Open wide the door -- that was the message the Tax-Aide program has received from the Messiah Lutheran Church. The book of Revelation alerts us to this message as we read, "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20).
A heartfelt thank you to the Messiah Lutheran Church in Hays from the volunteers as well as from the 647 people who were helped at this tax site. This congregation for the past three years, led by the Rev. Kenton Rohrberg, provided its church hall free of charge for the volunteer AARP Tax-Aide program. For this we are most grateful, as it was a difficult task to locate such an accessible and appropriate location. We always felt welcome and were gratified those who came for the Tax-Aide program were able to safely and effectively enter the church hall without steps and obstacles to mobility.
The AARP Tax-Aide program is a national program with tax sites in every state and is run by volunteers. They provide free income tax preparation for persons with low and moderate incomes with emphasis on those 55 years of age or older. This program is sponsored by the AARP foundation; membership in AARP is not a requirement.
We were saddened when one of our volunteers, Sueellen Pfeifer passed away after a difficult illness. She had planned to help once again at our site. Our condolences are offered to her family and friends.
Vinton Arnett, who graciously and effectively stepped in to fill the site coordinator position, submitted these final statistics generated from the Hays site. He said, "They are rather impressive, given the limited number of volunteers available this year."
The total number of clients assisted was 647 from 11 counties -- Ellis, Barton, Lincoln, Ness, Osborne, Phillips, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Smith and Trego. One tax preparer from the Hays site assisted at the WaKeeney site on several occasions. This year, the Hays Tax-aide program prepared 403 federal tax returns; 603 state returns and 289 homestead returns for a total of 1,295 returns. The generated funds returning to the area are: federal $239,477, state $91,722 and homestead $108,197, for a total of $439,396.
So very many deserve our gratitude. The volunteers who generously donated their time, their talent and their caring; the Messiah Lutheran Church pastor and members who opened the door of their church and their hearts; the wonderful people who were so grateful for this service; and for all the caring that we experienced through each other and our clients.
It is so very true. Open wide the doors -- we know not whom we will meet.
Ruth Moriarity is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.