Financial Empowerment Partner Spotlight

Santa Barbara Police Activities League and VITA

Santa Barbara Police Activities (PAL) was awarded the financial empowerment partner of the year at the 93rd annual awards celebration on may 18, 2016.  during the 2016 volunteer income tax assistance program (VITA), they created an additional site in santa barbara, allowing the program to serve even more individuals and families in the community by providing free tac assistance and long-term financial Asset building to lower income families. We spoke with Michelle Meyering of SB PAL to learn more about their goals and experience with United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program.

How long have you been with PAL?
“I started with PAL in Feb of 2014 and Judith Lugo, Program Director, started with PAL in March of 2008.”

How did you hear about the VITA program and why did you believe it was important for PAL to partner?
“Judith was approached by the Housing Authority to become a site for the VITA program, as we have a tutoring center with several computers available, available parking and are just down the road from the bus depot.  After a discussion between myself, Judith and Program Officer Bryan Kerr, it was determined that the VITA program would not only benefit the community, many of which are PAL families, but would also provide an opportunity for families to become familiar with PAL programs.”

What has been most fulfilling in your work with VITA?
"It was very fulfilling to be a partner for so many families to receive the assistance they need to complete their tax returns. So many members of the Santa Barbara community are non-English speaking and often without the means to access available resources.”

Why would you encourage others to get involved with VITA?
"Filing income taxes is an important aspect of being a citizen of this nation, whether we like to pay taxes or not. VITA is a great program which provides assistance to those without the means or knowledge to file on their own, either due to language barriers or financial constraints.”  

How do you believe PAL’s goals and United Way’s goals align?
“One of PAL’s goals is to unite teens, families and the community.  I believe both PAL and United Way of Santa Barbara County provide programs, resources, and tools for families to work to better their current situations.”  

How do you believe non-profits can continue to partner to be more effective?
“Non-profits need to collaborate to provide the best programs and services to those in greatest need. The families PAL serves are not just PAL families, they are the Santa Barbara families.”