VITA Volunteer Spotlight - Manuela

     Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a free tax preparation service for individuals and families in Santa Barbara County. Tax returns are prepared and completed by IRS-certified volunteers each year from February through April throughout southern Santa Barbara County.  
     Manuela, portfolio manager at Montecito Bank and Trust, moved to Santa Barbara from Austria three years ago. Her husband came here to do research and they both began the journey of getting to know a new place. Manuela decided to attend UCSB and after finishing her degree joined the Montecito Bank and Trust family. She began volunteering with United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in early 2015, which was a change from her life in Europe, "in Austria corporate social responsibility is about donating money, what I love about MB&T is that it is part of our corporate culture to help our community by also offering our time." 
     The opportunity to help with VITA allowed Manuela to use some of her financial skills with a broader population, "I love it when families get refunds . . . a single mom received all her tax credits and got a $7,000 refund, it is good to know I can help in a practical way." Manuela is moved by the families who enter into the doors for tax preparation and financial advising. For many of the families, VITA volunteers offer an opportunity to address financial concerns and have become essential to their welfare. Volunteers aren't simply tax preparers, they are friends and neighbors. 
Want to know more about the impact of VITA? Check out these 2016 statistics!
  • More than 3,100 families received a combined $3.2 million in tax refunds
  • 62% of individuals were previous program participants, and 35% of individuals were new participants



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