Saturday, January 8, 2011
Greater Capital Region VITA Kickoff Ceremony today
Congressman Paul Tonko, Tom Morley from Greater Capital Region United Way, Mary O'Keeffe (accepting the new "Wally" VITA award on behalf of the Union College Kenney Community Center VITA site), Albany County Executive Michael Breslin, and Joanne Passineau (our award-winning Senior Stakeholder Relationship Tax Consultant for the IRS Albany Territory SPEC Office) at today's VITA kickoff ceremony held at Catholic Charities in Albany.
It was a great honor for the Union College VITA program to be honored as the 2011 recipient of the "Wally", a new annual award presented by the United Way CA$H Coalition, named after Wallace "Wally" Donnelly, a very dedicated long-time Albany VITA volunteer who died one year ago. The photo below shows Wally assisting a taxpayer in 2009.
Elected officials, VITA volunteers from non-profit organizations around the Capital District, IRS officials, and Wally's family were all on hand to honor his memory as we launch another filing season.
Congressman Tonko (with me, below) was enthusiastic in his support for the VITA program as an important means of making our tax system more progressive, as well as developing empathy and a shared understanding of the economic challenges that many members of our community experience. Wealthy Americans can afford expensive tax advisors to take advantage of all applicable provisions in the tax law, but VITA volunteers help to make sure that working families and senior citizens receive all the tax benefits Congress has directed specifically towards lifting many families from below the poverty line to above the poverty line, while also encouraging many desirable social goals including work, savings, education, and human capital formation.
My husband, Ross Miller, and our older daughter, Alison, were also there. Unfortunately, our younger daughter Catherine--who is an extraordinary entertainer of taxpayers' children while their parents get their tax returns prepared--was ill and unable to attend. Thanks to my entire family for being so awesomely supportive and understanding about all the nights I spend away from home during tax season. My husband took the photos above. Thanks to Congressman Tonko for grabbing my husband's camera and getting the nice photo of Ross and Alison with me at the ceremony.
The many outstanding Union College students and staff who have contributed to the success of the Union College VITA site were unable to be there today, but I would like to acknowledge them all below:
Student Preparer Hall of Fame
Filing season 2005: Devon Bruce, Erica Chambers, Adrienne Dodge, Michelle Lombard, Adam Pennacchio, Adrienne Ringer, Gregory Shaffran, Ellen Spicer
Filing season 2006: Simi Koshy, Luke Labella, Jared Levy, James Martin, Mudan Liu, Justin Merolla, Mark Susko
Filing season 2007: Michael Alberti, Jason Bye, Dianna Crawford, Lauren Eilberg, Meaghan Horton, Hadley Planting, Lindsey Quereau, Brad Wagoner, Mark Zagata
Filing season 2008: Ashley Braniecki, Fengguan Chen, Allison Dantus, Sarah Ehle, Thomas Haynes, Steve Walker, Christopher Walkley, Alexander Zani
Filing season 2009: Vincent Chau, Yu (Christina) Chen, Jacob Deveney, Moosa Haider, Chelsea Hargis, Karin Santiago, Sarah Scott, Jeremy Taglieri, Ashley Braniecki (alumna at Kenney Center), Meaghan Horton (alumna at YWCA of Schenectady partner site.)
Filing season 2010: Amy Block, Karen Chan, Kelly Fleming, Allison Frederick, Matt Goodrich, Kerry Hanson, Erin Hubbell, Dan Kutner, Christina Liquori, Lauren McCormick, Veronica Mynders, Will Pinkston, Alex Scheier, Mike Spicer, Gabe Webster, Sarah Yergeau, Ashley Braniecki (alumna)
Filing season 2011: Ed Burnam, Ryan Castello, Jared Dickson, Katie Ferrara, Michael Jacobson, David Leavitt, Andrea Marois, Ted McKenna, Sarah Reid, Brett Sussman, Dan Vivian, Zach Weil
We are also very grateful for the many Union College faculty and staff members who have enthusiastically supported the Union College VITA program since Dean Therese McCarty first launched it in 2005, as well as to Bank of America for its financial support.