written by Nicole Sanders
The best miracles in the world are often the small ones, the ones that we could, but should not, take for granted. Hope4Healing strives to create those everyday miracles for those among us that need it most by working hard with our resource partners to do good for many people at once.
Take the case of Pastor Christine. Pastor Christine has served her community in many ways over many years, including by working with Hope4Healing. One of Pastor Christine’s projects is called “No Strings Attached”. Through this program, Pastor Christine provides the opportunity to learn to play an instrument to low-income children who would not otherwise have exposure to music. “No Strings Attached” has provided music lessons to elementary students, giving young children a love of music that they could take with them for a lifetime.
Unfortunately, like so many of our treasured activities, due to Covid restrictions, “No Strings Attached” had to close down for a year and Pastor Christine was not able to teach music; but from that disappointment good would come. After Covid restrictions had lifted, there was a child that music had really missed having music lessons. The child’s grandmother reached out to Pastor Christine. and asked her if she could give her grandson private lessons. She asked what Pastor Christine would charge for the lessons, and rather than take the money, Pastor Christine asked the woman to donate to a charity like Hope4Healing. When Pastor Christine looked at the check, she first thought that the woman had given $30, but she soon saw that it was actually $300.
That $300 check proved to be a miracle for a lady that Hope4Healing and Pastor Christine had been working with. This particular lady had been trying to live off disability alone for many years. Typically disability checks alone give only just what it takes to “eke out” a living, and this particular lady was no exception as she lived alone and never had extra funds left over at the end of the month. One of her needs was struggling to find the extra change to go to the laundromat once a month. Hope4Healing was able to find the resources to help this elderly lady find a gently used washer and dryer, saving her the monthly expenses of paying for laundromats, and an extra blessing occurred when someone else donated the lady a tv to help entertain the grandchildren that she often helped watch.
As these needs were met, she then faced serious car repairs, and the cost of the repairs was impossible on her income, and she didn’t know where to turn. So, when Pastor Christine was given the $300, she immediately thought of this lady and her needs, and the $300 went a long way toward easing the difficulties that this lady was facing in her life.
Miracles can often happen in small ways, and Hope4Healing is in the business of making those miracles happen. Would you consider making a donation of any amount to Hope4Healing, and helping our organization be the “miracle” lifeline in someone’s life? Contact Hope4Healing to see how you can donate your time, talents, or treasures today, and be a part of making a difference in the lives of children, families, and individuals in need.
Hope4Healing’s 2021 VITA Program
Written by Nicole Sanders
During the last several months, attention at Hope4Healing has turned to its involvement in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program as they began their third year of tax preparation. A joint venture of Hope4Healing, Hawkeye Community College, the Internal Revenue Service, and Iowa State University Extension, this VITA site provides free help understanding and filing taxes to low-come individuals families and workers. It is an essential service for people who would otherwise not be able to fully access the tax benefits that they are due, and many that have utilized this service are immigrants. For them, Hope4Healing has focused on overcoming language and cultural barriers that make it difficult for these families and workers to navigate the increasingly complex tax system. It is a valuable service for many members of the community.
The challenges have been many. Hope4Healing recruited volunteers who were willing to volunteer their time, then the VITA volunteers had the sometimes-arduous task of understanding the updated tax code. It was necessary for them to pass a test to ensure that they were able to adequately prepare the taxes in light of all of the changes to the tax code within the last year. Hope4Healing’s staff dedicated many volunteer hours to make the program a reality.
The people that the VITA program is reaching are vulnerable. Many are immigrants who have limited English skills and come from countries that do not have the complex tax structures that we have here in America. This means that navigating the system is extremely difficult for them. Hope4Healing’s VITA program ensures that individuals with linguistic and cultural barriers are not taken advantage of, providing safe space for low-income individuals and families where they can be assured that they will receive tax benefits that they are due. This means that low-income workers will not pay more than they owe, and for many provides a desperately needed income through tax returns. In many instances, the VITA tax program also helped keep families from fraudulently being taken advantage of as has been the case of families not understanding that they could receive a refund from both the State and Federal Return. By providing tax assistance in the native languages, families feel more comfortable and better understand what materials are needed to prep their returns and also how the filing program works. As the nation faces Covid, tax assistance has become even more important to low-income families as many of them can qualify for the EITC tax credit, and families and communities are helped in the long run
Coordinating the VITA Program has been a lot of hard work, but VITA is a win-win as both the students and the low-income workers have benefitted from the program. And, through VITA, the whole community has won as well for when individuals and families are able to claim all their tax credits, it is a real boost to the local economy.