odeldobel, an audit project leader and young professional at BNY Mellon, has an interest in giving back and personal finance. When he learned that United Way was in need of volunteers for its Free Tax Prep Program – it was an easy decision. The opportunity combined his two passions.
“In my first year as a volunteer, I started as a tax preparer. I met all types of people, from seniors to disabled veterans to single parents, and I had the opportunity to help them file their taxes and work through issues,” Ryan shared. “It felt great to know that I was making a difference for people in my community.”
Ryan is inspired by the stories he hears from the individuals who utilize the United Way Free Tax Prep program. “One client is 90+ years old. She’s blind and she’s still working part-time. Another client, an immigrant, is working three jobs to support his family,” Ryan reminisced.
Ryan has had the opportunity to expand his skills and take on leadership roles through the Free Tax Prep program. In his second year, the site coordinator asked Ryan to become certified as an advanced quality reviewer. And now, in his third year, he’ll add new volunteer training to his list of responsibilities. “There’s so much opportunity for growth. And you are bettering yourself while helping others,” shared Ryan.
The majority of the volunteers at the North Hills Community Outreach Center have been together year after year. “We’re like a family now,” shared Ryan. “Anyone who can make the time commitment and has baseline knowledge or interest, should get involved.”
Last year, United Way’s Free Tax Prep program prepared nearly 10,500 tax returns for working people. Many individuals used these refunds for basic needs, such as reliable transportation, utility bills, food and more.
To sign up as a United Way Free Tax Prep volunteer, visit www.swpafreetaxes.org. To see if you’re eligible for the program, dial 2-1-1.