In late 2017, United Way of Summit County issued a call for volunteers for its brand-new Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. Launched in January of this year, VITA offers free tax preparation services to Summit County residents with household incomes of $60,000 or below. Among those who answered the call were Brighid Hillmuth, of PNC Bank, and her son Chris.
With Chris away for college at Ohio State, Brighid saw VITA as a way for her and her son to spend time together while also giving back. “It was something we could do together that was different,” says Brighid. “We did the VITA training together his first day of Christmas break. Then he came up a couple weekends and volunteered some days in a row.”
Along with more than fifty other volunteers, Brighid and Chris helped working families take advantage of programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In its first tax season, VITA returned more than $1.2 million to the local community. For Brighid, the fact that families can use that money however they need to – be it paying bills, buying groceries or saving for the future – is what makes VITA so impactful. “You’re doing something that’s making a difference today and making a difference in a meaningful way,” she says.