A volunteer tax preparer and United Way employee

“You hear ‘taxes’ and people are afraid, but it’s not that scary. Anyone who wants to is welcome to volunteer.”

When Caitlin Skaff started working as United Way’s grant and resource management specialist in 2015, she was intrigued by all the volunteer opportunities her employer had to offer—especially the Free Tax Preparation program.

While Caitlin had always received help with her own taxes, she felt it was time she learned how to do them herself, and figured she could help others in the process. “Getting exposed to all of United Way’s volunteer work was exciting,” Caitlin said. “Learning taxes was a bonus.”

After two days of volunteer training and a short assessment, Caitlin was certified to do taxes. Now she volunteers once a week at Northside Common Ministries. “I leave the office, volunteer for a few hours, and then go back to work,” Caitlin said.

As an employee of United Way, Caitlin helps the resource navigators who schedule the tax appointments made through PA 2-1-1 Southwest, United Way’s regional resource center that connects people with services. By becoming a volunteer, she gets to see both sides of the process.

Through her volunteer work, Caitlin has seen the direct impact she is having on individuals who use the service. She recently met a woman who planned to use her tax return to rent a new house.

“Taxes are such an essential service,” Caitlin said. “It’s an easy way to give back and make a difference in someone’s life.”

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