Getting started as a volunteer
When Siiri was a student at the University of Maine at Farmington she learned about a local opportunity to be trained and certified to help community members with their taxes. At the time she couldn’t participate due to scheduling conflicts. When she graduated, however, she wanted to put her skills to use and get additional training while still having the flexibility to be home with her children. “I looked online at the irs.gov website to find out how to become trained to help others with their taxes. At first, I began reading the entire tax manual. It was overwhelming and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to remember everything that was in it!” Things fell into place when she discovered the Western Maine CA$H through United Way and her information and desire was forwarded to the site coordinator.
Siiri’s experience as a volunteer tax preparer
At first it was a bit challenging for her to learn both the computer program and how to find accurate information efficiently. “There were plenty of tools to use to learn the basics and practice filing a return. I learned that I didn’t have to know every answer, I only needed to know where to look to find the answers. That was a huge weight off my mind.” The more she practiced, the more confident she became that she would be able to help anyone who came in fitting the VITA guidelines. “Every step of the way I had help and friendly, seasoned volunteers answered my questions. The trainer created an atmosphere where volunteers felt comfortable asking questions. He consistently reassured all the volunteers and humbly and humorously acknowledged the complexities of the system.”
“I love helping people and using my skills to make life easier for them. Taxes can be so daunting and it’s wonderful to see community members come in, empowered to get the help they need to get their taxes completed for the year and leave feeling accomplished.“
“I also love working with the other volunteers. When I have questions, they were always there. When it’s hard, they are understanding and supportive. When we are successful, we celebrated together. “
When she’s not volunteering to prepare taxes
Siiri is a wife and mother of 7. She loves music and dancing and sings jazz as often as she can. She is currently in the process of securing a patent for a garment that will help families of individuals with special needs, one of her passions.
Siiri loves to volunteer when she has the opportunity and has done various things over the years. “Currently, mothering is my top priority and a little more intensive, so I lead a children’s choir, encourage citizens to vote, make food to support local sports teams, provide meals to missionaries, and generally try to uplift those around me.”