Thomas More College accountancy students once again assisted in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in Cincinnati, Ohio. VITA is part of an IRS initiative to offer free tax assistance for low-income individuals, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and those with limited English-speaking skills. This marks the 34th consecutive year in which TMC students traveled to Over-the-Rhine to assist individuals with the preparation of federal and state income tax returns.
TMC hopes to evoke personal reflection for students during their time in Crestview Hills, Kentucky and participating in the VITA program helps accountancy students reflect on the Thomas More College mission statement. Accountancy Associate Professor Tom Gilday, leader of the VITA program at Thomas More College, identified that the program helps students understand their “responsibility unto others” and their “social responsibility,” as addressed in the TMC mission statement. Junior accounting student Emily Stautberg explained, “I have always loved getting involved in the community, and VITA is a great way to do that. Thomas More is always encouraging community involvement and this is just one of many great ways that students can get involved in the community.”
The VITA program also fulfills another goal of Thomas More College—the new experiential learning initiative. This initiative urges students to go out and obtain experience in their respective field of study while still at the College, thus making them better prepared for life after college. In today’s competitive business world, this real-world experience can be vital in setting TMC graduates apart from others.
Participating students volunteer time each Sunday throughout the month of February. While there is some faculty supervision, many TMC accountancy students are already prepared to assist with income taxes as a result of co-operative education programs and internships. Several volunteers are in their third year of involvement with VITA. Representatives from Rudler and Associates, a local CPA firm, are on site each week to assist the student volunteers.
Inspired by the teachings of the Catholic Church and Saint Thomas More, TMC encourages students to volunteer and sacrifice to help their fellow man. Participation in programs like VITA provides students with an opportunity to reflect on the college’s mission statement, while also gaining valuable field experience. Thomas More College has an extensive history of assisting in the VITA program, and with the mutual beneficence for each side, it’s easy to see why VITA and TMC have had a long and fruitful partnership.