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October 2010Vol 1, Issue 6
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TOGETHER
We can make a difference
Message From VITA Program Manager
 

I'm two months into my role at MCUCD and it's been quite a whirlwind. I've spent about equal parts in my office and on the road. I've attended trainings, met with volunteers and credit union colleagues, and visited with new community partners. With each meeting I learn more and more about the unique role credit unions play as financial cooperatives in the world of community development.

 

While my travels took me to both sides of the country and all over the state, my most favorite trip was the one I took last week to visit our VITA credit union sites in western Montana. I was thrilled to listen to credit union staff and VITA volunteers share their enthusiasm and stories about the MCUCD VITA program. I even got some great pointers on how to improve our services for the upcoming year. Most of all, what I was most impressed with was the commitment the volunteers and credit union staff had to their communities. In Hamilton, Anaconda, Libby, and Dillon, credit union staff and volunteers wanted to know how they could do more to help their community access VITA. This is a testament to community service. A big THANK YOU to these credit unions for taking the time to meet with me and share your stories!

 
Rachael
In This Issue
Volunteer Recruitment and Training
Making a Difference
MCUCD Regional Training
October Consumer Topic
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Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Volunteer Recruitment and Training

Tax season may seem far away, but it is only four months away! The MCUCD Tax Team is working hard to recruit volunteers and prepare for our upcoming Tax Telecourses.

 

volunteerMCUCD is asking all of our partners to get involved in volunteer recruitment. Whatever your role may be at a free tax site, get involved in volunteer recruitment. In the past five years of bringing VITA to communities in Montana, we have found that volunteer recruitment is best done within the community being served. Word of mouth is the best means of recruitment. It's as simple as telling your friends and family about your volunteer service and the VITA program. And, if you need help in the process, contact the Tax Team!

 

When telling your community about volunteer preparation, be sure to emphasize the support and training MCUCD provides. In order to offer our volunteers quality training opportunities, the Tax Team developed the Tax Telecourses. The Tax TeleCourses are a series of tax law trainings conducted over the phone. Participants call in and listen to each training twice a week for four weeks. Each training lasts about an hour and includes a homework assignment to help participants practice what they've learned. Every training is recorded and placed on www.MontanaFreeFile.org for participants to access if they have missed a training or want to listen about a particular topic. Sign up for our upcoming training, beginning October 19, by contacting Rachael at rachael@mcun.org.

 

If you have a vested interest in seeing free tax preparation in your community, tell your fellow community members to get involved. Or, if you aren't already, get involved yourself. You can sponsor a site, volunteer to prepare taxes, or recruit volunteers. Whatever you can contribute makes a difference!

Making A Difference
 

Missoula Federal Credit Union (MFCU) offers a truly inspiring story of how their payday lending alternative loans (PAL) and dedicated staff helped one of their members. Mike (whose name has been changed for this article) first met the lending staff at MFCU in April 2008 because he had been denied a $500 Visa Card. Although his wife had a full-time job, he was on a fixed income. Mike also had issues with mobility and was discouraged because many stores did not offer motorized carts, which left him unable to shop.  Payday Loan Alternative

 

Mike was approved for many PALs and worked with the staff at MFCU to improve his credit. Despite his improvements, he told staff that he did not have a reason to live. His mobility issues caused him a great amount of stress.

 

Ultimately, because he paid back his PALs on time and stopped going to payday lenders, he was approved for a signature loan to purchase his own motorized cart. The MFEC staff member that predominately worked with Mike remarked, "He drove his cart into the lobby the other day to show me and he was like a 16 year-old kid that just bought his first car!" The staff member enjoyed the opportunity to help Mike with his financial situation and explained, "as a lender, you have helped make life better for someone else which is a great feeling!" 

MCUCD Regional Training

Helping Montanans Survive and Thrive During Tough Economic Times
Many hardworking families are experiencing increased debt, decreased wages, and lack of savings. Join us at one of MCUCD's regional training locations to learn about ways you can help your members Survive and Thrive in Tough Economic Times.  Register Today! 
 
Participants will leave the workshop with the tools and resources to help the individuals and families you work with to:MCUCD
  • Understand and repair credit reports
  • Make the most of tax credits for working families
  • Set up a workable family budget
  • Recognize and avoid predatory lending products
  • Access programs to save for education or a home
  • Find local resources
  • And much more!
Consumer Topic of the Month
 
CRC GraphicProtect Your Identity 
Identity theft is a greater threat than ever before, with a record high of 11 million Americans affected in 2009. Identity thieves look to steal your personal information and use it to purchase goods and services in your name. The damage of identity theft in expense, time, and stress can be immense and long-lasting, which is why it's so important to closely guard your personal information and remain on the lookout for identity threats. 
 
Visit the Consumer Topic of the Month on the MCUCD website for tips to protect your identity and privacy.