Pam and Ray Gerbi lived and worked in New Hampshire for more than 35 years before they retired to Maine. The couple brings many decades of experience and a lifetime commitment to service to their new community.
Volunteering: How It Began
Pam and Ray volunteer with several local organizations. We are so thankful that they are now volunteers for CA$H Maine. Pam says, “For a couple years, I heard an enthusiastic and convincing presentation by a fellow United Way of Mid Coast Maine board member about how much of a difference the CA$H Coalition makes in peoples’ lives. This year, the timing was right for my husband and me to volunteer ourselves.”
Ray recalls that at the time Pam first introduced him to CA$H, “I hesitated to volunteer. Knowing the challenge of doing our own taxes, I was concerned whether I could successfully prepare them for others. In 2016, Pam reminded me that the opportunity was still out there, so I considered what it would take to become a preparer and went through the certification process.”
What Was It Like?
As a greeter/intake person, Pam expected to be the first person to interact with clients coming to the site. “That turned out to be true,” Pam says, “but what I didn’t expect were the immediate words of gratitude from the clients that this service is available for free.”
Pam suggests, “Anyone who cares about the community should check out CA$H Maine. No special expertise is needed, only a sense of genuineness and a desire to help.”
On his first night volunteering, Ray wanted to observe the process and decide whether he could do it. “I started to observe someone preparing a return, and it seemed to be a positive experience for both the preparer (another first-time volunteer) and the client. When the next person arrived, I was asked if I would like to prepare that person’s return. I said I would try.”
As Ray got started, “It was very evident that the support was there to answer any questions I might have. Most satisfying was the reaction of the clients who were very grateful for the assistance and had all the information needed. The experience immediately became quite comfortable.”
How Does Volunteering Help Our Community?
15 Midcoast CA$H volunteers served more than 300 tax filers in 2017. They helped file federal and state returns and connected participants with community resources & financial education.
Pam and Ray’s efforts helped return $562,383 in tax refunds to low-income taxpayers. Clients at the Midcoast site had an average adjusted gross income of $25,734. The free tax prep. also helped with taxpayers’ financial stability throughout the year. 52% of people planned to pay down or pay off debt with their refund and 34% planned to save it. Pam says, “I’m very happy to know that my small contribution helps make a very large difference in the lives of many of our neighbors.”
Pam and Ray encourage others to follow in their footsteps and consider volunteering. Ray reflects, “I have spent my career in not-for-profit work and am proud of my accomplishments. However, volunteering for CA$H has risen to the top of what I am proud to have done. The training is excellent. The support is there when needed. The sense of doing something to help others who are appreciative is very rewarding.”
To learn more about volunteer roles or connect with CA$H Maine anywhere in the state, click here. For more information on volunteering for Midcoast CA$H, contact Ali at Goodwill at (207) 289-7013 or email [email protected]