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ROC Celebrates SUNY Oswego VITA Program as Community Champion for February

OSWEGO – SUNY Oswego’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program has been named as Recognizing Oswego County’s Community Champion for February.

From left: VITA Program Faculty Advisor Professor Andrea Pagano and volunteers Shane Kinley, Zach Harder (seated), Jay Hassey and Steve Neuhauser.
From left: VITA Program Faculty Advisor Professor Andrea Pagano and volunteers Shane Kinley, Zach Harder (seated), Jay Hassey and Steve Neuhauser.

Recognizing Oswego County focuses on the positive efforts that are being made in the community.

Each month ROC uses this recognition effort as a platform for emphasizing the wonderful work that is happening in Oswego County to promote the health and wellness of children, families and adults.

A theme is selected each month and nominations for Community Champions are solicited.

According to ROC co-chair, Brandon Morey, “ROC chose Financial Wellness as February’s theme because this is the time of year when people are paying off holiday debt and preparing for tax season.”

VITA was one of several programs nominated for Community Champion, however they were chosen due to their focus on community service and student involvement.

“The VITA program is an amazing resource to our county and highlight one of the numerous ways that SUNY Oswego impacts residents of Oswego County in a positive way,” Morey said.

According to VITA faculty coordinator Professor Andrea Pagano, 50-70 accounting majors volunteer with the program each year.

The students are accounting majors and, as part of the volunteer process, become certified through the IRS to prepare tax returns.

Services are offered on campus as well as out in the community at Hamilton Homes in Oswego and at the County Office Building in Fulton.

Individuals requesting help through VITA should expect a three-step process.

The first step is a phone interview to make sure the tax return is within the scope of the volunteers followed by a visit to one of the sites to have the return completed.

The last step is a review by one of the VITA coordinators who make sure the return has been prepared properly.

There are six student coordinators who largely manage the program.

Coordinators are also responsible for checking for rejected returns and for answering any questions from program participants.

Pagano said, “Last year we completed 350 tax returns, and we are on track for meeting that number again this year.”

Pagano explained that the program is operated and supported by volunteers from Beta Alpha Psi which is a chapter of the national honor accounting society.

SUNY Oswego also supports the program by providing mobile technology that allows tax returns to be submitted electronically while out at the community sites.

For more information about the VITA program, contact [email protected] or call 315-312-2934.

For March, Recognizing Oswego County is seeking nominations in the area of healthy childhood nutrition.

Nominees can be individuals, programs or organizations.

Nominations are due by March 11.

The nomination form is available on the ROC Facebook page or by contacting [email protected]

ROC members include representatives from a broad range of community organizations as well as individual community members.

New members are welcome.

Monthly meetings are held from 8 – 9:15 am on the second Thursday of the month at the Oswego County Federal Credit Union, 90 E. Bridge St.